I get asked once and awhile for advice from people established in one career intent on switching to try and become a photo editor. This can really be a difficult move because you can’t go intern for seven to zero bucks an hour which, as I’ve written before (here), is the traditional method of landing a job in the photo department of a magazine.
First off any photographers or people who’ve worked closely with photographers will be in a good position to step into an entry to mid level job. I’ve had good luck in the past hiring photographers for their ability to spot good images. Sending them off with a list of holes we need filled from stock agencies always resulted in a good pull and less work on my end culling everything down. Also, as you can imagine photographers can be very buttoned up with the details of any shoot you give them to manage and really try to give the people they’re working with any advantage possible with budget, access or time with the subject. This always results in better photography. So, if you’re not a photographer looking to make the jump working with one in some capacity will give you good experience that easily translates to photo editing at a magazine.
The only other way I can think of to get some photo editing experience is to start your own magazine. It’s actually not as hard as it sounds and the experience of dealing with all the aspects of magazine making from the budget to the printing and distribution make you an excellent candidate for hiring. When I was working with photographers in Jackson Hole I saw 3 people start their own local magazines and then go on to land jobs as editors at national magazines. The photographers I worked with actually published a couple local magazines which gave me my first taste of the whole process. Anymore, I think you could do something entirely online at a fraction of the cost and still have something great to show potential employers. The key to this path of course is finding talented photographers to work with on a minuscule budget. You have to create something that has value for them as a promo or tears so they can use it to land jobs too in a mutually beneficial relationship otherwise there’s no way to create something worth showing off. I would also think it would be possible to do some great work with stock this way and certainly learning how to navigate the keywords and find the gems will give you great experience.
I’ve looked at quite a few resumes and from the prespective of someone who used to do the hiring the key is having experience working with photographers and sourcing stock photography. You can do both of these things without having to intern at a magazine.