How do photo editors make money?

The photo editors I’ve had contact with at The Washington Post have given me the following list.

To figure out the answer I talked to the Post’s senior photo editor, Jason Reed. Reed works on the Photo Desk. Like other Post photographers, he doesn’t charge for his photos, but rather pays his subjects for them. At the Post, it costs $150 a week to cover an event and it costs about $15 an hour to cover events around the world. Each photo editor has a daily fee, which he shares with his photographer. Reed says he sees between $50,000 and $70,000 in annual revenue from photo editing.

I asked Reed what he expects of the Post’s photo editors with the next photo campaign. He gave this example:

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“What we do in the photos is determine the most common issues facing New York City.”

He went on to explain that “a small number of images get seen by millions of people,” as evidenced by the “huge numbers” of people who have seen the photo of the Times Square bomber.

A photo editor with the New York Post has more creative possibilities than I do. She can edit a photo for one story, and then take another shot in a different part of the city.

And that’s not all—in the Post’s newsroom, photo editors have full-time jobs and do not take photographs. A few years ago, the photo editors at the Wall Street Journal had to get out of their job so they could attend training in a “photo-journalism” program.

In 2010, the Post posted on its blog a list of New York’s top photo editors. The list was compiled by the Post’s “Photographers” blog. While it was not exactly scientific, it was interesting to see that a lot of its photographers got on the list.

One of the “photographers” listed on the Post’s list was David Katzmaier. In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize winner, he has had a successful career as a photographer, managing and producing a variety of images. He is now the editorial photo editor of the Washington Post.

Katzmaier was a top choice for the Post’s photo editors, but not so much for those people on my list. Katzmaier’s photography has a different meaning—it is for commercial use. He was the one who sent me this photo of a man who bought a $1,600 home and who had two kids: