Professional photographers reach out to citizen journalists on social media

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It isn’t an easy time to be a professional photographer. Staffs are shrinking, and many publications pick images from citizen journalists off of social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter instead of paying for expertly taken shots. This means photojournalists with specialized training and equipment are getting passed over in favor of regular people with iPhones who happen to be in the right place and the right time.

One would assume this would embitter professional photographers at least a little, but Poynter reports that amateur photographers trying to figure out how to negotiate with outlets who want to use their pictures and media are finding an unlikely ally: professional photographers are reaching out to give advice through social media. 

For example, photojournalist Gary He, who contributes to Reuters News and must compete with the accidentally newsworthy photographs of citizen journalists, went out of his way to help an Instagram user who managed to snap a picture of a plane crash. “Even at a professional level, photographers don’t really understand licensing and copyright all that well,” He told Poynter in an email. “So you can imagine that a random dude on Instagram must really have a hard time.”

He advised the Instagram photographer, Paul Collado, to charge a licensing fee to news outlets, something many citizen journalists don’t know to do. Collado was bombarded by requests to use his image, and with He’s advice, he gained money in addition to the “exposure” often promised in leu of currency. His advice has been echoed by other photojournalists, proving that there is good in the world; photojournalists may not be at their most employable right now, but they’re still classy. 

(Image via Faraways/Shutterstock)