The Beginner’s Guide to Editorial Photography

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published June 9, 2022

musician stands on street corner holding guitar

Editorial photography is all about capturing the perfect moment and telling a story with your images.

If you’re new to this type of photography, don’t worry – I’m here to help!

In this guide, I’ll teach you the basics of editorial photography so that you can create stunning images that tell a story. Let’s get started!

What is Editorial Photography?

Editorial photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing images that tell a story or convey a message. This can be done through news reporting, event coverage, or simply by capturing everyday moments.

Editorial photography is used in magazines, newspapers, and online media to provide visual content for articles and stories.

What Sets Editorial Photography Apart?

Editorial photography is different from other types of photography in a few ways.

First, editorial photographers often have to work quickly and efficiently to capture the perfect moment. This means that they must be prepared for anything and be able to think on their feet.

Second, editorial photography is usually more candid than other types of photography. This allows professional photographers to capture natural and unplanned moments that tell a more authentic story.

Finally, editorial photography often has a specific purpose or message that it is trying to communicate. This can be done through the composition of the image, the use of color, or even the timing of the photograph.

Ontario creates 013 | robert lowdon photography
An editorial style image that tells a story

What Equipment Do I Need?

Editorial photographs can be done with any type of camera, from a simple point-and-shoot to a professional DSLR.

However, the type of equipment you use will likely depend on the type of photography you’re doing. For example, if you’re photographing a news event, you’ll need a camera that can shoot in low light and capture fast-moving action.

On the other hand, if you’re taking portraits or capturing everyday moments, a less expensive camera will probably suffice.

I have seen news photographers have everything from an entry-level DSLR to top-of-the-line ones. Usually, higher-level news photographers will predominately use top-end DSLRs.

Here is what I would recommend for someone getting serious about editorial photography. Either Nikon or Canon is a good choice.

Nikon System

Nikon D6

This is Nikon’s flagship camera. It’s a full-frame DSLR with 24.5 megapixels. It can shoot up to 14 frames per second and has 4K video capabilities.

It’s a great camera for news photographers or anyone who needs to shoot in low light or capture fast action.

Nikon 14-24 f.2.8

This is an ultra-wide-angle lens that’s essential for news photographers. It’s fast and sharp.

Nikon 70-200 f2.8

This is a telephoto lens that’s great for sports photography or capturing images from a distance.

Nikon 300mm f2.8

This is an even longer telephoto lens. It’s great for getting close to the action at a sporting event.

Note: The new Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera is a great option. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite have the matching lenses yet to make it the best option.

Canon System

Canon EOS-1DX Mark III

This is Canon’s flagship DSLR. It’s a full-frame camera with 20.1 megapixels. It can shoot up to 16 frames per second and has 4K video capabilities.

It’s a great camera for news photographers or anyone who needs to shoot in low light or capture fast action.

Canon 11-24mm f4L

This is an ultra-wide-angle lens that’s essential for news photographers. It’s fast and sharp.

Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II

This is a telephoto lens that’s great for sports photography or capturing images from a distance.

Canon 200-400mm f4L IS

This is an even longer telephoto lens. It’s great for getting close to the action at a sporting event.

Note: The new Canon EOS R5 is a great option. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite have the matching lenses yet to make it the best option.

Most new photographers will run two camera bodies at the same time. This way you won’t have to change lenses so often.

Pro tip: Consider buying used equipment to help keep costs down. News doesn’t usually require many megapixels, so an older body will work.

Actor headshot photographed back stage
Editorial image of an actor

How to Become an Editorial Photographer

To become an editorial photographer, you will need to have a strong portfolio that showcases your work. You should also be familiar with the different types of editorial photography, as well as the editing process. Additionally, it is helpful to have a network of contacts in the photo industry.

If you want to become an editorial photographer, follow these steps:

Develop your skills

Editorial photography requires a specific skill set. To become an editorial photographer, you will need to be able to take high-quality photos that tell a story. You should also be familiar with the different types of editorial photography, as well as the editing process.

Build a strong portfolio

A strong portfolio is essential for any photographer, but it is especially important for editorial photographers. Your portfolio should showcase your skills and highlight your best editorial work.

Network with people in the industry

It is helpful to have a network of contacts in the industry, as this will give you a better chance of getting hired for editorial photography jobs.

Get a Gig

Once you have developed your skills and built a strong portfolio, you can start going after editorial photography jobs. Contact magazines, newspapers, or online publications.

You often will start to shoot editorial photography as a freelancer or stringer.

You get editorial work from the photo editor. So, that’s the person to contact.

Reach out to Smaller Publications

If you are just starting out, it is best to reach out to smaller publications first. These publications are more likely to be open to working with new photographers. And, they may be more willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.

Advance your career

As you gain experience, you can start to specialize in a certain type of editorial photography. You can also begin to take on more responsibility, such as heading up an editorial photoshoot or working with a team of photographers.

Relate: How to Become a Professional Photographer

What is Editorial Fashion Photography

Editorial fashion photography is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing images of people in the latest fashions. This type of photography is often seen in magazines, newspapers, and online media.

Fashion editorial photographers must be able to work quickly and efficiently to capture the perfect moment. They must also be able to think on their feet and be prepared for anything.

Fashion editorials are everywhere and they have been around for a long time. Expect to see fashion editorials stay in popular culture for a long time.

Construction photography 002 | robert lowdon photography
Arms crossed is the most common pose for editorial images

The Difference Between Commercial and Editorial Photography

There are two main types of photography: editorial and commercial photography. Editorial photography is typically used to capture images for newspapers, magazines, or other forms of media.

Commercial photography, on the other hand, is usually used to promote products or services.

Both editorial and commercial photography have their own set of guidelines. For example, editorial photography typically requires that the images be editorial in nature, meaning that they must be newsworthy or of public interest.

Commercial photography can be used to promote just about anything.

One of the biggest differences between editorial and commercial photography is the way that the photos are used.

Editorial photographs are typically used to tell a story, whereas commercial photos are often used to sell a product or service.

Another difference between the two types of photography is the way that they are shot. Editorial photography is typically shot in a more candid style, while commercial photography is often staged and set up in advance. For this reason, commercial photography can have more creative freedom.

If you’re not sure which type of photography is right for you, it’s important to think about the purpose of the photographs you want to take.

Are you looking to capture images for a news story?

Or are you looking for more creative freedom?

Once you know the answer to this question, you’ll be able to better decide which type of photography is right for you.

Commercial and editorial photography are both great ways to make a living. You can do either or both if you prefer.

The Rules of News Editorial Images

News editorial images should be accurate and truthful.

They should also be fair and impartial, without any bias or agenda.

Images should be objective

They should not be trying to sell something or promote a particular point of view. They should simply present the facts as they are.

Images should be unbiased

They should not show any favoritism or partiality towards one side or another. They should be equally objective and fair to all parties involved.

Images should be respectful

They should not be derogatory or offensive in any way. They should be respectful of all people and cultures featured in them.

Images should be culturally sensitive

They should take into account the different customs and beliefs of different cultures featured in them. They should not offend or disrespect any culture featured in them.

Images should be timely

They should be relevant to the current news cycle and not out-of-date. They should also be fresh, meaning they should not have been seen before by the audience.

Images should be well-composed

They should be aesthetically pleasing and easy to look at. They should also be well-lit and in focus.

Images should be original

They should not be copied or stolen from another source. They should be created specifically for the news outlet that is using them.

Images should be of high quality

They should be clear and sharp. They should also be large enough to be seen clearly on all devices.

Images should be credited

The news outlet should list the name of the photographer or artist who created them. This is to give credit where it is due and to avoid plagiarism.

Images should not be manipulated

This means that news or current events publications will not accept images that have been heavily edited in photoshop.

These are just a few of the basic rules that apply to news editorial images. For more detailed guidance, please consult with your news organization’s editorial policy and or creative director.

Where is Editorial Photography Used

Editorial photography is used in a variety of ways, from newspapers and magazines to online media. It can be used to capture an event, tell a story, or simply provide a visual for an article. Whatever the purpose, an editorial photograph must be high quality and well-composed in order to be effective.

Newspapers & Publications

One of the most common uses for editorial photography is in newspapers. News photographs must be timely, as they are often used to illustrate a breaking story. They generally use natural light or flash.

Magazine Articles

Another common use for editorial photography is in magazines. Magazines often use editorial photos to accompany articles or features. Like news photos, they must be high quality and well-composed. They may conduct an editorial photoshoot with a celebrity or person of interest.

Blog Articles and Websites

Editorial photography can also be used online, on websites, or on blogs. Here, photos must be high quality and well-composed in order to be effective. In addition, they should be sized appropriately for the web and optimized for search engines.

Editorial shot of woman at table on balcony in downtown toronto
Showing subjects in context tells a better story

Editorial Images in Stock Photography

If you’re looking for editorial images, there are plenty of stock photography websites that offer a great selection.

Some of the most popular stock photography websites for editorial images include Shutterstock, iStockphoto, and Getty Images.

When searching for editorial images on stock photo websites, be sure to use keywords that describe the type of photo you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for an image of a person working at a computer, you might use the keywords “office” or “business.”

Once you’ve found a few images that you like, be sure to read the licensing information carefully. Some stock websites require you to purchase an image before you can use it, while others allow you to use the image for free as long as you give credit to the photographer.

Commercial Use Restrictions of Editorial Photography

Editorial photography is a powerful and effective way to communicate a message. However, these photos are for editorial use only. That means they are subject to certain restrictions when it comes to commercial use.

As a general rule, editorial photos cannot be used for commercial purposes without the express permission of the copyright holder. This means that businesses and other organizations cannot use these photos in advertisements, marketing materials, or on their websites without prior approval.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. For example, businesses may be able to use editorial photos of public figures without permission if the photo is used for news reporting or commentary.

Additionally, some photos may be considered “fair use” and can be used without permission under certain circumstances. But, in general, businesses should get permission before using editorial photography for commercial purposes.

So, if you’re thinking about utilizing an editorial use photo for your business, make sure to get the necessary permissions first. Otherwise, you could be facing some serious legal consequences. If you are not sure consult your stock agency.

Commercial Use

If you want to use an image for commercial purposes you usually need at least a model release. If it is a recognizable location, you will also need a property release. If it’s recognizable people in the photo you will need that model release.

Property and model releases will constitute legal permission in most cases. They should also contain unlimited usage rights for use in many publications. If not, get a contract for that too.

Conclusion

Editorial photography is a great way to tell stories and capture moments. Use your own style and have a great creative concept to make a name for yourself. A photographer’s work is their best marketing tool. Plan an editorial photo shoot and see if you like it.

If you’re interested in getting started, I hope this guide has been helpful. Remember to practice often, and don’t be afraid to put your work out there. With a little hard work and dedication, you can become a successful editorial photographer. Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you found this guide helpful, please share it with your friends!

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