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Photographic Processing Machine Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Performs work involved in developing and processing photographic images from film or digital media. May perform precision tasks such as editing photographic negatives and prints.

This career is part of the Arts, A/V Technology and Communication cluster Visual and Design Arts pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Selects digital images for printing, specify number of images to be printed, and directs to printer, using computer software.
  • Creates prints according to customer specifications and laboratory protocols.
  • Produces color or black-and-white photographs, negatives, or slides, applying standard photographic reproduction techniques and procedures.
  • Sets or adjusts machine controls, according to specifications, type of operation, or material requirements.
  • Reviews computer-processed digital images for quality.
  • Operates scanners or related computer equipment to digitize negatives, photographic prints, or other images.
  • Fills tanks of processing machines with solutions such as developer, dyes, stop-baths, fixers, bleaches, or washes.
  • Measures and mixes chemicals to prepare solutions for processing, according to formulas.
  • Loads digital images onto computers directly from cameras or from storage devices, such as flash memory cards or universal serial bus (USB) devices.
  • Operates special equipment to perform tasks such as transferring film to videotape or producing photographic enlargements.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close

Work Hours and Travel

  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Digital Printer Operator --
  • Film Processor --
  • Film Technician --
  • Lab Technician --
  • Photo Lab Manager --
  • Photo Lab Specialist --
  • Photo Lab Technician (Photographic Laboratory Technician) --
  • Photo Printer --
  • Photo Specialist --
  • Photo Technician --