Editorial Photography

I have been shooting fashion and glamour pictures for some time. But at some moment in time, it becomes boring and dull.

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So it was time for something new, editorial photography.  A great way to get more exposure, build my own portfolio, and receive unique assignments. It’s a challenge to deal with people, topics, technology within tied and well-defined time-lines and deliverables. For me, that is a good dose of photography steroids.

It seemed easy, as I had lots of experience with lights, camera’s, poses and models. Never the less I encountered new issues, some I was prepared for others I was not.

Get to know the context

A typical mistake is planning the scenes without exactly knowing what the final picture will accompany, that could be a text or any form of multimedia. The writer or editor my approach a location or item from a specific angle, write about it in special terms.

It is good practice to get that knowledge beforehand so that the picture “leads in”. Give the story a quick glance , it helps to set the tone for the shoot. If it mentions a Vintage Bike then find a location that fits and bring that artifact into the shot. There is no such thing as been “ overly prepared and educated” , don’t forget  that the photographer is in some cases also the art director.

Always ask for the Orientation of the picture before shooting it.

Editors have already an idea of the publication layout. Ask for the predicted size and orientation that they have in mind. However, good practice is to shoot landscape and portrait for every scene. Allowing for flexibility as content layout may change at any time.

These are very simple aspects, and if known in advance it returns added value and efficiency. For instance, knowing that the story text will overlap the image should trigger  for a clean background or shoot with a shallow depth of field that won’t compete with text. Some content will be on the right and other on the left, shoot with the subject looking in both directions so they don’t look off the page.


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Used to shoot landscape?

That is a problem as most editorial products are portrait based, especially magazine work. Shoot at least a few shots for the cover and make sure to leave space for the magazine header. Do this by avoiding busy backgrounds and keeping signage out of your shot. Consider investing in a battery grip with a vertical release. It will help make straighter shots.

Art Directors

Editorial art directors like smart, sharp images with straight lines and clean composition. Shoot with the correct perspective and straight horizontals and verticals it saves lots of time in post processing and avoids ending up with been out of luck in post processing. Get it all right before leaving the scene. Don’t miss out on details besides global and focused shots.

The bad habit of cropping in the camera.

The difference with shooting for magazines is that the images often take up the entire page and need bleed room. Leave extra room along the sides. Take a step back before taking the shot. It might be hard to get used to, but remember extra space is needed for the bleed. Nobody wants images to be unusable because the shot is too tight. Get a camera with ample of pixels, and frame larger, leaving sufficient flexibility for bleed zones.


Most shoots require models. The selection of suitable models can only be successful if the target audience of the publication is known, so ask. While most of us are attracted to youth, a magazine’s readership might be more sophisticated therefore it’s important to find subjects that fit the editorial’s readership. Look at the models with the art director and give feedback on preference. Recommend stylists and makeup artists that strengthen the shot.

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Models are actors.

Knowing their roles in the story,  helps to form the scene and expression in a way that compliments the tone of the article. Images of a motorcycle garment should not be shot in the same way as images of a Medical Surgeon. With every photo, make sure that the environment, props, pose, outfit, and mood matches the subject and the overall message of the shoot.

Time is money.

Art directors enjoy working with photographers that work quickly, just as any other boss would. Wrap up a shoot as swift as possible, avoid long shoots as it exhaust the subject and it takes too much of the art director’s day. The real trick is good and structured post processing while delivering quickly. In most cases editing for editorial is not as soft or romantic as wedding photography, but more bold, clean and saturated.

Don’t spend 90% of your time trying to fix the last 10% of corrections. Good is good enough.

And finally, being professional, level headed, fast working, humble and nice is just as important as making good photographs.

Thanks for reading.


One thought on “Editorial Photography

  1. Pingback: Shooting editorial pictures, video | Shooting Phase One

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