This apprenticeship has been retired

This apprenticeship has been retired. Employers who wish to start new apprentices should consider using the ST1388 Photographer standard.

Overview of the role

Carrying out skilled work in the photographic industry utilising common photographic knowledge and skills.

Photographic assistant

Reference Number: ST0506

Details of standard

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 & knowledge photographic assistant: assistant photographer & photographic technician

Core Skills (all options):

An Assistant Photographer and Photographic Technician will be able to:

Core Knowledge (all options):

An Assistant Photographer and Photographic Technician will know and understand:

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.
  • 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.



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


  • 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.                      

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.

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.


  • 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.


Option 1 Skills:

An Assistant Photographer will be able to:

Option 1 Knowledge:

An Assistant Photographer will know and understand:

Agree the Photographic Brief

  • Agree with the client the purpose of the work, the deadline and the budget
  • Agree with the client the amount of flexibility in meeting the brief.
  • Recognise any Health and Safety issues likely to arise from the brief.
  • Use the information gathered to evaluate and decide on the preferred approach to the task.
  • Ensure that the terms and conditions of any contract are mutually agreeable to own business or organisation and the client.
  • Own business or organisation’s strategy and objectives.
  • How to evaluate and present the possible approaches in line with the following requirements:
  • The clients’ needs and expectations;
  • How much can be achieved within the budget;
  • Aesthetic issues, including your own personal style;
  • Technical feasibility;
  • The time and resources required;
  • Legal and ethical implications.

Undertake Photographic Tasks


  • Identify the main characteristics of the task and decide what needs to be emphasised in the images.
  • Ensure model release or booking forms are correctly completed.
  • Select equipment and materials suitable for the task considering:
  • The end purpose of the imagery;
  • Locations and prevailing light conditions.
  • Assemble / dismantle equipment and position safely.
  • Determine the camera settings and lighting arrangements to meet the task and adjust if required.
  • Take images that achieve the viewpoint, composition and point of focus.
  • Ensure that digital images files are backed-up during the assignment.
  • Record, clearly and accurately, any information required on the assignment.
  • How to safely handle, assemble, set up, operate and store photographic equipment in different environments and situations.
  • The causes of common faults in photographic equipment and user-permissible maintenance, fault-finding and minor repairs.
  • The principles of light, lenses and exposure and composition.
  • How to use available light including combinations of daylight, free-standing lights and camera mounted flash.



Option 2 Skills:

A Photographic Technician will be able to:

Option 2 Knowledge:

A Photographic Technician will know and understand:

Start up and Shut  down Laboratory Equipment

  • Check the condition of the equipment before start up and close down.
  • Resolve problems within your own limits.
  • Process control strips and assess the results to control quality.
  • Maintain chemicals /inks for the type of equipment used.
  • If appropriate, dispose of used chemicals in accordance with workplace and legal requirements.


  • How to safely set up, calibrate and maintain the equipment.
  • How to safely load processing chemicals or printing inks.
  • The principles and practice of process control (sensitometry, densitometry and other image evaluation tools).
  • Own business or organisation’s targets for waste reduction.

Use Minilab Equipment to

Print Images

  • Calibrate and operate the minilab equipment to print the media, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Assess the processed imagery against client requirements and organisational standards.
  • Detect any defects, identify the causes and work within own limits to rectify these.
  • Forward the original material and prints for delivery or collection.
  • Record, clearly and accurately, all necessary data to meet own business or organisation’s requirements.
  • The characteristics of sensitive media, such as digital, film and paper.
  • How to calibrate, control, set up and operate minilab equipment.
  • How to load printing paper into the minilab and resolve any difficulties.
  • The different types and size of digital media and film formats, with appropriate cropping techniques relative to output, size and the format required.
  • The causes of common faults in photography, minilab and machine processing and printing.

Behaviours expected to be displayed by all Photographic Assistants (all options)

·         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.  

Standard Review:

This Standard will be reviewed in 3 years or when significant change is required.   

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Status: Retired
Level: 3
Reference: ST0506
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 26/03/2024
Approved for delivery: 10 April 2019
Route: Creative and design
Typical duration to gateway : 18 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £7000
Options: Assistant Photographer, Photographic Technician
LARS Code: 438
EQA Provider: Ofqual
Employers involved in creating the standard: MoD, Creative Pioneers. London, AWE, Carole Sartain freelance photography consultant, Knowle West Media Centre, CEWE Photoworld, Ministry of Defence, Germaine Walker, Ian Tums, Canterbury College, Hasselblad, Rolls-Royce, Rainer Usselman, Blend Studios, SLN Photography, AIM Awards, Sellafield, JD Sports, Warwickshire College, Fotoforce

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Retired 10/04/2019 26/03/2024 Not set

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