Occupation Profile for Photographic Process Workers

Perform precision work involved in photographic processing, such as editing photographic negatives and prints, using photo-mechanical, chemical, or computerized methods.

 
 

Significant Points

  • Most workers receive on-the-job training from their companies, manufacturers’ representatives, and experienced workers.
  • A rapid decline in employment is expected as digital photography becomes commonplace.
  • Job opportunities will be best for individuals with experience using computers and digital technology.

 

 
 
Overview
$23,280.00 Median Annual Wage 1,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
9.7 Average Unemployment Percentage 42.2 Percentage That Completed High School
24,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 39.4 Percentage That Had Some College
15,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 18.5 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Air Brush Artist
Airbrush Artist
Apprentice, Paste Up Copy Camera Operator
Art Tracer
Black and White Print Technician
Color Corrector
Colorist, Photography
Contact Printer
Copy Camera Operator
Custom Color Technician
Detailer, School Photographs
Developer
Digital Imager
Digital Imaging Technician
Digital Printer
Digital Production Manager
Digital Retoucher
Digital Technician
Doper
Enlarger
Film Cleaner
Film Color Tester
Film Examiner
Film Mounter
Film Numberer
Film Process Operator
Film Reproducer
Film Splicer
Film Technician
Film Washer
Film Waxer
Finisher
Helper, Photographer
Hypo Splasher
Inspector, Film
Inspector, Photograph
Joiner
Lab Technician
Magnifier
Motion Picture Film Examiner
Motion Picture Printer
Negative Cleaner
Negative Restorer
Negative Retoucher
Negative Spotter
Numberer, Film
Packaging Operator
Photo Assembler
Photo Colorer
Photo Finisher
Photo Lab Technician
Photo Lab Technician (Photographic Laboratory Technician)
Photo Printer
Photo Technician
Photograph Developer
Photograph Enlarger
Photograph Finisher
Photograph Mounter
Photograph Printer
Photograph Retoucher
Photograph Sorter
Photograph Tinter
Photographer
Photographic Aide
Photographic Plate Maker
Photographic Printer
Photographic Technician
Photostat Operator
Picture Enlarger
Print Developer
Print Finisher
Print Retoucher
Printer
Production Worker
Projection Printer
Proof Passer
Quality Control Head
Reproducer
Reproduction Specialist
Reproduction Technician
Retail Sales Associate
Screen Examiner
Screen Maker
Screwmaker, Photographic Press
Slide Maker
Spotter, Photographic
Spotter, Photography
Technician, Color or Color Laboratory
Technician, Darkroom
Technician, Film
Technician, Microfilm
Technician, Photographic
Technician, Reproduction
Template Reproduction Technician
Timer

Training
  • These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, pharmacy technicians, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
  • These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate's or bachelor's degree could be needed.
  • Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience may be helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a teller might benefit from experience working directly with the public, but an inexperienced person could still learn to be a teller with little difficulty.
  • Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.

Most photographic process workers and processing machine operators receive on-the-job training from their companies, manufacturers’ representatives, and experienced workers. New employees gradually learn to use the machines and chemicals that develop and print film and the computer techniques to process and print digital images.

Education and training. Employers prefer applicants who are high school graduates or who have some experience in the field. Familiarity with computers is essential for photographic processing machine operators. The ability to perform simple mathematical calculations also is helpful.

Photography courses that include instruction in film processing are valuable preparation. Such courses are available through high schools, vocational-technical institutes, private trade schools, and colleges and universities; some colleges offer degrees in photographic technology.

On-the-job training in photographic processing occupations can range from just a few hours for print machine operators to several months for photographic processing workers such as airbrush artists and colorists. Some workers attend periodic training seminars to maintain a high level of skill. With much of the processing and editing work now being done on computers, employees must continually learn new programs as they become available.

Other qualifications. Manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination, and good vision, including normal color perception, are important qualifications for photographic process workers.

Advancement. Photographic process machine workers can sometimes advance from jobs as machine operators to supervisory positions in laboratories or to management positions within retail stores.

Nature of Work

Both amateur and professional photographers rely heavily on photographic process workers and processing machine operators to develop film, make prints or slides, and do related tasks, such as enlarging or retouching photographs. Photographic processing machine operators operate various machines, such as mounting presses and motion picture film printing, photographic printing, and film developing machines. Photographic process workers perform more delicate tasks, such as retouching photographic negatives, prints, and images to emphasize or correct specific features.

Processing machine operators who work with digital images first load the raw images onto a computer, either directly from the camera or, more commonly, from a storage device such as a flash card or CD. Most processing of the images is done automatically by software, but images may also be reviewed manually by the operator, who then selects the images the customer wants printed and the quantity. Some digital processors also upload images onto a Web site so that the customer can view them from a home computer and share them with others.

Photographic processing machine operators often have specialized jobs. Film process technicians operate machines that develop exposed photographic film or sensitized paper in a series of chemical and water baths to produce negative or positive images. First, technicians mix developing and fixing solutions, following a formula. They then load the film in the machine, which immerses the exposed film in the various solutions to bring out the image. Finally they rinse it in water to remove the chemicals. The technician then dries the film. In some cases, these steps are performed by hand.

Color printer operators control equipment that produces color prints from negatives. These workers read customer instructions to determine processing requirements. They load film into color printing equipment, examine negatives to determine equipment control settings, set controls, and produce a specified number of prints. Finally, they inspect the finished prints for defects, remove any that are found, and insert the processed negatives and prints into an envelope for return to the customer.

Photographic process workers, sometimes known as digital imaging technicians, use computer images of conventional negatives and specialized computer software to vary the contrast of images, remove unwanted background, or combine features from different photographs.

Although computers and digital technology are replacing much manual work, some photographic process workers, especially those who work in portrait studios, still perform many specialized tasks by hand directly on the photo or negative. Airbrush artists restore damaged and faded photographs, and may color or shade drawings to create photographic likenesses using an airbrush. Photographic retouchers alter photographic negatives, prints, or images to accentuate the subject. Colorists apply oil colors to portrait photographs to create natural, lifelike appearances. Photographic spotters remove imperfections on photographic prints and images.

Work environment. Photographic process workers and processing machine operators generally work in clean, appropriately lighted, well-ventilated, and air-conditioned offices, photofinishing laboratories, or one-hour minilabs. In recent years, more commercial photographic processing has been done on computers than in darkrooms, and this trend is expected to continue.

Some photographic process workers and processing machine operators are exposed to the chemicals and fumes associated with developing and printing. These workers must wear rubber gloves and aprons and take precautions against these hazards. Those who use computers for extended periods may experience back pain, eyestrain, or fatigue.

Photographic processing machine operators must do repetitive work accurately and at a rapid pace. Photographic process workers do detailed tasks, such as airbrushing and spotting, which can contribute to eye fatigue.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Earnings of photographic process workers vary greatly depending on skill level, experience, and geographic location. Median hourly earnings for photographic process workers were $11.19 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.61 and $15.12. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.32, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.43. Median hourly earnings were $11.65 in photographic services.

Median hourly earning for photographic processing machine operators were $9.38 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.01 and $11.44. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.16, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.92. Median hourly earnings in the two industries employing the largest numbers of photographic processing machine operators were $9.58 in photographic services and $8.50 in health and personal care stores.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Photographic process workers
  • Photographic processing machine operators
  • Job Outlook

    A rapid decline in employment is expected for photographic process workers and processing machine operators through the year 2016. Job opportunities will be best for individuals with experience using computers and digital technology.

    Employment change. Employment of photographic process workers and processing machine operators is expected to decline rapidly by 45 percent over the 2006-16 decade. Digital cameras, which use electronic memory rather than film to record images, have in recent years become standard among professional photographers. They are rapidly gaining in popularity among amateur photographers as well as the cost of these cameras continues to fall. This will continue to reduce the demand for traditional photographic processing machine operators. However, while many digital camera owners will choose to print their own pictures with their own equipment, a growing number of casual photographers are choosing not to acquire the needed equipment and skills to print the photos themselves. For them, self-service machines and online ordering services will be able to meet most of the demand, but there will still be some demand for professionals to print digital photos and operate the machines, as well as to develop and print photos from those who continue to use film cameras.

    Digital photography also will reduce demand for photographic process workers. Using digital cameras and technology, consumers who have a personal computer and the proper software are able to download and view pictures on their computer, as well as to manipulate, correct, and retouch their own photographs. No matter what improvements occur in camera technology, though, some photographic processing tasks will still require skillful manual treatment.

    Job prospects. Job opportunities will be best for individuals with experience using computers and digital technology. Employment fluctuates somewhat over the course of the year, typically peaking during school graduation and summer vacation periods.

    Employment

    Photographic process workers held about 24,000 jobs in 2006. Photographic processing machine operators held about 49,000 jobs in 2006.

    About 20 percent of photographic process workers were employed in photographic services. An additional 13 percent were employed by electronic and appliance stores and drug stores, and 14 percent worked in the publishing, internet services, and motion picture industries.

    About 70 percent of photographic processing machine operators worked in retail establishments, primarily in general merchandise stores and drug stores Small numbers were employed in the printing industry and in portrait studios and commercial laboratories that process the work of professional photographers.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Supplemental — Clean and organize darkrooms, and maintain darkroom equipment.
    • Supplemental — Record test data from film that has been examined, and route film to film developers and film printers for further processing.
    • Core — Place identification on film as necessary.
    • Supplemental — Apply paint to retouch or enhance negatives or photographs, using airbrushes, pens, artists' brushes, cotton swabs, or gloved fingers.
    • Supplemental — Set automatic timers, lens openings, and printer carriages to specified focus and exposure times, and start exposure in order to duplicate originals, photographs, or negatives.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
     
    Featured Online Colleges
     
    For more online colleges, click here.
     
    Colleges Offering Curriculum

    6 Photographic Process Worker Jobs Found


    Posting Expires: October1, 2016 Salary: $34,700 Digital Imaging Technician General Description and Classification Standards The purpose of this job...
    City of Atlanta - Atlanta - posted 9 days ago
    Summary This position is with CompWest (see compwestinsurance.com), part of AF Group. Headquartered in California, CompWest Insurance Company is a ...
    CompWest - CA - Los Angeles - posted 26 days ago
    Summary United Heartland concentrates on mid- to- large-size accounts in health care, nursing homes, nonprofits, social services, manufacturing, tr...
    United Heartland - NC - Raleigh - posted 4 days ago
    Summary United Heartland concentrates on mid- to- large-size accounts in health care, nursing homes, nonprofits, social services, manufacturing, tr...
    United Heartland - NC - Charlotte - posted 24 days ago
    An environmental company is currently seeking an individual to work as an Industrial Services/ Environmental Field technician. This individual will...
    Aerotek - Saint Paul - posted 5 days ago
    Position Expires: 9/23/16 Salary Range: 38,300-47,900 General Description and Classification Standards Protects the occupants of any building or dw...
    City of Atlanta - Atlanta - posted 2 days ago

     
     
     
     
     
     

    JOB SEARCH