Photojournalist dreams? A JOU senior gives you tips on how to get started and thrive

Maria Rauh, Kentucky Kernel photographer, offers tips

Mariah Rauh, journalism senior and Kentucky Kernel photographer.

MARIA RAUH, Reporter

Entering the world of photojournalism, especially as a new student can be a little tricky at first. It is a whole new world compared to your high school student paper. Though it is not the hardest thing to get started with, it does take a little more initiative on your part to get things rolling.

The best place to start is getting involved with any student paper on your school’s campus. Early too. If possible, try working with them coming into your freshman or sophomore year, that will give you much more time to take up assignments you want and potentially work your way to a desk editor position- if that is something you are wanting to accomplish.

As said, with student news, many doors can open for opportunities of assignments and events to photograph, if you take them. In my experience at my student publication, I was able to take on as much or as little I could handle.

It may be a little nerve-wracking reaching out to them to get involved, especially as a new student, since who you will be working with are other students, usually, just a little bit older. But by stepping out of your comfort zone, you will see, they just want to help you succeed and get the experience you are looking for. They have also been right there in your shoes when they first came too.

Even though you are still a student, you are now going to be assigned to events that involve the real world and not just what is happening on campus. Though do not get me wrong, there will be many, many on- campus events to cover, but you may also be covering events that arise in the city around you.

In those assignments, for me at least, they were, and still can be the most intimidating. As a student going around to campus events taking photos, getting some names are the easy assignments.

Once  out of the bubble of school events, you will be, more or less, competing with a handful of other reports and photographers from bigger news stations. All trying to get a spot around whatever and whoever you are there to see.

And I would like to say, it is nothing personal, everyone is there to do a job, but it is hard sometimes when they can tell you are new to the field and everyone is trampling over you.

Take covering a basketball game, specifically one for a school like the University of Kentucky, many outlets will be there to cover those games. Some of the photographers there will be veterans; they know exactly where they want to sit for the angles they want, and will usually have a seat cushion in that spot- honestly, something I will probably take into my life. They also usually know many other photographers there.

Some of the others you will notice are somewhere between amateur and pro. Not to the point yet of knowing everyone in the industry and all the tips and tricks, but not so clueless about where to go or where you are not allowed to go.

Now assuming when you start out, unless you somehow have four years already under your belt, you will be somewhere around amateur or even less than.

You are not supposed to immediately know how to do it all. It is a field that should be a little stressful but fun at the same time. Learning to be assertive while still being courteous will get you further than having the “everyone for themselves” mentality.

The more involved you become, the more you can get out of it.

It is not necessary to take on every assignment thrown out there, nor is it recommended to, but like most things in life, the more you put in, the more you will get out.

Also, you do not have to be a world-class, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer to do well. The whole point of being a student getting into photojournalism, is to be a student and learn the tools to get better.

Some of the best advice many peers and advisors will give, that should really be listened to is, not to compare yourself to others. Everyone starts out somewhere and then grows and gets better.

You may not be at the same level as the photo editor at your school’s paper, but that does not mean you are not good yourself.

The gist is, photojournalism should be fun. It is really just taking reporting and art, and putting the two together.

There is no “one right way” to be a photojournalist. Because just as any other art form, everyone does it a little differently, and each way is still admired. So do not get completely hung up on the idea of needing to have the perfect image to report, use the creative side of photography to do that.

Starting Out As A Photojournalist For Students At The University of Kentucky:

  • Get involved with student media; Kentucky Kernel, KRNL, WRFL. The Kernel and KRNL are located in Blazer Dining on North Campus. While WRFL is in the Gatton Student Center.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.
  • Take up assignments that are not only campus related.
  • Only take on as much as you can handle at the moment.
  • Do not take things personally, they most likely are not, everyone is there to do a job.
  • Take the advice from people who are offering it.
  • Have fun with it, get creative.
  • Remember, everyone starts out somewhere, and you will not be starting out as an expert.
    Maria Rauh, Kentucky Kernel photojournalist shares her tips and her work.
    Kentucky Kernel photojournalist and journalism senior Maria Rauh shares her tips for students who are just starting out and shares some of her work shot for the student newspaper.