Photo editor jobs have been around in the world of publishing for decades.
And the right job can pay quite handsomely.
Contrary to popular belief, photo editors are not involved in the actual taking of photographs.
Yet, they are definitely a major player from beginning to end of a campaign, starting with hashing out ideas on a visual board, telling photographers what they’re looking for, obtaining permission for a photo-shoot at a specific place, and even hiring the right photographer for a particular job.
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An editor is someone who corrects, edits and improves everything that’s written on a magazine or book.
The photo editor, on the other hand, handles everything involved in choosing photos for publication, editing these photos to perfection, and coordinating assignments between members of the photo team.
How to Get Started as Photo Editor
There is no specific educational route to take in order to become a photo editor, but photography should be a major part of the journey. Many photo editors worked as a press photographer or as part of any publication.
As a photo editor, you may not be behind the lens taking pictures, but you must have plenty of experience with photography, lighting, color balance, and other techniques needed to make a perfect shot.
While the photographer you hire would have his/her own style, you’ll be the one telling them the idea for the shoot, what background you want, and other small details.
Photo editors must also have:
- knowledge in all forms of art
- excellent organization skills for planning the logistics of a photo shoot and overall campaign
- superb communication skills for putting ideas into words
- people skills because they work with all kinds of talent
As for computer programs, you should have advanced skills imaging software like Photoshop and InDesign, or photo editing software like Bridge and Lightroom.
Sometimes, photo editors may also be involved in video editing, so their skills may need to extend to videos as well.
Depending on the company looking for a photo editor, the position may also be called “multimedia editor,” “picture editor,” or ” director of photography.”
What Does a Photo Editor do?
When you say photo editor, the job may refer to two things:
- Someone who edits a photo or video, judges quality of images, and chooses photos or videos based on a set of standards; or
- Someone who brainstorm ideas, directs photographers and other members of the team, picks the photographs to use in a project, edits photos based on your company’s standards, and so on…
Obviously, the job of the first type of photo editor has less responsibilities since his work focuses only at the task of editing a photo or video.
However, the job can be just as hectic and would usually involve some kind of quota, especially if you’re working remotely.
The second type of photo editor faces deadline pressures regularly. Tight production times are part of the job, whether they work in a busy publication or as part of a social media team.
Where Can You Find Photo Editor Jobs?
In the past, photo editors and photographers are the same person. The tasks are combined, so the photographer-photo editor does everything from concepts to the actual picture-taking, then picking from the pile and editing final pieces.
In recent years, the roles of a photo editor and photographer had to be separated because of how quickly information are gathered and published.
A great example of this is how digital magazines began as monthly subscriptions and have gradually moved to bimonthly, weekly and even daily.
Now, with the expertise and trained eye of photo editors, they help make the jobs of photographers, digital artists, copywriters, or graphic designers easier, more organized, and more in line with the task at hand.
You can find photo editor jobs in traditional newsrooms, magazines, big or small publishing houses, greeting card companies, advertising agencies, and other media-related companies.
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And because almost every company maintains a website, newsletter or social media accounts, photo editor jobs are also available at non-profit organizations, IT companies, government agencies, and any company across a wide range of industries.
Stock Photo Sites
The biggest chunk of photo editor jobs are found in stock photo agencies.
Take for example New York-based company Shutterstock.com, one of the most popular resource for stock photos.
Check out its career section and click the “content” category. See how many photo editors they need at a time?
That’s because the company receives photo submissions by the minute and the influx of photos uploaded to Shutterstock will always be more than the photo editors can handle.
Photo Editing Apps
Mendr (a popular photo editing app) used to have openings for photo editor jobs.
Around 2017, it went viral as one of the most in-demand photo editing jobs from home and an awesome way to make money with photoshop.
But alas, the app fizzled out and so did the jobs it offered.
Check other photo editing phone apps for similar job opportunities.
If you’re looking for online photo editing jobs, your best bet is to check out FlexJobs, where you can find both work-from-home and office-based opportunities.
How Much Can You Get Paid to Edit Photos?
Office-based photo editors begin earning around $30,000 annually, but this salary can increase up to $80,000 a year for senior-level editors.
A huge advantage of working as an employee of stock photo agencies and other corporations is that benefits like health insurance and paid vacation time are included on top of the salary. Plus, they are mostly paid higher than their work-from-home counterparts.
Self-employed photo editors may have flexible work schedules, but they often earn minimum wage (from $10 to $15 an hour) in exchange of the flexibility afforded by this set-up.
As you may soon discover, online photo editing is usually exclusive to the editing part of the job. If you do land a work-from-home job, don’t expect to lead a campaign’s photo direction (as with traditional photo editing positions).
Are Photo Editor Jobs Right for You?
Of course, like most skill-specific jobs, becoming a photo editor isn’t for everybody. You do need to have the eye to spot a perfect photo composition, pick the best photos from a batch, edit the components of an image, and oversee a bunch of small tasks to arrive at an end-product to match the concepts made at the start of every campaign.
But for those who think photo editing is perfect for them, here’s some good news: the outlook for this job is on the rise for a couple of reasons.
First, Photographers are passionate with their craft, so switching into a job that doesn’t require them to go behind the lens isn’t very appealing to most photographers. As a result, the percentage of photographers who decide to take the route of a photo editor is very low.
Second, more and more companies are publishing regular content for their products or services on websites, newsletters, phone apps and other mediums. Photo editing jobs are no longer exclusive to the print industry, which means you’ll have more opportunities available beyond magazines, newspapers and similar companies. .
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Aside from photo editing, here’s how other people make money with photography, and how anybody could use their phones to take photos and sell them for $5 each.