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Editorial fashion woman portrait

What is Editorial Photography?

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Editorial photography is associated with photography in newspapers, magazines, and online publication mediums. The prime purpose of these pictures is to support the written content. Images published in editorials usually illustrate the information written but not always.

Though editorial photography is a sub-genre under the umbrella of photography, it still covers many subjects. As a matter of fact, editorial photography covers almost all types of photography.

Grab a magazine or newspaper, and you will find portraits, abstract, fashion, architectural, product, double exposure photography, and many different types of images within that magazine or newspaper.

How to start as an Editorial photographer?

Editorial photography can be an advantageous career choice for people with creative attributes, a deep sense of understanding a topic, and passion. Research conducted by an e-platform salary .com states that in the USA, “The average Editorial Photographer salary is $46,124 as of April 27, 2021, but the salary range typically falls between $38,245 and $53,082.”

People with professional degrees, additional courses, experience/polished skillsets, et cetera are earning 6 figure salaries too.

As a freelancer

Besides career choice, anyone can pursue it as a freelancer and earn additional income. You can register your editorial images on websites like Stockshutter or get in touch with any news agency and work for them on a project basis.

Another way to land yourself a project as an editorial photographer is by signing up on freelancing websites. Many people are posting projects of such a nature and looking for editorial photographers to work on their projects remotely.

Man and two ladies posing on a bench

Starting with this genre of shooting is as simple as starting with any other type:


The most obvious but important step to start with anything is learning about it. If you want to pursue a career, a master of photography, any similar degree, or a professional diploma is a common way forward. But that’s not it. You can find many people who have degrees in other fields still working as professional editorial photographers because they have skills. Skills are what matter most in the field.

If you are passionate, you should learn about photography itself, especially about cameras and their settings. Editorial photography or anything else in the world of photography will come in handy.

To learn about the basics of editorial photography, look for a course in your locality and join it. You can also join any good online course about editorial photography. These courses usually cost the same or less and offer live and pre-recorded lectures, guidance by professionals, study material, and your work assessment depending upon the course you chose.

Udemy.com, masterclass.com, skillshare are some popular websites.

Man talking on the phone

Area to focus

People who want to work as photographers and have already found their niche can find work more easily. These photographers have developed their work brand, which employers can easily recognize.

If you don’t know already, find your niche depending upon your skill level or liking. As mentioned prior, there are several sub-niches under editorial photography itself. Once you have recognized your niche, you know which employer you want to reach, i.e., if fashion interests you know, you have to access fashion magazines.

It will also help you polish your skills as you move further in your career and help you to get your work recognized.

Assisting jobs

Assisting a professional photographer is the best way to learn skills and gain experience. It is also a golden opportunity to understand how the industry works and building contacts.

Find out if there is any reputable editorial photographer whom you can offer assistantship. You can approach them by writing an email, dropping your portfolio at their office, through recommendations, or via an online photography forum. Make sure you prospect him with your talent and dedication to learning. We recommend you compiling a little portfolio for him.

Bear in mind assistantship will bring you little or no monetary benefits. It’s just a part of your learning process.

People running on the beach

Study ideal customers

These are the potential publishers interested in your work.

Find the mediums which can buy your work. These can be online or offline.

Make a good portfolio

A good portfolio is necessary for every photograph, no matter what career stage he is on. The portfolio is your business card in a world full of potential clients. Most people demand a sharing portfolio either you approach them for a job, or they do.

If you have experience working in any other niche, you can use that experience to compile an original portfolio. Editorial photographs are those images that are published. The basic requirement of any good editorial photograph is that it should be relevant to written content or telling a story itself. So if you have a unique personal brand, a portfolio related to your previous work is enough to showcase your skillset.

Approaching for work

Now you know the market and have a portfolio, start sharing it with the relevant publications.

Keep your portfolio very relevant to the niche of the publication you are sharing it with. Also, keep updating it from time to time. Do not compromise on originality or your work, or your deadlines.

Besides looking for publications to hire you on a project/job basis, look for freelancing platforms projects. These projects are usually very short-term but a source of a good passive income. Also, publish and register your work on stock image sites.

There are thousands of people who prefer pictures from these sites instead of shooting themselves. Every time someone will use your image, you will earn.

People walking

Building reputation

A good or bad reputation in the industry decides where a person’s career is heading.

Once you start getting work, never compromise on your work ethics and reputation. Fulfill given deadlines, negotiate well, give your best no matter the project size, and always keep your work original. This all will bring you good employability throughout your career.

Difference between editorial and commercial photography:

Editorial and commercial photography is widely confused with each other mainly because both have several things in common. But they have more differences than similarities. In easy words, commercial and editorial photography are not identical twins but sisters.

Core purpose

The only purpose of commercial photography is to aid businesses in selling products/services and marketing.

Whereas editorial photography has no such purpose; these visuals strengthen the content/story by illustrating what is written, supporting documentation, or simply telling a story independently.


Images published in a newspaper/magazine/website are editorial no matter whether tens of other pictures are shot with that subject.

On the other hand, all images shot individually for commercial purposes or in a campaign, fall under the category of commercial photography.

Photographer’s work

Though a commercial photographer has a creative window while shooting, he still has to fulfill the clients’ expectations/guidelines.

In contrast, an editorial photographer has a lot more freedom. He has to bring an image aiding editorial story or telling a story itself.

Rival people

Legal difference

Editorial images are highly relevant to the subject under discussion. Every image is carefully reviewed before publishing and is for non-commercial purposes only.

Commercial photography also gets under the knife of post-processing and reviews, but these photographs have much more exclusive rights. For example, images in brand, logos are copyrights of owners. Imitating or misusing those pictures can lead to court procedures, lawsuits, and heavy fines.

A commercial photograph cannot be used without permission, especially if it gains profit or uses it for marketing purposes. In comparison to these strict copyrights, editorial photographs mostly have an “Editorial use only” license.

This license allows anyone to use copyrighted law for general awareness, news reporting, criticism, education, academic use et cetera. If used for commercial or advertising purposes, legal consequences follow.


Editorial photography as a profession or as a hobby is fun. Your single photograph can be powerful enough to tell a tale to a viewer or introduce him to a piece of totally new information.

Experience a lot with your camera. Practice whatever new information you learn from somewhere or from your mentor. Think about ways how you can tell a story via your camera lens. Following all these basic tips, you will see improvements in your work in no time.

Professionally, editorial photography is a promising niche if you have a polished skill set, but it is never a bad idea to earn money with your hobby. Give prime importance to building a good portfolio, develop your unique style, and build a reputation, and many surprising results are waiting in this field!

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