I assume you have most likely come across several different kinds of photographs in newspapers and magazines. Have you ever noticed the editorial section? Almost all newspapers have an editorial section specifically dedicated to hot issues or trend-related articles, along with photographs. Classic editorial photography doesn’t have any commercial aspects. The editorial sections of most newspapers and magazines never promote any of their advertisements for business purposes. It usually depends upon the editor’s choices. This style (generally known as editorial photography) tends to be more realistic than in other genres of photography.
One of the purposes of editorial photography is to support the article it is paired with by adding an engaging visual interface. This genre of photography uses imagery and sometimes graphical illustration from realistic points of view. These photos can also appear on the front page of a magazine or newspaper. The subjects of these images can be anything, from fashion to the mundane. From the classical point of view, editorial photography interprets the content of an article in an artistic manner. However, they do not directly promote any commercial viewpoints. Rather, they take a passive role to endorse the concepts themselves. You can get a clear view of this if you follow fashion or trend-related magazines.
Modern-day editorial photography in magazines essentially focuses on fashion photography. Getting into this profession is a brilliant idea. As a professional photographer, you can gain global exposure and earn a generous salary. Fashion photography is usually shot indoors, but you will also occasionally see it done outdoors. If models are involved, they usually are required to sign a contract. These are few tips and ideas on editorial photography.
On the other hand, if you enjoy working with new agencies you may have to travel extensively and handle difficult situations. Traveling expenses are generally sponsored by the company.
The Right Gears
Keep in mind, this is not amateur photography where you can display the colors of your imagination. You have to fulfill an editor’s decisions and plans, which are often subjective. Their decisions are then subjected to mass communications and sometimes a passive promotion of a specific trend. Because of this, you must have a professional-grade camera with a lens kit that contains a 50mm, 500mm, and (obviously) an 18-300mm multipurpose lens for quick shooting in varied distance conditions. A full-frame camera that is 35mm DSLR is preferable.
Clear understanding of article
Adding a visual aid to the article is the main purpose behind the “editorial image”. Hence, as a photographer, you should have a clear understanding of the related article. Before starting your project, ask your editor to clearly explain the subject and from what point of view the photograph should be taken. Try to be subjective. Only shoot relevant images, otherwise, your reputation as a professional photographer will decline.
Consult with the editor about layout
When you are given a subject to shoot, ask the editor about the dimensions of the image to be published. The editor may have a layout for the article in their mind or in a mockup they have created.
Always verify with your editor the orientation of the image (if it is horizontal or vertical). Most magazine’s front-page photos are taken with a vertical orientation, whereas inside stories are published with a horizontal orientation.
Shooting for the cover page
In any case, you should always follow your editor’s opinion. The cover page of any magazine reflects the content inside, so that image should fit the purpose. Generally, vertical orientation is preferable.
Another important aspect is the size of the image. Different magazines have their own preferred dimensions. You should also ask the editor about the bleeding area of your image. If you do not leave any bleeding area, your main subject in the image may lose some part of itself which would then be subjected to rejection. The bleeding area is nothing but some extra space on the edges of the image, and these portions are not printed in the original image. Cropping the image affects the quality of the image, so always leave some extra space around the edge of the frame.
Subject to be highlighted
Whether you are covering a model or a live event, highlighting is one of the most important aspects of editorial photography. Discuss with the editor the main objectives. For example, if you are shooting to boost the trend of a colorful lipstick, you should focus on the lips of your model rather than covering the whole body. Also ask the editor what parts should be out of focus, to see if they have any special ideas. Consider the lighting setup and ask them which parts of the body should be highlighted. If you are shooting for luxury clothing, you should generally cover the whole body.
But, if your editor wants you to highlight a particular portion you must follow that. In the case of news-oriented editorial photography, ask the editor about what points of view the image should be displayed from. Remember, even a small portion of the subject can tell the whole story.
Editors often use imagery to describe a subject, but some may ask you to cover the whole story. Modern trends tend to go with HD-quality images. You should hopefully have a working knowledge of different types of image manipulation software (like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom).
Dealing with professional models
If you are given an assignment to shoot a model for the front page of a magazine, you should first ask the editor about the class and age group of the average readers of that particular magazine. The tastes and choices of an individual are often dictated by his or her age.
A magazine dedicated to teenagers may not be suitable to read for a middle-aged person. If you are working for a teenager’s magazine, it is advisable to choose a model from a suitable teenage group. Likewise, if you are working for a magazine dedicated to middle-aged individuals, choose the model accordingly.
Selecting a model is sometimes tricky, so you must have a good sense of character. A little knowledge of drama and the visual arts can be very helpful in choosing the right model. A bit of knowledge in posing and human anatomy would also be an advantage.
Keep in touch with different modeling agencies. You can also contact models individually. Good communication skills and submissive behaviors are also important. Keep a track record of the performance of your models.
A screen test is necessary
In the case of modeling photography, a screen test would be very helpful. Many models look great to the naked eye, but the lens of a camera can portray them differently. A model with a simple look may appear extraordinary in a final print. Shoot a model from different angles, using varied exposures and remembering to watch for angles that make them look their best. Screen tests should be performed in a professional studio (or if necessary), you can do it outdoors.
So, a highly equipped studio is very important. Besides that, you should also have the contact information for both a good hair stylist and a makeup artist.
Ability to tackle difficult situations
This is one of the keys to success to becoming a successful editorial photographer. You may be given an assignment to cover a riot or victims of a natural catastrophe like an earthquake, flood, etc.
For this, you have to be physically and mentally fit, and communicative. Being knowledgable in the regional language is an extra advantage. You should be able to maintain calm and easily cope with difficult situations. Always maintain a good reputation because you may have to cover VIPs, or work in protected areas.
The above photograph depicts Justin Trudeau (the Canadian prime minister) practicing yoga. This symbolic image shows the wide-spread acceptance of yoga as a medium of fitness, and is a good fit for an editorial section. The image contains a message within.
You should never enter protected areas unless you carry an official identity card (also known as a press card) of the agency you are working for. These conditions are especially applicable for newspaper photography.
Maintain the deadline
You should complete your assignment within the provided deadlines. Maintaining your deadline doesn’t mean you have to complete your shooting haphazardly. You must put maximum effort into completing the task while trying to avoid any mistakes. Maintaining your deadline is helpful in boosting your reputation within the industry. Always get advice from your editor and try to maintain good relationships with them. A good working relationship with the editor can often be very helpful to you as an editorial photographer.