Photographic Assistant

Occupational overview

The Photographic Assistant role involves carrying out skilled work in the photographic industry utilising common photographic knowledge and skills. The knowledge and skills can equally be applied to whatever means and methods are used in the workplace to generate, print or publish a photographic image. Whilst the majority of photographic imagery is produced digitally, the use of photographic film and silver based prints are still used in specialist businesses.  On completion of this apprenticeship, apprentices may move into further and higher education, or secure employment in the respective sector of the photographic industry. This is a core and options apprenticeship with two optional occupational /role areas:

Option 1: An Assistant Photographer generates the original imagery and is employed across a wide range of areas, for example: social, commercial, government, scientific departments and specialist applications. They can work in indoor studios as well as outside locations using digital or film cameras; producing stills or video imagery for a wide range of uses.    

Option 2: A Photographic Technician will typically work in a commercial photo finishing business, high street minilab or in-house processing centre. Their work involves producing prints from customer supplied digital imagery. Some staff working in specialist areas will be responsible for processing and printing imagery from photographic films using non-digital equipment. 

Core Skills

Legal & Regulatory requirements

  • Comply with relevant legislation and guidance including health, safety, COSHH, PPE and environmental issues in own workplace.
  • Comply with legal and copyright issues according to the task specification.
  • Obtain necessary permissions for use of images and confirm all agreements in writing.
  • Ensure that all licenses to use own work are issued in writing.

Industry Awareness

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different sub sectors of the photo imaging industry, and the job opportunities they present.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of technological and professional developments in photo imaging and their impact on industry practice.
  • Build and maintain positive relationships with clients/customers

Maintain the Imaging Systems

  • Start up and close down imaging hardware following proper procedures.
  • Follow workplace security procedures to check the system security, virus protection and file security
  • Recognise any problems in the imaging system and resolve them where you can.
  • Carry out housekeeping activities.

Control the Digital Workflow

  • Ensure that the digital imaging software is set up for efficient performance.
  • Ensure procedures are in place to maintain a history of all image files.
  • Ensure that system security and access procedures have been set up correctly.
  • Ensure that maintenance and servicing procedures have been set up correctly.
  • Ensure that all paperwork is completed accurately and in full and that copies are kept and accurate records maintained.

Image Manipulation

  • Determine the approach to be adopted in retouching the image(s) in agreement with the client.
  • Produce retouched images that clearly and accurately, meet the client’s requirements.
  • Check the quality of the retouched images against client requirements and workplace standards.
  • Save the retouched image files in the correct format ready for outputting or storage.

Add Metadata to Digital Images

  • Embed copyright and other metadata in images in standard image file formats.
  • Embed key metadata information in own image files to avoid orphan work status.
  • Assign keywords to classify images including by content, topic and concept.
  • Ensure key metadata is preserved throughout the workflow to storage.

Core Knowledge

  • Own responsibilities towards health, safety, environmental hazards and how to recognise and action correct practices applied in their workplace.
  • Current legislation relevant to the photo imaging industry such as: copyright and intellectual property, data protection, privacy and freedom of expression, defamation, model release, equality and discrimination, obscenity, official Secrets Act, trespass (photography only), property release, photography of children, rights and permissions, contracts, professional indemnity and public liability.
  • The range of functions roles and skills within photo imaging.
  • The key organisations and professional bodies related to photo-imaging.
  • Relevant sources of information to help you keep your knowledge and skills relevant to your work up-to-date.
  • How and when to work independently and interact effectively within a team.           
  • How to handle enquiries, questions, comments and complaints from clients.
  • The importance of maintenance activities.
  • The importance of good housekeeping activities.
  • How to make sure your imaging system is secure, virus and password protected.
  • Colour management – hardware calibration and profiles.
  • The principles of additive and subtractive colour theory.
  • Own organisation’s procedures relating to sending and receiving material.
  • How to set up and operate digital imaging equipment and software.
  • The key functions of the digital workflow.
  • How your organisation ensures computer security relating to viruses and password control.
  • The basic concepts and techniques of audio and video editing, and how to operate industry standard editing systems.
  • How to construct video sequences and edit points to tell a story with pictures.
  • What licences may be required with regard to copyright and use of music.
  • How to output the task in a format to meet the customer brief.
  • The range of available industry standard software relevant to image retouching and how to use it.
  • Colour management – the reasons for and use of colour profiles and the calibration of monitors.
  • How to convert and manage file formats.
  • File compression methods and the significance of “lossy” or “lossless” compression.
  • The operation of enlarging equipment and darkroom procedures.
  • The characteristics of light sensitive material, e.g. film and photographic paper – colour and monochrome.
  • The principles of monochrome and colour printing and how to control colour castes.
  • Types of cropping techniques and the principles of localised exposure control.
  • Common hand-printing faults and how they can be corrected.
  • The importance of metadata in allowing for the search and proper identifications of stored images
  • The importance of effective descriptive metadata and keywording.
  • How to enter key metadata to store specific information


·         Strong work ethic – motivated, proactive, committed, reflecting on own practice

·         Dependability and responsibility – punctual and reliable

·         Positive attitude – constructive thinking, motivated to succeed

·         Adaptability and responsiveness to change

·         Honesty and integrity – truthful, sincere

·         Self-motivation – self-starter, proactive approach to tasks and managing own development

Entry requirements

Employers will typically set their own entry requirements. Apprentices without English and Mathematics at level 2 must achieve level 2 prior to taking their End Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3, and British Sign Language qualifications are an alternative to English qualifications for those whom this is their primary language.  


18 months.

Professional qualification

This is a level 3 apprenticeship.

Originally published on, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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