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What is Editorial Photography?

editorial photography

If you are familiar with editorial terms, high profile editors in the publishing world require stunning art to go with content published in every form of media accessible to the public. The "art" is also known as editorial photography. These are the photos that go along an article or a written piece to illustrate the point of the content to the audience.

To avoid confusion between editorial and Commercial photography, let's clear the purpose behind it: editorial photography is not made to sell something. They are done to illustrate the existence of a person or an event by using the best possible angles that can be achieved with the lenses of a camera. Editorial photography can be used for covers of a magazine or to go along with a written piece.

Style Perspective

editorial photography

Since editorial photo usually goes along written pieces for media outlets such as news, they are often considered a medium to illustrate a story as it happens. They hardly need behind-the-scenes production since these images are commonly used as they come. The strictest editors do not work with posed art, preferring to use pictures that transmit what the article is about as it happens.

While many photographers do their best to get to the scene of an event and get in the record as much of it as they can, sometimes they arrive in the aftermath of whatever happened. When something like this happens, they can choose to register what they see or to create an editorial portrait of the event asking those who are present to re-enact a specific action such as it happens with editorial fashion photography.

Legal Perspective of Editorial Photography

editorial photography

When we touch the topic of legal perspective for editorial photography, we are talking about how these images can be licensed and published. On legitimate grounds, editorial photographers can't really use editorial photos for advertising or commercial purposes. They often contain recognizable people or copyrights and trademarks that belong to someone else.

Most of these images are sold using an editorial license, especially if they are being used for stock purposes. This happens to avoid any conflict when it comes to the content of the image. Most corporations can't avoid their brands appearing in editorial photographs, so they put a limit on the revenue they generate with this legal figure.

Editorial photography often shows places and events as they are, but they are not a great source of income. Commercial photography is a better venue, but it needs a controlled environment to get the best results. And unless you are a big name in the industry, you don't get credit for these images. With editorial photographers get a whole lot of creative freedom as well as credit for their work and freedom to include it in their portfolio.

Where you can use Editorial Photos and where you can’t?

editorial photography

Editorial photography is often commissioned from websites and publishers to illustrate written content. They can be used on articles, books, magazines, brochures, and other types of content that is not aimed at commercial use. These images have the purpose of communicating the reader about the existence of something, and as such, they are evocative of the topic they are trying to illustrate.

These type of images are also the best tool used by the tourist industry to get people interested in visiting certain locations. It's up to the photographer to tell a good story with a single image that gathers the best traits of a solid photo: good lighting, structured composition, a good-looking atmosphere. A solid image can help the photographer build their reputation and make the transition to commercial photography.

The Editorial Photographer


Editorial photographers probably have the most challenging job in the industry since they need to capture the essence of a place or a moment in a single key image. There is no rule book to be a successful editorial photographer. Most of the time, they have to take a lot of pictures to get the one that holds the real value. The best they can do is to follow the brief of their assignments, and offer a great display of creativity when it comes to their use of the camera to keep getting work.

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