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Editorial photography is a type of visual narrative creation that helps to tell a story alongside a text. Editorial photography is frequently used in newspapers, magazines, online and in non commercial textual content.
Fundamentally, the purpose and aim of editorial photography is to help to illustrate and graphically represent a story – unlike commercial photography which seeks to sell a service, product or concept.
Editorial photography is an extremely creative artform that is less objective than a news photojournalist or documentary maker. One of the central tenants of editorial photography is to help to support the article which they will be used in. This adds depth, context and visual information that improves the experience of the article’s readers.
Although traditionally editorial photography has been photography that goes to print in recent decades the boundaries have been somewhat blurred. Since the birth of the internet a great deal of editorial photography never makes it to print but still has a huge viewership online.
What Are The Most Common Kinds of Editorial Photography?
There’s many ways in which editorial photography can be used; these include, but are not limited to:
- Photography used in Newspaper and Magazine articles.
- Photography used in Newspaper editorials.
- Photography that is used alongside text – on or off line.
- Blog photography that helps to illustrate a non-commercial text.
- Photographs in Educational textbooks and materials.
- Photography for Non-commercial presentations.
- Street Photography.
- Fashion Photography (editorial or narrative uses).
- Travel Photography (for non-commercial purposes).
- Cultural Photography (for non-commercial purposes).
- Stock Photos (with correct licensing).
As you can appreciate, each different type of editorial photography requires a unique skill set, experience base and knowledge base. All of the different types do have one thing in common though – they are creating a narrative, telling a story or supporting a text.
Is the Editorial Photographer the Same as the Author of the Article or Text?
In some cases, you may be writing your own articles or text and taking the photos however usually, in a professional context they are different people. Most magazines, newspapers and successful online content will employ specialist photographers to take the editorial photos and a separate team to write the articles and text.
How Much Do Editorial Photographers Earn?
Editorial photography is in high demand and consequently if you master the required skills you can leverage a good salary. In the USA, the national average salary for an editorial photographer is around $35,000 however many of the more experienced and sought after photographers can easily make upwards of $50-60,000. At the very top end of the profession photographers can earn extremely high salaries although this takes time, hard work and a great back catalog of work!
What’s the Difference Between an Editorial Photographer and a Commercial Photographer?
Although both types of photography use images that have been through post production or altered to make a more engaging finished result; a commercial photographer is paid to help sell products and services. An editorial photographer on the hand is primarily trying to create images that tell stories or help to illustrate textual content without a commercial motivation.
Another distinction between editorial and commercial photography is based on the licensing of the photo. For example, if you had taken a photograph of people in a crowd at a festival, unless you were able to get everyone in the photo to sign a release form you would be unable to use the image for commercial purposes. You could, though, still use that photo for editorial purposes.
How To Be A Good Editorial Photographer – What You Need To Know To Succeed.
The world of editorial photography is as exciting as it is varied. There’s a whole host of potential career paths that you could pursue in the field but all of them require creativity, passion and real drive to succeed.
Use the Best Equipment that You Can.
When you’re shooting editorial photography you don’t need very high end gear but you do want a reliable and trustworthy set up. You’re going to find yourself working in many different situations so you want a flexible camera set up which includes a portable tripod, a solid lens and a tough camera bag.
Your best option if you’re just starting out is probably going to be a mid range DSLR. When selecting a lens for editorial photography you’ll be well served by a 75mm f/1.8 or possibly a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. However, depending on the type of work you’re doing you may want to use a telephoto lens for some projects.
Keep Your Gear Simple.
Portability and convenience are going to pay off big time when you’re working on editorial photography as you might have to walk long distances to get the right photo to illustrate a story. For example, if you were briefed with photographing a protest then you might have to be on your feet for hours at a time trying to capture the perfect shot for the newspaper editorial.
Your assignments are always going to be different so you want to have gear that is easy to carry around with you and effective in any type of environment. Make sure you have a waterproof camera bag so your equipment stays safe even if the weather turns bad.
Stick to the Brief.
It goes without saying, but when you’re tasked with capturing images to go with the text of an article you need to stay on topic. This is the very essence of editorial photography and although you do have a lot of scope to be creative you still need to remember that you’re effectively backing up the article not creating your own story!
Of course, if you see other great images while you’re out on assignment you can still snap the photos but just don’t submit them as part of that project and keep them for your own use later. The brief you are given will be fairly specific so you should have no doubt about what the author or magazine editor is looking for before you set out to get the photos.
Despite the fact that you must follow your brief to really make a name for yourself in the industry you’ll also need to know how creative you can be! Remember, that a picture tells a thousand words, and in many cases, it’s the picture that makes people browsing the internet click on the story and read on.
This means that you’ll have to learn how to balance interesting, creative and even unusual pictures with ones that help to illustrate the text you’ve been assigned to take editorial photos for. You’re trying to help tell a story and if you can put an interesting slant or new perspective on it then your editor will certainly keep you on their books for future assignments.
Organization is Key to Succeed.
As an editorial photographer you are going to have to be working on more than one assignment at a time, each with its own deadline and requirements. You have to learn how to manage your time well while juggling several assignments and then deliver the goods on time and above expectations. While working on different stories you need to be able to quickly adapt to a new situation and think quickly on your feet to overcome any problems that may arise.
Should You Edit Your Editorial Photos?
Editorial photography is not, strictly speaking, documentary in its nature although there are major crossovers between the two genres. While documentary photography aims to show the world exactly as it is, you, as an editorial photographer, are less constrained.
You should always spend the time to edit your photos before you submit them to ensure that they are well composed and to modify anything that you think will give them more impact in the context of the brief. If you can see a way to improve the photo in the editing suite then always do so! You can be very creative at this stage of the process to make sure that the photo looks as good and polished as it possibly can.
Editorial Photography is Exciting But You Need To Meet The Challenge To Stand Out.
As well as the basics there’s a few ways that you can help to make your editorial photography stand out from the competition – because there will always be stiff competition in the field.
When you set out to take photos for an editor you first want to have a deep think about the subject you’re working on, what the backstory is and how you can best represent this in a creative and novel way. Before you even take out your camera to start snapping pictures try to come up with a few concepts that you can work with. You can jot them down in a notebook so you don’t forget them while you’re in heat of the moment and taking the photos themselves.
Don’t be afraid of taking photographs that are gritty and really get to the root of the story. You want your images to look as good as possible but in some cases you’re going to have to portray some difficult topics which may require hard hitting images that might shock some of the audience.
You’ll often be working to strict deadlines and the pressure will be on. You need to be able to stay calm under pressure and still produce fantastic photos that will help to carry the text for the editor.
Editorial Photography Brings Stories, Articles and Non-Commercial Text To Life.
As an editorial photographer you are in a unique position to deliver powerful narratives to your audience that can transform the way they see and understand the world around them.
There are many different capacities in which you can work as an editorial photographer and so no matter what your personal interests or passion are you can find the right fit for you.
Editorial photography is an exciting genre to work in with no two days ever being quite the same! It’s a real adventure to shoot photos on the front line of the news, societal issues and current events although you’ll need to have creativity, tenacity and determination to make it to the top of the industry.
Have you done any work related to Editorial Photography?