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NUJ Freelance Fees Guide
Picture editing and research
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The rôles of "picture researcher" and "picture editor" have become very fluid - except in newspapers. Generally, the picture editor is responsible for the photographic content of a publication (under the editor-in-chief and in liaison with the art director), while picture researchers find a selection of suitable images within a budget and on time (either working on-line or with hardcopy images or with both).

Picture researchers' responsibilities can also include any or all of the following:

Negotiations and contracts

Rates vary according to the sector. Newspaper day rates appear low compared to others, but most of that work is usually straightforward. By contrast, picture researchers working in book publishing may live with a picture list for a schedule stretching over several months, but be paid only in hours.

Follow the general advice for commissions and contracts and be very clear about who is doing what in order to establish the time and fee. Freelance researchers must be informed about everyone else who will be handling the images borrowed under their signature. The researcher needs to know who is responsible for work that affects theirs. If there is uncertainty about whose responsibility any part of the job is, it is likely to be the researcher's.

Most importantly, researchers must:

Researchers should check arrangements for expenses and keep their own records if the client has agreed to pay these. They must also check who is responsible for paying agencies and photographers - including fees for overdue returns.

Notes on negotiating rates for strtolower(Picture editing and research)

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for picture editing and research. And please send us your reports of successful negotiations.

‘All-in’ pricing

Clearly, if a client wants an all-in price for a job (particularly common in book publishing or public relations) there should be an agreement on charges applicable when it takes longer than estimates, especially if this is due to the client changing the specifications.

The suggested rates: strtolower(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.

Books -
Creative picture research: per dayGBP190.00
Basic picture research: per dayGBP160.00
Creative picture research: per hourGBP28.00
Basic picture research: per hourGBP23.00
Broadcasting -
Per dayGBP200.00
Per hourGBP28.50
Magazines - category: A-B: glossy and consumer mags
Basic picture research: per dayGBP180.00
Magazines - category: C-D: trade and cheap specialist mags
Basic picture research: per dayGBP160.00
Basic picture research: per hourGBP23.00
National newspapers - category: Newspapers
Per dayGBP180.00
Public relations - category: High budget
Per hourGBP48.00
Public relations - category: Low budget
Per hourGBP35.00

Notes: picture editing and research / all / all

  • 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.
This is updated to 2018-06-15 00:00:00; if you have a printout, check the current version at

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.