Photo Editors


Exploring this Job

To see if this career might be for you, explore your interests. Get involved with your school yearbook or newspaper. Both of these publications often appoint student photo editors to assist with photo acquisitions and layout. You should also try your hand at photography. To be a knowledgeable and successful editor, you need to know the medium in which you work.

You could also try to speak to a professional photo editor about his or her work. Ask a teacher or your counselor to set up a meeting, and think of questions to ask the editor ahead of time.

The Job

The final look of a print or online publication is the result of many workers. The photo editor is responsible for the pictures, and often videos (digital publishing), you see in these publications. They work with photographers, videographers, reporters, authors, copy editors, and company executives to make sure final photos help to illustrate, enlighten, or inspire the reader.

Photo editors, though knowledgeable in photography, generally leave the shooting to staff or contract photographers. Editors meet with their managers or clients to determine the needs of the project and brainstorm ideas for photos that will meet the project's goals. After picture ideas have been discussed, editors give photographers assignments, always including a firm deadline for completion. Most editors work for companies that face firm deadlines; if the editor doesn't have pictures to work with in time, the whole project is held up.

Once photos have arrived, the editor gets to work, using computer software to crop or enlarge shots, alter the coloring of images, or emphasize the photographer's use of shadows or light. All this work requires knowledge of photography, an aesthetic eye, and an awareness of the project's needs. Editors working for a newspaper must be sure to publish photos that are true to life, while editors working for a fine arts publication can alter images to create a more abstract effect.

Photo editors purchase photographs from photo stock agencies to meet project needs. Depending on the size and type of company the editor works for, he or she might not have a staff of photographers to work with. Stock agencies fill this need. Editors can browse stock photos for sale online or in brochures. Even with purchased photos, the editor still has to make sure the image fits the needs and space of the project.

In addition to working with photos, editors take on managerial tasks, such as assigning deadlines, organizing the office, ordering supplies, training employees, and overseeing the work of others. Along with copy and project editors, the photo editor is in contact with members of upper management or outside clients, and thus he or she is responsible for communicating their needs and desires to other workers.