How to Be a Photo Researcher

There is more involved to being a photo researcher than what meets the eye.
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More than most people, photo researchers appreciate how images can enliven even the most ordinary stories and become the focal point for appreciative readers. Photo researchers must possess good research and analytical skills, both of which guide them to make the best artistic choices. Most photo researchers work for publishers, graphic design, marketing and advertising agencies and media companies. You might have what it takes to be a successful photo researcher if you take the time to picture the possibilities.

Step 1

Learn about a project’s requirements, tone and style and work with team members to ensure its timely execution. Photo researchers may work with writers, editors and graphic designers. Clients and outside vendors also may join the team, but one person in the group often functions as the project leader. The photo researcher must understand what is expected of him and heed the proper lines of authority and communication.

Step 2

Follow budget guidelines and understand budget protocols. Photo researchers are constantly weighing choices and, in the process, are faced with the dilemma of choosing a suitable photo that meets the project budget or pursuing an “ideal” photo that might break the budget.

Step 3

Explore all avenues to locate the most appropriate photos for a project. These photos are the heart and soul of a photo researcher’s job. These avenues might include in-house photo libraries, traditional libraries and museums and online photo-purchasing sites. Photo researchers also must secure permissions for photos that are copyrighted.

Step 4

Train an expert eye on what the photo of choice will look like when it’s reproduced. A photo researcher who is not trained in photography must know when to consult an expert to determine, for example, how a color photo might look in black and white or how a panoramic shot would look if it were cropped.

Step 5

Gather accurate information about the photo, including the name of the photographer (for a photo credit). A photo researcher often takes this information and writes a photo caption or a short, colorful blurb about what is taking place in the photo or why the photo is significant.

Step 6

Keep accurate records of borrowed photos and return them when the project is finished. Some museums and libraries still keep photos on CD-ROMs, and it is the photo researcher’s responsibility to ensure the safekeeping and integrity of these materials.

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