Editorial Photography

What is Editorial Photography? Everything You Should Know

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Written By Nate Torres

Editorial photography involves capturing images that accompany written content or stand as standalone pieces with a creative or narrative concept.

It is a popular form of photography found in various print and online publications, such as magazines and newspapers.

The primary purpose of editorial photography is to complement the text and not advertise a specific product, unlike commercial photography.

Just like a well-written article can transport readers to a different world, editorial photography has the power to evoke emotions and tell stories through captivating images.

For example, I remember working on an editorial photoshoot for a travel magazine, where I had to capture the vibrant culture and natural beauty of a small coastal town.

By using a combination of wide-angle shots to showcase the breathtaking vistas and close-up portraits to capture the locals’ warmth and hospitality, the goal was to transport the viewers to that coastal paradise.

It was an incredible experience to merge storytelling with photography and bring the written content to life.

To understand the distinction between commercial and editorial photography, we can use an analogy.

If commercial photography is like a polished advertisement in a glossy magazine that screams “buy me,” then editorial photography is akin to a thought-provoking article that allows you to dive deeper into a subject.

What is Editorial Photography?

Editorial photography is a unique form of visual storytelling that involves capturing images to accompany written content or stand as standalone pieces with a creative or narrative concept.

This genre encompasses various styles and approaches, including fashion, food, and photojournalism.

editorial photography example
editorial photography example

Similar to an author crafting a compelling story through words, an editorial photographer weaves together visuals to engage and captivate the audience.

To understand editorial photography better, let’s imagine it as a puzzle, where each image acts as a puzzle piece that contributes to the overall narrative.

Like the diverse shapes and colors of puzzle pieces, different genres within editorial photography offer a variety of styles, themes, and moods.

For example, a fashion editorial might focus on evoking emotion through striking images complemented by minimal text, while a food editorial might showcase the beauty and artistry of culinary creations.

Just as each puzzle piece is essential for completing the picture, every image in editorial photography plays a crucial role in conveying a story or concept.

You can most likely experience the power of editorial photography when you look at travel magazines.

The images in travel magazines often consist of images of various iconic landmarks around the world, highlighting their cultural significance.

Each image usually reflects the essence of the location and contributes to the overall narrative of the article.

Through careful composition and thoughtful selection of locations, editorial photographers aim to transport their viewers to these places and immerse them in the rich history and beauty of each destination.

This project taught me the importance of research, preparation, and the ability to communicate a story through visuals effectively.

Why is Editorial Photography Important?

Editorial photography holds immense significance in the world of visual storytelling.

It serves as a means to capture and convey a story, evoke specific emotions, and complement written content in newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

The incorporation of striking and visually captivating images enhances the reader’s engagement and understanding of the subject matter.

Editorial photography provides creative freedom and an avenue to share stories with the world.

It blends both art and journalism, allowing photographers to document significant events and issues or explore various genres such as food, fashion, or portraiture.

For instance, when capturing images for a food editorial, the photographer has the power to enhance the deliciousness and appeal of a dish through careful styling, lighting, and composition.

By doing so, they can entice the reader to embark on a culinary journey through the pages of a magazine or engage with online content.

Characteristics Of Editorial Photography

Editorial photography is a distinct genre that encompasses a range of styles and approaches.

1. Complement to Written Content

One key characteristic is its purpose to complement written content or stand alone as visually engaging pieces with a creative or narrative concept.

For example, I recently worked with a buddy of mine who is an editorial photographer on an editorial photoshoot for a magazine article about sustainable fashion.

We captured images that were intended to evoke the environmental message conveyed in the written content, showcasing eco-friendly clothing brands and sustainable practices.

2. Creative Freedom

Another important characteristic of editorial photography is the creative freedom it offers.

Unlike commercial photography, which focuses on selling products or brands, editorial photography allows photographers to tell a story and present a distinct perspective.

editorial photography food example
editorial photography food example

Key Elements In Editorial Photography

Key elements in editorial photography encompass a range of factors that contribute to the successful execution of captivating and impactful images.

From thorough preparation and effective communication to creative editing and adherence to licensing requirements, each element plays a vital role in creating compelling editorial photographs.

1. Convey a Distinct Perspective

One crucial element in editorial photography is the ability to convey a distinct perspective and tell a compelling story through images.

This requires a strong creative vision and the skill to capture the essence of a subject or concept.

For example, let’s say you’re shooting a editorial shoot for a food magazine. You’ll want to highlight the vibrant colors and textures of various fruits and vegetables.

By experimenting with different angles and lighting techniques, you’ll be able to create visually unique images that not only showcase the food but also evoke a sense of freshness and vitality.

2. Timely Delivery

Another key element is timely delivery and effective problem-solving during photoshoots.

Editorial photography often comes with tight deadlines and unexpected challenges that require quick thinking and adaptability.

It is during these moments that the photographer’s experience and ability to handle unexpected issues, such as unfavorable weather conditions or equipment malfunctions, can make a significant difference in the success of the project.

It is like being a captain guiding a ship through rough waters, making decisions on the spot to steer the photo shoot in the right direction and ensure the desired outcome.

In short, key elements in editorial photography include the ability to tell a compelling story, adaptability and problem-solving skills during photoshoots, and the timely delivery of high-quality images.

These elements, along with others such as careful preparation and adherence to licensing requirements, contribute to the overall success of editorial photography.

By understanding and implementing these key elements, photographers can create stunning and impactful images that leave a lasting impression on viewers and effectively complement written content or standalone as standalone pieces.

Types Of Editorial Photography

Types of editorial photography encompass various genres, each with its own unique style and approach.

These genres include fashion, food, and photojournalism.

1. Fashion Editorial Photography

Fashion editorials showcase style and emotion through striking images, often accompanied by minimal text.

They aim to evoke a specific mood or tell a visual story.

fashion editorial photography
fashion editorial photography

2. Food Editorial Photography

Food editorials, on the other hand, center around the art of culinary creations.

These photographs are meant to make you salivate and inspire you to try new dishes.

They often rely on natural lighting and close-up shots to capture the texture, colors, and flavors of the food.

Just like a well-plated dish, every element in a food editorial should be carefully considered and arranged to create a visually enticing composition.

To illustrate, imagine a food editorial as a beautifully composed symphony, where each ingredient plays a different instrument, harmoniously blending together to create a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.

food editorial photography
food editorial photography

3. Photojournalism

Finally, photojournalism editorials focus on capturing real-life events and telling important stories.

These images can evoke strong emotions and highlight social issues, giving a voice to the voiceless.

They are typically taken on the spot, capturing raw and authentic moments.

Photojournalism editorials require a keen eye for detail and composition, as well as the ability to capture the essence and atmosphere of a particular event or situation.


An analogy for photojournalism editorials could be a documentary film, where the photographer acts as the director, capturing candid moments and weaving them together into a compelling visual narrative.

The world of editorial photography is diverse and vibrant, encompassing various genres such as fashion, food, and photojournalism.

Each genre presents its own unique challenges and opportunities, allowing photographers to express their creativity and storytelling abilities.

Whether it’s capturing the elegance and glamour of a fashion editorial, the mouthwatering appeal of a food editorial, or the raw emotions and social commentary of a photojournalism editorial, the power of images in the editorial world is undeniable.

Tips For Shooting Editorial Photography

Shooting editorial photography requires skill, creativity, and careful planning.

To capture compelling images that tell a story, here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

1. Understand the Brief

Before embarking on any editorial shoot, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the creative brief provided by the client or the publication.

This will help you align your vision with theirs and ensure that the final images meet their expectations.

For example, when I was assigned a fashion editorial project for a magazine, I closely studied the brief to comprehend the desired style, tone, and concept.

This allowed me to tailor my approach and produce images that were in line with the vision of the publication.

2. Collaborate with a Team

As an editorial photographer, you often work in collaboration with a team of professionals like makeup artists, stylists, and hair stylists.

Clear communication and effective collaboration are key to achieving the desired results.

Think of the team as an orchestra, with each member playing a vital role in creating a harmonious and visually captivating ensemble.

For instance, during a recent photo shoot for a food editorial, I worked closely with a food stylist to ensure that the dishes were presented in an enticing and visually appealing manner.

The collaboration allowed us to elevate the overall quality of the images and portray the desired narrative.

3. Follow Common Photography Practices

The third tip is to follow common photography practices which applies for any genre of photography.

Make sure you know your exposure triangle (exposure, aperture, shutter speed) and the basics of composition such as rule of thirds and leading lines and you will be good to go!

By following these tips, you can enhance your approach to editorial photography and effectively communicate their desired vision.

Remember, practice and persistence are essential to mastering this craft and creating stunning images that captivate viewers and convey powerful stories.

How To Become An Editorial Photographer

Becoming an editorial photographer requires a combination of talent, dedication, and a strong understanding of the industry.

To embark on this exciting career path, it is important to develop your technical skills, artistic vision, and ability to tell compelling stories through imagery.

1. Build a Portfolio

One way to begin is by building a diverse portfolio that showcases your unique style and abilities.

This can be achieved through personal projects, collaborations, and assisting experienced photographers.

2. Practice

Just like budding chefs honing their skills in the kitchen, aspiring editorial photographers need practice to refine their craft.

This can involve experimenting with different genres and subjects to discover your passion and develop your own signature style.

For example, let’s say you wanted to start getting into food photography. You would attend workshops and collaborate with local chefs to create mouthwatering images that captured the essence of their culinary creations.

By immersing yourself in the world of food photography, you would not only learn technical skills but also gain valuable experience in working with a team and meeting the specific needs of clients in the editorial industry.

3. Start Seeking Opportunities

Once you have a well-rounded portfolio, it’s time to start seeking opportunities to showcase your work and gain exposure.

Freelancing for publications, collaborating with stylists and make-up artists, and attending industry events can help you network and connect with potential clients.

Additionally, building an online presence through a professional website and social media platforms can attract the attention of editors and creative directors looking for fresh, talented photographers.

Becoming an editorial photographer is a journey that requires persistence, continuous learning, and a willingness to adapt to the ever-evolving demands of the industry.

With dedication and a strong creative vision, you can carve out a successful career capturing captivating images that bring stories to life in newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

Conclusion And Final Thoughts

In conclusion, editorial photography is a dynamic and diverse field that offers photographers a unique opportunity to tell compelling stories and express their creative vision.

Whether it’s capturing fashion, food, or photojournalistic content, every editorial photoshoot requires thorough preparation, adaptability, and effective problem-solving skills.

It is crucial for photographers to meet the client’s needs and follow the creative brief, delivering high-quality work that evokes emotions and leaves a lasting impact.

In order to thrive in the competitive world of editorial photography, persistence, patience, and creativity are essential qualities.

Building a strong online portfolio, collaborating with a professional team, and understanding the legal and licensing requirements are crucial steps towards success.

By continuously honing their skills, embracing challenges, and delivering captivating visuals, editorial photographers can carve a niche for themselves and leave a lasting impact in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is editorial photography vs commercial photography?

Editorial photography focuses on capturing images that tell a story and are used in publications, while commercial photography is aimed at promoting products or services for advertising purposes.

What is editorial vs high fashion photography?

Editorial photography encompasses a broad range of storytelling images featured in publications, while high fashion photography specifically focuses on capturing the latest trends and designs in the fashion industry.