Digital-imaging-credit-tim-regan_bannerDigital Imaging © Tim Regan

Digital Imaging Specialist (Photographic laboratories)

Photo Imaging
Personality type:
Photographic Laboratories and Image Producers

The lowdown

  • Colour-correcting and digitally manipulating images for printing or archiving

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have excellent IT skills on PC and Mac
  • be skilled in image-manipulation and image-management software 
  • be familiar with other design software, including Quark and Creative Suite
  • have good maths skills and understand geometric ratios
  • have a keen interest in photography and a strong visual awareness
  • have good colour vision, and the ability to assess accurately the colour, density and contrast level of images
  • be able to interpret instructions from clients accurately
  • be able to work methodically under pressure without compromising quality
  • pay close attention to detail

What does a Digital Imaging Specialist do?

The Digital Imaging Specialist's role involves colour correction and digital manipulation of images for printing or archiving. The images are sourced from scanned film or prints, or from digital originals.

Digital Imaging Specialists must first agree the format and finish of the image with the client. They then use image manipulation software such as Photoshop to resize, reformat, colour correct, adjust contrast, remove unwanted background, or combine features from different photographs.

Images are then output as digital files or printed using a variety of printing equipment. While most images are now from digital cameras, scanning negatives, transparencies and prints is still likely to form part of the job. There is also a lot of work in the restoration of old photographs. Digital Imaging Specialists may be involved in the archiving and cataloguing of images.

The Digital Imaging Specialist needs to be able to assess the colour, density and contrast level of images. They also need to calibrate the digital manipulation and printing equipment regularly to ensure the best results.

Digital Imaging Specialists may also be expected to carry out some design and layout work using programmes like Quark, Illustrator and InDesign. They may need to operate some of the specialised printing equipment when required (see Machine Print Operator).

What might I earn?

The work is largely technical and pay rates are moderate, however, the work is stable and employees enjoy the benefits of regular pay, holidays and other benefits such as a pension plan.

Will I need a qualification?

You don't need a formal qualification to be a Digital Imaging Specialist. However, many colleges now offer NVQ and SVQ qualifications in Digital Imaging, so you could get an excellent grounding and then apply for this kind of work directly from college.

The Advanced Apprenticeship in Photo Imaging would give you an excellent grounding in this role, along with professional experience.

You will be expected to have good computing skills and a working knowledge of image manipulation software, such as Photoshop. Experience with software such as Quark, Illustrator or InDesign will also be a bonus.

Some image producers may advertise for personnel with a BTEC National Diploma in Art & Design (Photography) or a BTEC Higher National Certificate or Diploma in Art & Design (Photography). Your employer may also support work-based qualifications, such as Apprenticeships and NVQ/SVQs.

What’s the best route in?

You could move into a Digital Imaging Specialist role following previous experience as a film processing technician, photographic printer or print finisher. However, many colleges now offer NVQ and SVQ qualifications in Digital Imaging so you could secure a position directly from college, without previous laboratory experience.

Where might the role take me?

Routes open to you from a Digital Imaging Specialist role include moving into laboratory management or new product development. You could also become self-employed or move into work in a similar capacity in photo imaging laboratories within hospitals or scientific research establishments.


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up