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Picture researcher/editor

Finds suitable pictures for use in a wide range of media products, including advertisements, books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues and television programmes.

Job description

Picture researchers and editors, sometimes termed photo buyers, search out images for use in print media, film and music, as well as the internet and other forms of new media. It is a picture researcher’s job to find appropriate images, check their quality, negotiate fees, administrate the project and solve legal problems, typically under the pressure of deadlines.

Working closely with journalists and designers to visually illustrate concepts in an imaginative, creative way, which extends the meaning of the text and enhances or underlines it, they deliver interesting and pertinent photographs to accompany a diverse range of articles.

Work activities

  • Sourcing appropriate images for the subject matter.
  • Clearing and negotiating rights of the reproduction of images.
  • Conducting an effective search at commercial photo libraries, private or state collections, museums and archives, using the web, as well as older methods of cataloguing such as card indexes and library catalogues.
  • Analysing and managing images of every format, including digital files, transparencies, prints, and illustrations, for defects, both technical and aesthetic.
  • Storing images safely as appropriate to the format.
  • Commissioning photographers to shoot particular images – briefing and arranging permissions, contracts and deadlines.
  • Negotiating finance such as budgeting, pricing and fee agreements.

Work conditions

Travel: not a routine part of the working day.
Working hours: flexible approach as there will be some late night and early morning shifts.
Location: mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible as many work on a freelance basis.

Typical employers

Picture researchers can be staff or freelance, and work in a wide variety of organisations, from publishing, newspapers, TV, video, film, advertising, through to all forms of new media.

Specific entry requirements

Proficiency using photo editing software such as Photoshop will more than likely be required. An understanding of copyright law and other legal matters, including model releases, and how they pertain to the use of the product is imperative.

Tips for applications

Knowledge of Flash, Picdar Media Mogul and other computer systems can be distinct advantages.

Skills and qualities

  • Sound knowledge of picture sources around the world.
  • Ability to quickly locate appropriate images.
  • A keen interest in current affairs.
  • Expertise with graphics software.
  • Ability to work calmly, methodically and quickly under deadline pressure.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with editors and others on changing needs.
  • Tenacious and determined when solving problems.
  • A firm understanding of copyright as it relates to photo use.
  • A good eye for design and detail.
  • Diplomacy in dealing with a wide variety of individuals.