Cornél van Heerden, a Photojournalist, helps us picture in his life covering every exciting happening. This one is not for the comfort-lovers!
What are your favourite and your least favourite parts of your day-to-day job?
Least Favourite Part: Our job involves a lot of “Hurry up and wait”. So you would be in a big rush to meet someone or a political party or a court case only to get there to find out you have to wait. And more often than not, you wait long periods of time and then only get a couple of seconds (especially with court cases) to get the shot.
Favourite Part: Someone once said being in the media is a “Champagne lifestyle on a beer budget”. Driven by curiosity and adrenaline, photojournalists always try to be on the forefront of things happening and document those happenings.
Photojournalists would, in most cases, run towards danger instead of away. We get to experience unfiltered the life; we get to shake hands with Mandela, we get to be being among army troops and we get to see the joys and challenges of everyday people.
When you come to work you never know what you’ll get. In one day I’ve photographed presidents at the presidential guesthouse; then I walked through (and photographed) the burnt remains of a devastating shack fire at an informal settlement; and then interviewed a beauty queen who won a pageant. All in one day. It is like a lucky packet – you never know what you’re in for and that is very exciting.
How is the pay in your job/industry?
Entry level: +- R10 000 – R15 000.
How are the hours in your job/industry?
Working hours are 8-4, but typically we are required to work a lot of overtime. The extra time you work is given back with off-time. As it is the nature of the beast, news never stop even over weekends, so we work a lot of time when other people are relaxing.
What type of personality would love doing your job? And what type of person would hate doing what you do?
Driven people who have a passion for news, people and people’s stories. This job is best suited for enquiring minds who don’t mind working weird hours.
If you’re looking for fixed hours or a desk job, this is probably not for you.
How is your day-to-day work different to what you expected?
I had no expectations. In hindsight, that counted in my favour.
What a) skills b) qualifications c) experience do employers look for in people who want to land your job?
A Photojournalism qualification is advisable, but not required. I don’t have a tertiary qualification in Photography, but passion and willingness to learn is a HUGE must. I worked a year for free, as an intern, to gain the experience before I was appointed.
Are there any changes you foresee in your industry that might influence the way teens should approach a career in your field?
The media industry is under huge pressure as revenues are dropping. So I foresee a lot of changes as media houses try to make sense of all the changes. Multimedia is a definite possibility, so schooling yourself in online photojournalism is advisable.
Is there anything you wish you had known when you were a teen, career-wise?
Try to get as much experience in different fields as possible, before you make up your mind. Try to intern in those fields.
You can stalk Cornél’s work via Twitters at @CornelvHeerden, via IG at @CornelvHeerden or at www.cornelvanheerden.com.