Half a century ago, I can bet that there was nothing like a career as a photo editor. You were either a photographer or you stayed off the field. Even today, Photography is still a prerequisite to becoming a photo editor in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has made it mandatory that a photo editor must have a degree and experience as a professional photographer. I usually have tidbits to give to aspiring photo editors and it all begins with pursuing a four-year bachelor’s program in photojournalism, photography or visual communication.
What you will be taught in your bachelor’s program will dwell on basics on how to use a camera, dealing with lighting and photo editing. All this knowledge will be instrumental when you finally settle into editing photos. As a photo editor, the first thing that comes to my mind is how to make every photograph convey emotions and thoughts. This skill can be honed through curriculum courses in photography and visual communications. Some of the courses that you may encounter include web design, portrait photography, color composition technique and film processing.
As a photo editor, you may be working with photographers.
This is the main reason why you have to develop your eye for photography. In an article by JohnLoengard forNieman Reports, he stated it clearly that photo editors should be able to distinguish good shots from great ones. The beauty of a photograph may not be about the quality but sometimes lies in the topic of oddness. Photojournalists have an advantage over other journalists because they can combine their news sense with editing skills to propose a story.
I can’t believe that there was a time when photo editors were regarded as failed journalists; today, they are held in high esteem. Their services are required by news agencies, newspapers, magazines and photo archives. The pay is also very attractive. In fact, salary.com’s survey revealed that a photo editor with two to four years working experience earns more than $64,000 annually.
To get there, you will definitely need to have a good relationship with photographers. Your chances of being hired by a magazine are somehow linked to your relationship with renowned photographers. Every photographer has his or her unique style and when you are working on a project as a photo editor, you need a photographer that will be able to translate your ideas properly. This is why photo editors need a long list of contacts. Keeping a list of editorial photographers can help you get in tune with their style but that means that you have to be on the newsstand as frequently as possible. You can pick up loads of experience if you gain an internship or find a photo editor that will mentor you.
In the field of photo editing, there is no amount of knowledge that can be termed too much.
There is a lot you can learn when you talk with professionals who have been there in the field. When I set out to become a photo editor, I met a couple of professionals who gave me hints on how to become a success and I am transferring that knowledge on to upcoming photo editors as well as those subtle lessons I learned on my own. Inasmuch as you need to learn from professionals, you need to carve your own niche when you get on board, because that is the only way you can make your mark in the field or leave a legacy when you are gone. The competition in the field is growing and I think the burgeoning photo editing freeware market has played a part in this. It has spiked the interest and admiration of many people that they now want a piece of it.
Staying creative is the only way you can keep up in this field. If you are working with the same photographer for five to six images in a row and you stick with the same concept, you’ll probably be fired. Coming up with new concepts every time may not be an easy task and you may be yearning for inspiration. What I do at such points is scan through the archives of a well-known photo editor. It has always worked for me and I believe it will work for you too.