The Freelance Creative

How to Be an Editor, According to Stock Photography

The great Jillian Richardson, who interned for Contently over the summer, is well on her way to earning a Pulitzer Prize for her groundbreaking work in an emerging field: stock photography journalism. With a hat tip to Jillian, I decided to stand on the shoulders of a giant–seriously, she’s pretty tall–and offer my perspective as an editor.

Rule #1: Work in denial

Always clutch magazines. Always. Pretend people have stopped declaring print dead. Smile vacantly as much as possible. Stroke keyboards to reinforce how much editorial romanticism means to you. If that’s not enough, buy outdated sweaters actresses used to wear in old romantic comedies and convince yourself you can be just like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle.

Rule #2: Multitask

Pretend you’re hard at work slashing entire paragraphs. Remember to use a tablet and digitizer when editing to wow coworkers in other departments who expect you to use pens and keyboards. If you really want to show off, don’t even look at what you’re editing. Break the fourth wall, smile at a camera that might not exist, and keep your monitor open to stock photography sites so you can research future articles.

Rule #3: Embrace collaboration

Editing can get lonely at times. Make friends with fellow editors, preferably gruff yet lovable newsroom vets who like to wear fedoras and smoke pipes. When you’re stressed as a deadline approaches, call over these veterans and tell them to blow tobacco in your face so you can relax. Then, ask them if they think you’re missing deadlines because you only type with one finger.


Rule #4: Reluctantly go pro bono

When anyone asks for help with anything involving words, offer assistance, but make sure to shake your head and sigh. If parents want you to review their emails, hover over them at the computer and read silently. They’ll say, “It’s good, right?” Humor them as you change commas to semi-colons and fix subject-verb agreement errors. When siblings ask for help with school essays–even though, for example, you’re 24 and your younger brother is in college–begrudgingly copyedit. Rib them for not proofreading, give dirty looks, and swear you’ll never help again. But the next time you’re asked, be a good sibling and help anyway.

[This may or may not be based on true events.]

Rule #5: Ignore time

No matter how much you prepare in advance, things will go wrong, people will miss deadlines, and edits will be pushed back. That’s why you should always face clocks away from your line of sight. If you can’t see the time, then it doesn’t exist, right? Take a nap mid-edit, and when you wake up, just make up a time that will let you meet all deadlines and appease all bosses.

Images via Shutterstock

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