covid-19: see advice in the Freelance.

Picture editing and research

Picture researchers' responsibilities can also include a wide range of tasks, from commissioning photographers to organising return of originals within deadlines. It is vital that these responsibilities are clearly spelled out when an editor or researcher is engaged.

* Uploaded 1818/0404/21212121: if you have a printout, check the current version at

Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included.
See notes on negotiating rates and *find a freelance

The suggested rates (Know a better rate? tell us!)
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
* See also: reported rates, to compare: Picture editing and research
Creative picture research: per day GBP 190.00
Basic picture research: per day GBP 160.00
Creative picture research: per hour GBP 28.00
Basic picture research: per hour GBP 23.00
Per day GBP 200.00
Per hour GBP 28.50
Magazines category: A-B: glossy and consumer mags
Basic picture research: per day GBP 180.00
Magazines category: C-D: trade and cheap specialist mags
Basic picture research: per day GBP 160.00
Basic picture research: per hour GBP 23.00
National newspapers category: Newspapers
Per day GBP 180.00
Public relations category: High budget
Per hour GBP 48.00
Public relations category: Low budget
Per hour GBP 35.00


  • Freelances should charge extra for experience of more than four years and familiarity with a range of picture sources; for photographic qualifications; for working in more than one language; for working under pressure (for example working for partworks or packagers where time is often very short); for researching images for advertising; and for any added responsibility carried.
  • Any freelance asked to do something unethical, such as lying to agencies about how the work is to be used, must avoid actually doing so and lodge details with the Freelance Office. Collective action is more effective than individual action and less likely to leave the freelance isolated and branded unprofessional.
  • If a client offers a vague brief, it can be useful to offer a consultation first.
  • If an interview turns out to be a consultation, the freelance is entitled to charge for it as such. A reasonable rate for consultancy - which would include a detailed, written report - would be about £220.
  • A single original image normally has an insurance value of £600 - and if the image is unrepeatable this may be £1000 or more. It is in freelance researchers' interest to check that the publishers or those commissioning the research take responsibility for insurance.
Find a freelance

Browse a selection of NUJ freelances with relevant skills through the Freelance Directory:

More advice and links...
* On negotiating for Picture editing and research
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.