Picture editor job information

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Lisa Poole is picture director on a lifestyle magazine. She provides the pictures that make magazine features come to life.

Can you describe your role?

I am responsible for all the pictures that go into the magazine, apart from the ones that appear in the fashion and beauty sections. That means I have to provide photographs to go with celebrity interviews, real life stories, reader's own stories and features.

At editorial meetings, the team plans the features that will appear in forthcoming issues of the magazine. I have to come up with ideas to illustrate the items and arrange photo shoots.

How do you get the pictures?

Usually, we have specific photographs taken to illustrate the feature story. Shooting a feature involves organising a photographer, location, props, make-up artist and models. I keep a contact list of people who I know will do a good job and create the right look for the magazine.

How do you get involved in a shoot?

I go to the shoot to ensure the photographs match my original idea. That involves making sure that the right props are used in the right places, and that the celebrities or models have the right clothes, hair and make-up and are in the right positions.

What happens once you get the pictures?

After the shoot, I check the photographs that have been taken. Some might need editing – for example, I might decide that a celebrity photograph would look better as a head and shoulders shot, rather than full-length portrait, so I crop the image. When I have decided which photographs I want to use in the magazine, I order prints.

Do you get pictures from anywhere else?

Yes, I always have to aware of the cost of photography. Sometimes, it might be cheaper to buy in pictures from an agency rather than going to the expense of organising a specific photographic shoot.

How do you organise your week?

I spend two or three days a week out of the office at photo shoots. When I am in the office, I spend a lot of time doing picture research, I look at current magazines and newspapers to see what sort of photos they are using, and make sure I keep up to date with the latest pictures from the agencies. This is particularly important with celebrities who often change their hair and dress styles. Readers would notice if I used an out-of-date picture.

Who else do you work with?

I have a deputy and picture assistant and I manage their work. I also have to work very closely with all the other departments – fashion, beauty, production, writers, designers and, of course, the editor.

What qualities do you need to do your job?

The most important thing is to be able to work well under pressure. It is also important to communicate well with other members of the team. You will need to be creative and have a sense of humour. IT skills are not essential but they can help, especially when editing pictures.

What hours do you work?

Officially I work from 9.30am to 6.00pm. I have to be prepared to work late when necessary to meet deadlines. Some photo shoots take place on Saturdays, but I usually get time off during the week to make up for that.

Lisa's route to becoming a picture editor

  • A levels including art.
  • BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design.
  • BA degree in illustration and Animation.
  • Masters in illustration.
  • Five years working on a variety of magazines.

Lisa's tips

  • Try to find work experience on a picture desk and impress people with your helpfulness and enthusiasm.
  • Personal recommendations are important in this business and word soon spreads if you show you have talent and commitment.
  • You must be creative with a good eye for a picture.

Picture editor related jobs

  • Advertising art director
  • Illustrator, photographer
  • Photographic stylist
  • Photographic technician
  • TV/Film director

Salary information

  • Salaries start at around £15,000, rising to about £25,000 with experience.
  • On national, large circulation magazines, you can expect £30,000 or more.

Picture editor job information

  • There are no specific entry requirements, but most entrants are trained to HND or degree level.
  • Qualifications in photography or other visual arts subjects are the most relevant.
  • Employers will expect you to have an impressive portfolio of work.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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