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Photo Research Manager

Head up the department charged with finding photos for books or magazines.

What does a Photo Research Manager do?

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Sometimes, however, it’s also worth $1,000 – or more. For that reason, media companies establish photo research departments to secure the rights to reproducible artwork. A Photo Research Manager oversees one of those departments.

As a Photo Research Manager, you’re typically employed by a book or magazine publisher, although you might also work for an advertising agency, a film production company, or a graphic design firm. There, you serve as head Photo Researcher and manage a staff of lower-level Photo Researchers beneath you.

In simple terms, photo research is all about finding images to use in books, magazines, advertisements, digital image libraries, movies, video games, computer software, and other visual projects. When you’re a Photo Research Manager, therefore, you work with Editors, Graphic Designers, and Art Directors to establish the art needs for a particular project, be it a fashion magazine, coffee table book, or documentary TV special. Then, you work with your staff to create or locate appropriate images based on criteria such as content, size, style, orientation, and, of course, cost. This might require securing art from a stock photography agency, borrowing photographs from the collections of private museums and archives, or commissioning custom photography from a professional Photographer, which requires arranging, scheduling, and coordinating photo shoots.

No matter where the art comes from, it’s your job as a Photo Research Manager to find it, document its source, and obtain permissions and copyrights so you can use it.

Of course, you’re also a Supervisor. In addition to your photo research duties, therefore, you have management duties, such as hiring and evaluating staff, delegating work, and overseeing budgets. Mostly, though, you’re a treasure hunter: You’re paid to find visual gold!