10 minutes with a Photo Editor: Ernie Monteiro

Interviews with Photo Editors November 13, 2012 7:14 am

What started your interest in photography and what led you to photo editing?

Well, I kinda fell into it. I dropped out of college and moved to New York, I was working a series of crappy food service jobs. A friend from high school was working at the Saba Agency in the library, refiling slides. I was working at a burrito joint working the takeout counter. I was miserable. When my pal decided to leave his job at Saba to be a waiter and I asked if he could get me in. He marched me into Marcel Saba’s office and said “I’m leaving, but my friend can work here.” Marcel, surprisingly, said okay. I started refiling 35mm slides, then moved onto cataloguing, then editing, then helping out with production. I loved my job, loved looking at photos. I learned a lot working there with really great, talented people. When People magazine went published a photo of Audrey Hepburn that I researched, I was thrilled! My first job in publishing was with Marianne Butler at Worth. When she left for Men’s Health, she took me with her. She really taught me a lot, she had a great eye and was a very exacting boss. Her photo pet peeves are now my pet peeves. I shudder at the word “shooter” and cropped out feet makes me crazy.

What are some of the best, and hardest aspects of your job?

Seeing a great photo is the best part of the job. I love being surprised, I love seeing a story/ portrait turn out different and better than I imagined. The hardest part is when the photo is just okay. All I can hear is that Debbie Downer sound when a shoot is less than expected. So basically its always Christmas.


The main wall of Ernie’s office. About the wall, Ernie says “It’s a mix of photo/images/people i like, my family and 2 percent cute boys.”


I’m sure you get tons of printed promos, emails and phone calls; what is the best way for a photographer to reach out to you and what are some common mistakes that are made?

I don’t get as many printed promos pieces anymore. When I do receive one that catches my eye, I’ll always check the photographer’s website. I do get lots of e-promos and generally just scan the embedded image and make a choice whether to click to the website. I’m more likely to check out the websites of photographer’s outside of big cities.

I do see a lot of great young photographers whose images are not appropriate for the work I produce – that can be hard! I will sometimes send an email to let them know how much I admire their work.

Promo mistakes… sigh… Always include your location! Photo editors need to know where you are located.
If you are a regional photographer your promo should show a wider variety of images, i.e. portraits, reportage…

I tend to pass over promo pieces with one image of: landscapes, puppies, children, flowers, a celebrity holding a puppy or a flower…

When you get a shoot in, what is your editing process? Do you go by your gut reaction to an image or is your edit based on the text or what your editor has asked for?

When a shoot comes in I just go through and make a selects of photos that I like, and then try to strong arm the designers into using the photo that I like best!

We work very closely with our editors on the art direction so when the shoot happens all the edit notes have been incorporated into the shoot direction.


Photograph by Meredith Jenks

Ernie Monteiro started working in photo in the waning days of the age of chrome. She has worked at Worth, Men’s Health and is currently at Time Inc. Content Solutions, the custom publishing arm of Time Inc.

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