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We’re Photojournalists, But It’s Not Our Bread And Butter

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Indonesia is definitely a vast nation with thousands of islands spread across it. Having a large number of photojournalists in this country is not something surprising. A big media like Kompas, has at least one photographer in every big province. Indonesia has 33 so far. Half of the number, are provinces which considered very news worthy. And especially in Jakarta alone, the largest national scale media in Indonesia has at least ten photographers based in the capital with three photo editors. Tempo has more, because it hires freelance too even in Jakarta.

Carrier path, however is not a privilege for photojournalists in Indonesia. So far, i recall none of the media industry here in Indonesia established carrier path for its news photographers. It’s either you’re IT or NOT. The photo desk exist, but it only contains, photographers and editor. Nothing in between.

Indonesian Photojournalist Association (PFI-Pewarta Foto Indonesia) records at least 200 news photographers in their database. Most of which based in Jakarta, Indonesia. That don’t include a large number of photographer in Aceh, Bandung (a city in western part of Java), Kalimantan and Papua. In total, i will estimate around 400 people work as photojournalists in Indonesia. With the growth of the media industry here that seems to keep on growing, just gave more opportunities to work in this land of expertise.

As the number of news photographers grow, it surely confusing for them. The senior will grow older, but not every senior photographer fits for editor’s seat. So they keep on shooting daily. Unfortunately, the salary increasing often are not in line with their serving time as a photographer in that media. In fact, some don’t increase much at all. We can find photographers who had work for more than five years, but earn as little as the newbies. A lot of them are paid less than 300 USD per month. Still, they sure are proud with being known as PHOTOJOURNALIST.

In the same time, they also realize that their pride cant feed everyone in the family. So it is common to find if a bunch of news photographer in Indonesia (Jakarta in particular) are talking about their side jobs when they get together. And it’s no longer just wedding photography.

Some are doing extremely well in restaurant business, with the wives as their partners. Some others sell outdoor gears, because the lucky ones with money are spenders. Few rely on photo contests, and others exports coffees. The list goes on. It’s just amazing how men will do anything to survive. And that includes photojournalists in Indonesia. They don’t whine about how photojournalism is dying. They know that, the hardest way, but they continue to do their jobs well in the name of pride, and find something else to feed their family.


Written by nickmatulhuda

August 15, 2010 at 7:35 am

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