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In a newspaper, magazine or journal, the picture editor is responsible for researching, sourcing and selecting all visual material for the publication. This may involve either finding existing images or commissioning photographers and artists to produce new material.
In the event that they commission an external photographer, they will need to ensure all copyright forms are signed accordingly.
They will be responsible for choosing appropriate images, most often photographs but also illustrations, to accompany articles and features throughout the publication. For magazines this also includes the cover.
The picture editor will usually attend and direct photo shoots to ensure that the end product matches the requirements stated in the brief. They will be in charge of choosing and finding locations, models, props and equipment. They may even photograph subjects themselves.
They attend meetings with the editorial department to discuss and plan creative and design aspects of the publication and listen to and offer ideas.
Picture editors will spend much of the office or newsroom time sitting at a pictures desk, normally with a team of designers and picture researchers. Here, they will look through pictures and photographs and decide which are best to use in the publication, which need editing and which are to be rejected.
They will edit, adjust and optimise pictures using software programmes. All images, whether used in the final edit or not, will be organised and filed in picture archives.
In smaller companies the role of a picture editor may be undertaken by another member of staff, such as a creative or art director.