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According to Chron.com, “Photo Editors are in charge of coordinating photo assignments by selecting, editing, and positioning photos, and publishing images in print publications and on the web. Photo editing is a dynamic job that requires excellent visual, communication, and organizational skills, as well as a strong adherence to deadlines.”

As pointed out by Study, “the duties of a Photo Editor differ depending on the type of industry. Photo editors might meet with managers to discuss what types of pictures are required for a certain project and then give out photo assignments to staff. After pictures are taken, the Photo Editor typically reviews the pictures and if changes are needed, alters the photos accordingly…Additional duties of a Photo Editor might include training new staff members, ordering supplies for the photo department and making sure that the cameras and other equipment are working properly.”

What does a Photo Editor do, typically?

Serving behind the scenes, like a project manager

As a Photo Editor, they do the work that is essential for publishing/distributing photos. Photo Editors spend their days, as described by MediaBistro, “determining photo needs, hiring photographers, allocating and coordinating assignments and approving images. A Photo Editor also selects, edits, and positions photos; negotiates fees and rights agreements; arranges travel; books studio time; and gets permissions to shoot.” Photo Editors must be able to make editorial decisions through the images they select. Each image is a story, and like an editor reviewing/approving copy for distribution, a Photo Editor reviews/approves images for distribution, ensuring brand standards, compliance, and messaging fit the goals/mission of the organization.”

Use a variety of technical skills/software programs

Photo Editors work for creative departments and use tools like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Corel PaintShop Pro. Lightroom and Bridge are some of the more commonly used photo editing software programs. There are also apps such as TouchRetouch, Enlight, VSCO, Afterlight 2, and more, that Photo Editors use to help become more proficient in editing photos for distribution/publish. Photo Editors also work closely with creative, marketing, and social media teams to edit and prepare images for social media uploads, such as for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Strong business skills

If a company doesn’t have a staff photographer, the Photo Editor is responsible for finding/hiring a freelance or contract photographer. They must not only be able to find/hire talent, they must also negotiate prices/rates with that photographer. So a strong understanding of the business side of photography, as well as the ability to keep projects/fees within budget, are crucial. Photo Editors also need to understand the business goals/needs of a project.

They must be able to understand the photographers’ skill level/ability related to the subject matter, as well as be able to make editorial decisions that fit project goals. Photo Editors should look to build long-term relationships with photographers, saving time searching for photographers in the future, and helping to gain an understanding of the expected costs involved with a project. Some Photo Editors like to establish relationships with multiple/several photographers based on expertise and availability.

Photo Editors versus Photographers

Photographers play a key role in photographing images used to capture moments, tell stories, and promote a brand. Photographers are hired by corporations, startups, digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, creative departments (freelance/contract) and take on a wide variety of roles capturing important moments through photography. Photographers are true creative specialists and tell stories through the imagery they produce.

Photo Editors take the imagery captured by Photographers and then review, edit, format, manipulate, and prepare for digital upload, use, launch, and sharing. A photographer may submit 20 images of the same topic, while the Photo Editor then selects the best image, or image(s) most appropriate for publishing. The Photo Editor also usually has a background – or strong understanding – of editorial/news, content development, marketing, and publishing. Photo editors may also manage a team of other junior Photo Editors or creative assistants, and be the key contact for the photographer.

Bonus copy for Your Photographer job description or job ad!

Copy the following text and paste it into your own job description, or, into our downloadable template in the section that looks like this: <INSERT JOB DESCRIPTION COPY FROM BLOG POST HERE>

As a Photo Editor at <Company XXX>, you have a passion for photography and telling stories through imagery. You have experience working as a professional photographer but are completely comfortable with now being behind the scenes, leading/managing photographers, and working in an in-house role leading the editorial direction as our Photo Editor. In addition, you will have:

  • Leadership skills: Proven experience managing a large group of photographers a plus
  • Negotiation skills: Experience negotiating contracts and assigning projects to a reputable and reliable group of freelance photographers
  • Strong technical skills, and be comfortable with editing software such as Photoshop, InDesign, Bridge, Lightroom, and more
  • Skilled working with creative, digital marketing and social media teams to prepare/edit/distribute large volumes of imagery for a wide variety of uses
  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced environment with deadlines and where project needs can quickly change
  • Be a strong decision-maker, with editorial skills and an understanding of how an image tells our company story
  • Previous experience in an agency or corporate Photo Editor role a plus

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