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Photo Researcher Job Description, Career as a Photo Researcher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Photo researchers find and secure reproducible artwork for their clients. The artwork and other graphics may appear in books, advertisements, film, television, video games, computer software, or other visual projects. Photo researchers work primarily with digital images of photographs; however, they may also obtain other types of artwork such as tapestry, sculpture, or newspaper cartoons. Most photo researchers are employed by book and magazine publishers. Some work for advertising agencies, film or television companies, or industrial firms. Many photo researchers prefer to work on a freelance basis.

Photo researchers must locate appropriate pictures for a given project within a budget, obtain permissions and copyright requirements for their use, commission photographs when needed, and return unneeded items promptly and undamaged. They need to be familiar with all aspects of photographic reproduction in order to determine what an image will look like when reproduced. In some cases, photo researchers may have to travel to find photographs. They must also keep accurate records of all the photographs that come into their possession.

Education and Training Requirements

Photo researchers must have a college degree and a strong background in the visual arts. Accuracy and organizational ability are essential, as is knowledge of the print and electronic reproduction process. In addition, researchers must understand business procedures in order to negotiate fees and rights. Computer proficiency is required since photo researchers utilize digital images and conduct much of their research online.

Getting the Job

Most photo researchers obtain their positions after working in another capacity in the visual arts. Entry-level jobs are available as assistants to researchers or editors. A photo researcher must be able to locate appropriate photographs for specific projects and evaluate the content and quality of the photographs. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.) College placement offices can help graduates locate job openings in the visual arts field. Interested individuals can also contact the personnel offices of publishing companies or other firms that employ photo researchers.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Photo researchers can become picture editors, art directors, or senior editors. Some establish their own freelance businesses.

The employment outlook for photo researchers is good through the year 2014. The demand for visuals from the publishing, television, film, and advertising industries and the explosive growth of the video and computer software industries will create jobs for photo researchers.

Working Conditions

Photo researchers generally work in offices, often using a computer to search archives for appropriate images. They must also travel to libraries, museums, photo archives, or private collections to find materials. Photo researchers often work with tight deadlines and limited budgets.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries for photo researchers vary on the project and on the type of employer. Advertising, television, film, and video companies tend to pay more than publishers. The average starting salary for full-time photo researchers ranges from $21,000 to $30,000 per year. Experienced researchers and freelancers who work steadily may earn $45,000 annually.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society of Picture Professionals
117 S. Saint Asaph St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-0219

Salaried photo researchers generally receive medical benefits, paid sick days and vacations, paid holidays, and a retirement plan. Freelancers must provide their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts