This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
460. In many cases the photographs published in daily or weekly newspapers, magazines, etc., are supplied by regular press photographers, but a large percentage of those used for this purpose are secured in other ways. The larger publications have a photographic staff of their own, but the smaller periodicals depend, to a great extent, upon photographs sent to them by contributors.
Special Contributors. The majority of publications keep a special file wherein they have listed the names of photographers located in different communities, upon whom they may call at any time for special work. It is an easy matter for one to have his name placed on the files of various publications. If the pictures submitted are satisfactory they will be immediately accepted, and each success attained will place you in greater confidence with the publishers, and they will assign work to you more often if they feel positive that you will be able to comply with their requirements.
Promptness. One cannot be too prompt in carrying out orders thus given, for promptness and quality of work are the two greatest essentials to success.
Unlimited Field. The field for this class of work is absolutely unlimited, for one located in any section of the country may, from time to time, obtain excellent prints of great value, especially for the weekly journals.
Story With The Prints. Although the prints themselves are of value, if one can supply some interesting data regarding the picture and the incident which it represents, the reward will be far greater than if the prints are simply submitted without the article.
465. To be able to write a little story in connection with the picture makes one's work still more valuable. It is not necessary to have any great degree of literary ability, nor are the editors as exacting as the inexperienced person is apt to believe. The essential features of an article of this kind are, first, tell the story in a simple, concise and clear manner, second, give all of the facts, and, above all, be prompt in sending the manuscript and prints to the editor. Of course, one should be grammatically correct in one's sentences and description, yet it is not necessary to use stylish phrases nor extended descriptions. An editor wants the actual facts, concisely put, so that he may publish the necessary data with the pictures. The photographer will find it quite profitable to make special efforts to secure full information regarding the event he has photographed.
Foundation Of Success. There is always a certain amount of interest attending the securing of special work, for a failure to secure the photographs that one is commissioned to obtain usually results in loss of confidence by the editor, while, on the other hand, each success increases one's chances of securing more commissions from a publication, and eventually it will be possible to find a place on the regular staff of some large publication.
Strong Competition. One of the greatest pleasures, however, in this work is in the competition (which is generally strong) to secure photographs of any incident. To be successful one must always get the work to the editor before any one else photographs the scene for, although your pictures may be technically better than your competitor's, if his pictures reach the editor first the chances are that his work will be accepted over yours.
Large Profits. The profits which one derives from this class of work are greater than with any other branch one may follow. Sometimes only enough will be derived from the sale of prints to pay for your material, while again one photograph may bring enough to pay for two or three months' expenses. The price usually paid, however, varies from $2.00 to $15.00 per print. Special occasions and photographs of prominent events - those of world-wide interest - bring from $50.00 to $500.00 each.
Subject Material. The list of subjects that come under the head of press photography are without number, for they not only comprise illustrations for the daily, Sunday, weekly and monthly publications, but also for the trade journals, such as electrical and mechanical engineering, architectural, building, plumbing and gas-fitting, automobile, printing, etc. The daily and weekly publications want pictures of accidents of any kind, and the quicker one can secure such photographs the better. Especially is this true in the case of serious accidents on the street. For instance: when a child is run over by the street-car a crowd will collect quickly and everything will be cleared away, oftentimes before one has an opportunity of getting on the ground and securing anything like a satisfactory picture. Accidents such as railroad wrecks, fires, etc., give one more time in which to get upon the scene and secure a photograph, yet, no matter what the character of the accident, it is necessary to be on the scene just as soon as possible.
470. Photographs of public men as they appear on the street, or entering some prominent building, or while attending some large gathering, are always of value.