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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, Audio-Video Technology and Communications cluster Printing Technology pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Creates prints according to customer specifications and laboratory protocols.
  • Examines developed prints for defects, such as broken lines, spots, or blurs.
  • Fills tanks of processing machines with solutions such as developer, dyes, stop-baths, fixers, bleaches, or washes.
  • Immerses film, negatives, paper, or prints in developing solutions, fixing solutions, and water to complete photographic development processes.
  • Inserts processed negatives and prints into envelopes for delivery to customers.
  • Loads circuit boards, racks or rolls of film, negatives, or printing paper into processing or printing machines.
  • Loads digital images onto computers directly from cameras or from storage devices, such as flash memory cards or universal serial bus (USB) devices.
  • Maintains records, such as quantities or types of processing completed, materials used, or customer charges.
  • Measures and mixes chemicals to prepare solutions for processing, according to formulas.
  • Monitors equipment operation to detect malfunctions.

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

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 Imaging Technician -- Works in collaboration with a cinematographer on work flow, systemization, signal integrity and image manipulation to achieve the highest image quality and creative goals of cinematography in the digital realm.
  • Darkroom Technician --
  • Photographic Reproduction Technician --