2.5+ Million Headshots Generated (And Counting)

What Is Editorial Photography?

If you’ve read a magazine recently or spent some time browsing online publications, then you’re likely to have come across editorial photography. There are several elements that make editorial photography unique and so well-loved in the photography world. 

Whether you’re curious about trying out editorial photography for the first time, want to become a model for an editorial photographer, or you’re a seasoned pro looking for extra tips and tricks, here’s a guide on what you need to know. 

What Is Editorial Photography? 

Editorial photography aims to address a concept, form a narrative perspective and, ultimately, tell an overarching story. This story can depend on many factors, including the text that can accompany it, the artistic goals of the editorial photographer, and whether it’s contributing to a larger idea, including politics, religion, culture, and more. 

Editorial photography is also a relatively broad type of photography, meaning it can encompass a whole range of subjects, themes, backgrounds, and post-photography editing styles. While it’s common to find editorial photography in the main editorial contexts of magazines, newspapers, and online publications, you can also also find these types of photos in educational content hanging in art galleries. 

Editorial Photography vs Other Types of Photography 

Here are some differences and similarities between editorial photography and other popular types of photography. 

Editorial photography vs portrait photography 

Portrait photography aims to capture the likeness of a person (or in some cases, a group of people). Portraits can be used as art pieces, for social media, or for professional purposes. Often, these photos are captured from the chest up, with a main focus on the face. Like editorial photos, portrait photos can showcase the subject’s wide range of emotions, photogenic qualities, and bold makeup to capture their true personality.

However, unlike editorial photography, the main focus in portrait photography should always be on the person and less about the background or any surrounding elements that can contribute to the story. 

Editorial photography vs commercial photography 

Commercial photography aims to engage and entice a target audience by capturing the best elements of a product or service. Commercial photos are usually taken for marketing or advertising purposes, and displayed on billboards, on shop walls, or in online ad campaigns. 

Like editorial photos, commercial photos can provide a holistic view of the product and service, incorporating potential pain points as the “story.” However, editorial photos are often more raw, honest, and come from a neutral standpoint rather than a photo that is easy to market. 

Editorial photography vs architectural photography 

Architectural photography aims to capture buildings and specific features of their architecture. They can be used as inspiration for architects, engineers, and other types of building designers, or they can simply bring attention to some unique architectural properties. 

Like editorial photos, architectural photos can give a glimpse into the culture and time when the building was built, or bring viewers behind-the-scenes to more private and lucrative locations. Because the main focus of architectural photography is the building, it can lack the deep storytelling of editorial photography—which often combines architecture with landscape, nature, and people. 

Editorial photography vs abstract photography 

Abstract photography aims to showcase a visual that can’t be observed in the material world with our naked eye. They can be achieved using a mix of scientific materials, special camera techniques, and other tools, like microscopes. Think swirls, patterns, and playing around with color. You’ll often find abstract photos as background pictures on computer desktops or in art galleries. 

Like editorial photos, abstract photos challenge the viewer to see the world in a unique way as it’s not easily interpreted at first glance. Abstract photos can also incorporate more creative elements like playing with lights, shadows, and dimensions. However, abstract photos are generally repetitive and based upon a continuing pattern, which tends to not tell a complex story. 

How to Take Editorial Photos: 5 Tips and Tricks 

Want to take some next-level editorial photos? Here are some tips and tricks to make the whole process smoother and get those final photos that you’ll be sure to love. 

1. Plan beforehand

Whether you’re taking the photos yourself or getting help from a creative director and professional photographer, it’s always important to plan beforehand. A lot of elements can be involved in an editorial shoot, including the subject, props, technical equipment, and location, and sometimes things can go awry.

  • Create a detailed plan about the overall direction of the shoot and the main story you want the photos to showcase. While this can change throughout the photoshoot, it’s always good to get in with a plan so you have an idea on how to direct the subject. This includes the overall mood (what feelings do you want to evoke?) and main themes. 
  • Also, plan about what to do if things don’t work out or plans change. During a photoshoot, things can always happen in the spur of the moment. Factors like weather changes for an outdoor shoot and props that break or don’t incorporate well with the theme can put a damper on the day. But if you’ve prepared a contingency plan ahead of time, you can work around obstacles smoothly. 
  • Brief the team beforehand. If you’re using a model as your subject and you’ve got other assistants or team members on set with you, it’s always nicer to let them know what to expect. If everyone’s on the same page, it’s easier to smoothen out the process, align on the right poses, and get the job done more efficiently. 

2. Tell unique stories 

Editorial photography is all about telling stories. And while every story matters, the editorial photos that go viral or end up translating well to a wide range of audiences are those based around unique stories that aren’t shared often. 

Challenge the status quo. Editorial photography gives you permission to step out of the box and take risks. If you’ve been thinking of an artistic angle to approach a narrative about the current social or cultural landscape, be bold. Art is subjective and in some cases, criticism will be there even if you play it extremely safe. It’s always more rewarding to be true to yourself and produce photos that resonate with you. That way, it’s also more likely to resonate with others. 

Find subjects, places, or objects that inspire you. Sometimes, inspiration can strike at any time. Whether you find a location on YouTube that you can’t get out of your mind, you’ve read up on a person who has an amazing life story, or you’re passionate about an item you found in a thrift store, it’s worth exploring those ideas if you’re so inspired by them. In some cases, this could also mean traveling to different countries to get those perfect shots. 

3. Play around with light and colors 

Something that makes editorial photography so special is the combination of different elements in one photo. While the subject and surrounding props are important, so is light, color, and the overall dimensions of the photo. In fact, blending all of them seamlessly can better accentuate the story you want to tell. 

Don’t underestimate the power of lighting. It’s integral to conveying a mood and streams of light rays and shadows can add powerful visual interest. Filters and lights in a studio setting are more easily controlled, but taking editorial photos in natural light can’t be overrated—especially during sunrise and sunset. Just remember to find the right angle! 

Colors subconsciously indicate emotions. It’s the number one rule of brand analysis, which is why colors like red and purple are used to indicate power and passion while blue and green can evoke feelings of serenity and introspection. Create a color palette that you want to stick to based on the themes of your shoot and incorporate them with lighting filters, makeup, clothing, and backdrops. 

4. Be flexible 

Because editorial photos are innately creative by nature, there’s room for flexibility and additional ideas that may pop up during the photography stage. Your subject, team assistants, or you can have certain ideas that come to mind that potentially change the direction of the photoshoot or provide a new perspective. 

Encourage an open and flexible photoshoot environment. When there are too many expectations in a specific situation, the tense atmosphere and strict requirements can dampen creativity, resulting in an uninspired final photo. Ideally, the subjects should feel free and comfortable with you, as their photographer. 

We all have bad days sometimes. If too many things seem to go awry or you’ve just lost your inspiration and drive during the photoshoot, it’s worth taking a break and coming back when the moment feels right. Pushing through may be important if you have a deadline, but otherwise it’s worth putting yourself (and the desired outcome of the shoot) first. 

5. Bring the image to life with photo editing and enhancing

Even if you have the best in-person or studio setting, with high-quality props and great lighting equipment, it’s always recommended to tweak and optimize the final editorial photos with photo editing and enhancing.

AI pairs well with editorial photography due to the high levels of artistry required. Often, these creative elements are hard to execute in real-life, so incorporating them during the final editing stage is key. There are a lot of AI photo editors available on the market, including Lensa, which you can use from the comfort of your mobile, and Adobe Photoshop for more challenging alterations. 

You can use AI software to generate extra props for you, blur out complete sections of the photo, brighten specific props or areas to bring attention to them, remove unnecessary equipment like wires or stools, and bring the final editorial look to perfection. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Editorial Photography 

What are editorial photos used for? 

Every type of photography generally caters towards a specific purpose. For example, commercial photography aims to entice a potential customer into buying a product, and landscape photography aims to capture the essence of nature. The aim of editorial photos is to tell a story, or back up a particular narrative.

This is often why you’ll find editorial photos accompanying big blocks of text, like articles in an online blog, another type of web-based publication, or a physical newspaper. They help to break up the wall of text, evoke a specific mood to bring forth emotions, or share relevant information surrounding news or an event. 

However, editorial photography isn’t just limited to accompanying text. Instead, the concept of these types of photographs has somewhat shifted in the last few decades, to include images that can stand on their own to portray a certain creative angle. Editorial photography can be thought-provoking, powerful, and highly impactful, making it a must-have for any publication looking to engage their audiences in a new way.

What is an editorial look? 

Whether you’re the one taking the photos or the model in front of the camera, you may be wondering about how to get that editorial look. There’s a certain level of drama or flair that goes in an editorial photo, which is why you’ll often find models rocking this look in the pages of a magazine or on the catwalk. 

Think bold and artistic makeup, like a smokey eye, colorful eyeshadows, big hair, and other artistic elements. Photographers often play around with clothing, lighting, angles, and poses during an editorial photoshoot involving other people. You won’t find any simple selfies or unassuming full-body shots here. Instead, expect an editorial look that’s striking, unique, and leaves a big impact on you—which is often a goal of editorial photography. 

Is editorial photography only for high fashion? 

No. It’s a common misconception that editorial photography is only used for fashion campaigns or photoshoots in glossy magazines like Vogue due to its association with the word “editorial.” Editorial photography isn’t just about capturing people behind the camera lens. Almost every type of subject or item can be captured in an editorial way—and this includes food, clothes, and snippets of scenery.

When it comes to food, editorial photography is less about making the food look as moreish and appetizing as possible for advertising purposes and more about the other elements that make up the dish. What ingredients go into it? Who is the person cooking up the meal? How is it eaten? What makes it unique? 

When it comes to clothes, editorial photography is less about a simple shot of each angle of the item (like the pictures you find when online shopping), and more about the proportions and flair that make the clothes special. What theme is it trying to evoke? What does the designer want the wearer to feel? 

When it comes to travel and landscapes, editorial photography is less about capturing a specific tree, sunset, or street to show where you’ve been. Instead, it can tell a story about that place, capturing the nuance in the political, social, or cultural landscape at that moment in time. What makes that specific scene so impactful? Does it entice, sadden, or evoke feelings of tranquility? 

Do I need a professional photographer to get an editorial photo? 

No. While it’s certainly easier to get the expertise of a professional editorial photographer when you want those premium-quality shots, this isn’t necessary at all. If you have some experience with art direction, creative direction, or even having a rough idea about the story you want to tell, it’s possible to carry out the whole process by yourself—from the initial ideation to final editing.

However, it’s important to use a professional-grade camera, especially if you’re looking to post the photo on several platforms—like online publications, social media, and blogs. This will ensure the photo doesn’t become grainy or pixelated when uploading, and makes the end result look professional and polished. If you don’t own a professional-grade camera, you can enlist the help of someone close to you or borrow their equipment if you know how to use it. Of course, if you want to pursue editorial photography for the long-term, it’s worth investing in a good camera. 

In addition, professional photographers often have a studio, special lighting, and props to ensure a seamless photoshoot. If you don’t have any of the above, you can still get a good final result, but it may require extra time and costs. An easy way to get editorial-level photos with minimal fuss is with the help of tools like Adobe Photoshop. And if you want to get excellent headshots for editorial purposes, tools like Portrait Pal make the whole process seamless.

We believe in privacy first.

Any images you upload or any images that our AI generates are not saved. They are deleted immediately. We do not and will never sell your data. We do not train our AI using your uploaded or generated images.