The newspaper industry is losing millions of dollars of ad revenue to the online world which include blogs, cellphones and now the new iPad. Because of their financial losses newspapers are forced to reduce their staff dramatically. Some newspapers are even laying off all of their photographers and are using freelancers instead. Now this is bad news for the staff of the newspapers but it is great news for those millions of freelance photographers out there looking to make some extra cash. I'll show you the top 5 things that can get you photography jobs from newspapers and magazines worldwide.
#1 Severe Weather - Severe weather like tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, brush fires and even earthquakes can make for some very dramatic photos and are of special interest to news editors. Photographing severe weather can be severely dangerous and extreme caution should be taken to avoid injury or in some cases even death. Because of the danger and risk involved in taking the photos, they usually sell anywhere from $50-200 per photo. Photos of major damage may sell but the photos news editors really want are actual rescues. Police and Fire dept first responders rescuing a trapped person after severe weather passes will make you the most money.. especially if you are the only one there!
#2 Structure Fires - Flames sell. Bottom line! There is no question that a fire is a tragedy for the owner of the home or business, and they happen almost every day but what sells is flames. Most photos from fires you see in your local newspaper are of a charred building with maybe some firefighter with a hose in his hand putting out the hot spots. That is boring and sometimes they won't even run a photo of the fire, unless there are flames! By the time the local newspaper hears about the fire, dispatches a photographer and he reaches the scene most likely the fire is already out making a boring photo. So if you happen to see a large column of black smoke in the air with fire trucks racing to the scene.. get there! Because if you get photographs of flames and/or a rescue.. you could of just made $200!
#3 Car Accidents - Car accidents normally don't sell very well unless it is a major crash with a fatality. Even if the crash is a minor one with minor injuries I always take a photo just in case. As a newspaper photographer I take my cameras with me everywhere I go, so if I happen to see a car crash even if it is minor I usually snap a photo. Even if I just stick the camera out the window and fire off a few shots as I pass by I will usually do it.. The reason I do this is because you never know who the driver of the vehicle is! It could be a local professional athlete, political figure, musician, actor or even a well known local celebrity. If the newspaper later decides to run a story about how the mayor's son was involved in a car crash or a drunk baseball player crashed into a fire hydrant, then you can sell that normally boring photo as an illustration to a local news story. A freelance photographer friend of mine once shot a major car crash involving the son of a famous athlete. At the time he had no idea who was in the car but shot it anyways as he always does. The real money shot came when the victim's famous father showed up to the scene of the crash to watch his son get cut out of the mangled car with the Jaws-Of-Life. He sold that video for thousands of dollars and is still collecting royalty check to this day!
Now those are the top three but take a look at your local newspaper today and check out the types of spot news photos that are inside. And don't forget the local television stations too, they normally won't buy a photo unless it is of extreme news value and no other visual proof exists. So lets say you photographed a really bad car crash late at night and you were the only photographer there. You find out the next morning that it was the star player of the local football team and his injuries sideline him for the rest of the season! Guess what.. you just made some serious cash for just a few photos you took!
Remember that most cities usually have two major newspapers and five news television stations so you pitch the photos to all of them charging them $100 each and you just made $700 for simply taking a photograph! Now there are some newspapers that will pay as low as $50 per photo and as high as $200 for the photos so your prices can vary but not bad for less than an hour of work right!?
Some people people called Stringers make a living chasing spot news with some making over a thousand dollars in sales a week. With the newspapers cutting back staff photographers an experienced Stringer can be a news editors new best friend!