We have always wondered about the role of a Picture Editor and what better way to find out than to catch up with the Picture Editor at the Guardian, one of Britain’s major national newspapers, Alice Turner.
The Guardian is internationally renowned for its digital-first strategy and has been regularly voted best newspaper site in the world. Just last year they won National Newspaper of the Year for the fourth time.
Here we have a chat about what a picture editor is, what the role involves and how she managed to nab that dream job.
Hi Alice! Can you tell me about your job as a picture editor at a news media organisation?
AT: Hi Tracey! Of course! My role is Picture Editor of Guardian Labs which is the section of the Guardian News and Media where we produce advertorials and sponsored features for commercial clients, which sit on the Guardian’s website or in the Guardian and Observer newspapers and magazines. I’m responsible for the running of a ‘Picture Desk’ where we produce original photo shoots or research pictures to go with features.
What are some of the interesting projects and subjects you are working on currently?
AT: At the moment, we are working with many clients which means that all our work is very varied. We have recently organised shoots with models in fitness gear for a night-time shoot for Sony Xperia mobile, real cat models for Nestlé Gourmet cat food, interiors for Grundig kitchens and recipes for Kerrygold butter so all very different types of photography!
What is in like in your shoes for a day? What are you are expected to do in a day’s work?
AT: I have a quick department meeting every morning where the heads of each department in the studio run through the priorities for the day, which work is on deadline and what everyone is working on. Then I have a run through with my team where we talk through each of the projects we are working on and share ideas. I then put arrangements in place for photo shoots – book photographers and, depending on the production, book fashion, food, prop or make-up stylists, scout locations and develop shoot concepts. Shoot days are fun as I work in a studio or on location where I direct the shoot and manage the crew.
What is the single most important quality that a successful picture editor needs?
“I’m always looking for up and coming new talent.”
How do you select photography and authors? Who is your main customer within the organisation and outside? Which tools do you use to get the best selection on photos?
AT: I choose the pictures that suit the Guardian’s editorial style, that the readers will enjoy, that are unusual, nicely lit with depth, and of excellent professional quality. Our main customers are our commercial clients and the Guardian readers.
How can a photographer get their work into your hands and appear in one of the Guardian’s projects?
AT: It is a competitive field, but photographers can send me their portfolios on spec via email or get in touch by phone. I’m always looking for up and coming new talent.
What is your background with photography or images? How did your career evolve into picture editing?
AT: I did a degree in Media Communications with modules in Photography at The University of Gloucestershire. I started out by doing lots of work experience on magazines I enjoyed reading, absorbing all that was going on in these busy offices and making lots of tea!
Can you briefly describe your steps to having the amazing job you have today?
AT: University degree in Media Communications
Work experience with determination to learn and take advice from those doing the role
Making contacts by going to industry events, getting in touch with picture editors I met along the way
Freelance work – learning on the job
Building up a portfolio of work
Applying for jobs via websites and newspapers – I got my first job through the website for the Guardian, ‘Guardian Jobs’!
Do you have any advice for aspiring photo editors?
AT: Apply for work experience or internships within media companies, magazines, newspapers or content agencies and make yourself indispensable!
A huge thank you to Alice for her time.
Follow her on Twitter at @AliceRHammond