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Digital Imaging Specialist (Picture library)

Photo Imaging
Personality type:
Picture libraries

The lowdown

  • Digitally manipulating, colour managing, colour correcting and keyword tagging images in preparation for storage in a picture library’s archive

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • possess excellent IT skills on both Mac and PC, and be skilled in the use of Photoshop or similar software
  • be skilled in the use of other design software, ideally, such as InDesign, Quark or Illustrator
  • have normal colour vision
  • be able to assess the colour, density and contrast level of images accurately
  • be able to interpret instructions accurately
  • be a good team player
  • be able to work well under pressure to meet deadlines without compromising quality
  • be organised and methodical
  • pay close attention to detail
  • have a fair knowledge of the history of photography

What does a Digital Imaging Specialist (Picture library) do?

Digital Imaging Specialists who work in a picture library are responsible for the downloading, colour management, digital manipulation, colour correction, keyword tagging and input of photographic images for storage in the library's digital archives.

The work is largely technical. Pictures need to be in a standard format used by the particular library or agency, so negatives, transparencies and digital images need to be scanned, resized, reformatted and colour-corrected ready for cataloguing and archiving. The Digital Imaging Specialist will also need to calibrate all digital equipment on a regular basis to ensure optimum results.

They must understand the end uses to which the images will be put so that they can tag the images with the appropriate keywords so that they are easy to retrieve.

Though most photo images are now produced on digital cameras, picture libraries often have extensive back libraries of film, and working with film is still likely to form a significant part of the job. The Digital Imaging Specialist may also be involved in the restoration of old photographs.

What might I earn?

The work is not that creative but it is interesting, and Digital Imaging Specialists are usually employees working pre-defined shifts. This means that while rates of pay are moderate, they do enjoy the benefits of a regular hours and a predictable income.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t have to take a formal qualification to do this role. However, there are now NVQs and SVQs in digital imaging, and an Apprenticeship in Photo Imaging, that could give help you secure your first job as a Digital Imaging Specialist.

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

Some employers may also give preference to candidates with BTECs, foundation degrees and bachelor’s degrees in photography.

If you are considering taking a photo imaging course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the photo imaging industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the extent to which they prepare you for a photo imaging career:

Photo imaging courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

This is quite a new role and until now, your main route in would have been to work first in a print finisher role or as a photographic technician. However, by taking an NVQ or SVQ qualification in digital imaging, you may now be able to enter a Digital Imaging Specialist role directly from college.

The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA) regularly lists job vacancies on its website. Many individual library websites (e.g. Getty Images) also publish information on training and job vacancies.


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