This is the website for the Picture Research by Distance Learning course


Costs and Benefits


The course costs £295 for UK residents and £330 for non-UK students, which is to account for the increased postage.

For that you receive: a course manual, in a series of modules, which you receive as you go along, one or two free reference books from the Publishing Factory which list picture libraries, 5 Assignments, and a certificate at the end of the course.

Bonuses: during the course you will be given free access to Julian Jackson's Webinars, and also a free download of The Photobuyer's Handbook (worth £24.99).

The five assignments are closely modelled on actual assignments Julian worked on during his 32 years in the media. They are as near as you are likely to ever get to a real live assignment. Julian says, "I am really proud of this course - it encapsulates all I have learned and does as much to prepare you for working as a picture researcher as is possible. There's a lack of proper training for picture researchers and I believe this is the best course available anywhere in the world."

It takes around 1 year of part-time work to complete the course successfully. The fastest has been about 9 months but other students have taken longer. The advantage of this course is that you take it at your own pace. Students have changed jobs, moved house, even changed countries, as well as had children, and still completed the course.


The course costs £295 for UK students and £330 for Non-UK students, to cover the cost of increased postage to other countries.

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Course Accreditation

The Picture Research by Distance Learning course is not accredited yet by an authorising body. New Creative Skillset criteria for short vocational courses are being devised and when they are ready this course will be applied for the Skillset Tick. Creative Skillset is the UK body for media vocational training and it is the most appropriate organisation to ratify the course.

The course has been recognised by the Picture Research Association and we expect it to be recognised shortly by other major organisations within the archive and stock photography industry.

The Picture Research by Distance Learning course has been going on for over 10 years, and many graduate students have found jobs within the industry as a result of it. It used to be delivered by the prestigious Publishing Training Centre but now Julian Jackson - who devised the course and has tutored it for all of its ten years, has taken over completely the running of it.

Skills a Picture Researcher/Photobuyer needs

An eye for the visual, good computer skills, highly organised - particularly if you are juggling several projects and deadlines. Able to cope with stress. Excellent communication and people skills are often necessary to ensure that the images are top notch. Julian says, "I've met brilliant designers who couldn't articulate what they wanted at all - they could only communicate in the visual so you had to show them all sorts of pictures and see what sparked their interest. I have also worked with editors who were totally text-oriented, so they would get some crappy photos and you had to gently tell them that you would find much better images without hurting their egos. You also have to deal with oddball archives, eccentric photographers, collectors, and artists, and all sorts of unusual people who have images that you need to gain access to. I've been to sinister occult archives, which gave me the willies, and went on mammoth benders with a reclusive jazz photography collector. All in a day's work, really."


Picture Research/Photobuying is an enormously fun job to do. You get to find photographs for use in books, magazines, newspapers, advertisments, product packages, websites, television programmes, videos, and films and many other end uses. There used to be lots of "staff researchers" who worked for publishers, who would find the images for that particular organisation. They would be "in-house" and work from the publisher's offices, with holidays and all the normal benefits of a staff job. Unfortunately these positions are on the decline - though not nonexistent.

Nowadays, most researchers are freelance. Though some still work from offices as "in-house freelances", for example working shifts at a newspaper or broadcaster, most are totally freelance and service a variety of clients from either their homes or an office they rent. This can be a precarious existence, but it also can be a form of work which can suit someone with childcare needs - as long as you get the pictures in by the deadline, no employer will care that you spent the afternoon at the zoo with your children, and did the work at night after they were in bed. Flexible hours are one of the advantages of the job, though this also goes with driven deadlines and sometimes having to work long hours to get a project done.

The digital revolution has facilitated the work of a freelance. Previously, you needed to be based near to London (or New York, or Frankfurt, or a few other publishing hubs) to get assignments, go to photo libraries, and to meet the right people. That no longer applies and freelances with a computer can work anywhere in the world. Pictures can be downloaded, and sent to the client via the internet. Picture meetings can be done by Skype.

There are more outlets for images than before and many organisations are in need of trained, skilled picture researchers to find the material they need. It is actually far more cost-effective to have a specialist do this, than have a highly paid art director fumble around various websites and not find the best images. In some cases, the saving made on licence fees to use images by skilled negotiation may actually be more than the researchers' fees!

It is tough to break in, but there are researchers who are so busy they have to turn down work.


Picture researchers/editors are usually credited in books, magazines (on the "Masthead") and in the credits listing for TV programmes and CDs. They also get free copies of the projects they work on. Julian says, "Did I tell people what I was doing? Well, sometimes, but mostly I used to carry around a book I'd worked on - with author dedication - or leave magazines on my coffee table, so people would see them. I'm extremely proud of what I helped create."


Testimonials from Successful Students:

I searched online and found Julian Jackson's course. It was ideal for me and I found it very interesting and challenging. Each assignment was very different and covered each aspect of the industry. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to do a course on this subject.

I finished the course with a distinction which I was very happy with.

Andrew J. Bishop


I found the course to be enjoyable as well as informative. The way it's written also gives you a feel of the reality of being a picture researcher. You are aware that the author has 'lived through' the experiences, situations and issues mentioned. The course is presented in a clear user friendly way with a logical sequence to the topics covered.

Sally Newton


The course costs £295 for UK Students and £330 for Non-UK students, to cover the cost of increased postage to other countries.

There is no comparable course anywhere in the world.

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This course has been approved by the Picture Research Association.

Picture Research Association


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Contact: Julian Jackson Tel: 020 7635 9720 Intl: +44 20 7635 9720

© Julian Jackson 2013, all rights reserved, the moral right of the author is asserted.