What Is Editorial Photography?

Photographs are effective only if they can successfully grab the viewers’ attention. The opportunity to get this attention and pitch the idea is never to be missed. Grabbing the viewers’ attention in a publication is the main purpose of an editorial photograph. On this page, we will take a trip into the world of what is editorial photography and also discuss its various elements to get a clear idea of how it works.

Definition of Editorial Photography:

Before diving into the details let us take a look at the textbook definition. It is the type of photography that basically works on portraying the idea more than anything. Mostly, publications such as newspapers, magazines, and journals use these photographs.

Difference between Editorial and Commercial Photography

The concept of editorial photographs is commonly confused with either commercial photographs or advertisements. However, these two are entirely different. Here are some of the major contradictions between editorial and commercial photography.


Firstly, the core difference is the goal. The objective of editorial photography is to tell a story and present a concept, while the purpose of commercial photography is to simply present a brand image, attract customers and increase sales.

Photographer’s role: - What Is Editorial Photography?

Secondly, editorial photography gives creative freedom to the photographers to work in their own style. However, a commercial photographer has to work on the instructions of the client to maintain a consistent brand image.
Editorial portrait of a man - What Is Editorial Photography?

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Ownership and Pay:

As the editorial photographs are initially the ownership of the photographer, the publication using them will request the copyrights for a certain period. This is basically one of the niches that pay comparatively less. 
In commercial photography the photographs are usually in the ownership of the client, thus it also pays more.

Working with the brief:

It is totally correct that the photographer has the creative freedom, however, he or she will not always get to choose the idea or the topic they are going to shoot for. Usually, the editors present a brief about the photo session’s goals and concept. Whether there are specific instructions given by the editor or not, the photographers always have creative freedom here. Working with an editorial brief might sound simple but if you want perfectly capture the editorial theme, then you must do some homework. For instance, if the job is to produce editorial photographs of a certain sport. Firstly, you should do complete research, learn the rules, etc. Putting it into simpler words, get an experience of that sport yourself.

Tips for Editorial Photography:

Get a clear concept:

Before jumping into the photoshoot consider studying the subject and doing the research in order to craft a few concepts to build a base of meaningful editorial photographs. Planning is basically everything.

Be realistic:

One factor that is even more important than visually pleasing photos is capturing the real ideas. This is essential because the main goal of editorial photography, as discussed above, is to document a strong message. You must keep it into account that pleasing visuals are not to be preferred over a realistic message.

Prepare according to the type of shoot:

The answer to what is Editorial Photography is that it is basically one of the most flexible photography types. You should do your research and find out what you need to perform a perfect session according to the requirements presented by the editor. Then do your preparation and homework. An essential element here would be to decide the equipment that suits the best.
Magazine on a table - What Is Editorial Photography?

Have patience: - What Is Editorial Photography?

Haste makes waste. If you are not getting what you decided in the initial plan, then do not get frustrated. There are hundreds of ways to do a single job. Think about alternative ideas and concepts. In short, be flexible.

Connect with the Subjects:

The only way to photograph the subjects in their original attitude is by making them comfortable. Work on connecting with the subjects and engaging in a conversation with them. This tip is also a key element in any portrait photography session.


Without a doubt, developing any skill is only possible with practice. Similarly, if your goal is to become an exceptional editorial photographer, then practice, practice, and practice.


This was basically a brief overview of the realm of what is editorial photography. Not to be confused with photojournalism, commercial photography or other photography types, it is a universe of its own. Publishers use editorial photographs to enhance the meaning of articles and convey an even stronger message that is not possible without these photos. If you want to practice your creativity in your own way, then editorial photography is for you.

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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