Definition: Editorial Photography

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

I decided to begin with definitions of Editorial Photography, to gain a sense of how it socially understood.

Editorial photography refers to the pictures in a magazine that aren’t ads. The photographs that go along with the articles – even the cover of the magazine. Some photographers shoot only editorial type work, others shoot both editorial and commercial.

Commercial photography is essentially advertising photography – or photography for brochures, annual reports, things like that.

Editorial photography does not pay nearly as well as commercial, but with editorial, you usually get much more creative freedom, and you get a credit line. You do it to add to your portfolio – then show the portfolio to get commercial work.

Let’s say you want to be a fashion photographer. Would you like to shoot a layout of photographs for Vogue? Even if you only got paid a few hundred bucks? Of course you would. Then you show those pictures to potential commercial clients – they are impressed – and you make real money shootiing for them.

It’s far easier to get your foot in the door of lucrative commercial accounts if you have editorial tearsheets. Shooting editorial work might not pay the bills, but it will be a very good investment in your future.

Finally editorial/photo illustration in the most basic definition of the term it refers to photography commissioned for magazines, books to illustrate the written word. This is not the definition of editorial style however. Editorial style refers to artwork that tells a story or communicates a concept or idea. A very strong editorial image will evoke a feeling in the viewer and should be able to stand alone, without explanation. Atmosphere, lighting, composition…the elements and principles of design play an important role in weaving a visual tale. Editorial photography often allows for a vastly larger opportunity for creative freedom.


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