Photo Research

Photo, image, art, illustration and motion research for books, educational materials, magazines, websites, apps, marketing campaigns, etc.


Rights, copyright clearance, artist rights clearance, usage fee negotiations

Digital Asset Management

Research and permissions database image management, all platforms

But what does a Photo Researcher do… exactly?

Research photos… duh! But is that really all?

Sometimes we’re called Picture Researchers, Media Researchers, Visuals Researchers, or Nicole. Sometimes we research illustrations, artwork, video footage, or mixed media. And sometimes we don’t do any research at all.

Definition alert::: A Photo Researcher is a professional who is asked to locate and/or obtain permission to use relevant images for a piece of media.

Photo Researchers locate and license images for books, magazines, films, TV programs, advertisements, marketing materials, websites, apps, museum exhibits, your Aunt Jeanette’s family tree poster, etc. Any place you see images (and in this information age, where aren’t some images smacking you in the face?) – someone located them and made sure it was OK to share them.

Sometimes Photo Researchers locate appropriate images and another smarty professional obtains the permissions. Sometimes another creative professional locates images and a Photo Researcher obtains the permissions. But we are the professionals who can and will efficiently and successfully do both.

So, it goes something like this…

XYZ Publisher: We want to create a book to teach people about insects. We will need scientifically-accurate and beautiful-to-look-at photos to illustrate this book and impel lots of bug-crazy readers to buy our book. Also – we want to make sure the photographers of those photos want their photos to be published in our book. And, also – we really don’t want to pay a lot of money to publish them. Oh, one more thing – we need it done yesterday. Who can do all that?

Me: Me!

And I’m off and running…. I go to the photo agencies, photographers, and variety of other sources and search their collections for the images needed. Oh no, my go-to sources don’t have a photo of a Gelae donut (yes that’s real!)? Then I’m writing to independent wildlife photographers, entomologists, or hanging out in bug-enthusiast Flickr group discussion threads (not how I thought I was going to spend this afternoon).

Great – the publisher has made their photo selections from my suggestions and the information I’ve given about cost and permission-likeliness. Next I contact those copyright holders or their agents and with information about the intended book, I negotiate the terms of usage.

Next up – Gimme the photo file (please). I will check it per publisher’s specs and pass it on.

Then – to the publisher I deliver all the information about each image they need to properly use the image in the book. You would like me to enter that information into your database? Alrighty.

And finally – I kick butt the next time Jeopardy has a category about insects!

I’m OK at taking photos. I’m OK at reading comprehension. But that editorial-slash-aesthetics globule that resides directly in between my left and right brains – that’s where I found my dream job as a Photo Researcher.