As some of you may know, I am in the midst of the longest job search in the history of long job searches. We timed a move to Boston in 2008 to coincide with the stock market crash. With such pitch-perfect timing, rather than rent a car to move north I should have bought a lot of lottery tickets. I could haven been a cowboy in Winner, South Dakota.

The budget theme for June is ‘life after newspapers.’ Both NPPA (in mag not online yet) and PDN have stories out interviewing photojournalists who either picked themselves up after a layoff or buyout or who saw the crash coming (I didn’t get that call) so got out while the getting was good.

David Leeson, a Dallas Morning News buyout recipient, spoke to PDN about transition challenges for photojournalist breaking into selling their brand of storytelling outside of the media market. The story, Multimedia Journalists Discover Life After Newspapers, is up and worth the read.

Leeson says, “One thing you learn as a still photojournalist is how to get in and out and produce something with high quality. We know how to tell a story. We don’t have to story board it, and go through all these pre-production meetings. All I need is a grasp of what the client is hoping for. In newspapers, you get an assignment with a basic outline of the story, and beyond that you’re expected to find it.”

Good lesson for us all to remember. Skills are transferable but you need to describe the skill set and explain how each works to your advantage in the new industry. An art buyer is a photo researcher is a photo editor is a PR executive is a photo rep. Get out and sell yourself. Go to page 5 of the PDN article for a primer on starting a production company.

Geri Migielicz of Story4 has useful advice from the same article.

…if you’ve done multimedia production at your newspaper job, you have pitched and managed projects for a client: the newspaper that you worked for. Pitching and managing a project for another client—whether it’s a non-profit, an NGO, or a private company—isn’t such a leap.

Given the folks interviewed for both PDN and NPPA stories, my advice to all of us in the midst of transitioning and selling? Get yourself a Pulitzer Prize.

Haven’t won yet? You can find a shirt that says “This is What an Unknown Artist Looks Like” which a friend of mine just bought. I wanted to give you a link but can’t find one. So instead, buy the funny ‘Honk if you’re about to run me over” shirt at Threadless. Combines the classic rally poster with a useful safety message.

Wear the shirt next time you are out shooting a multimedia campaign for your favorite NGO.

-Sarah Evans

Leave a Reply