What Is Editorial Photography? (With Types And Skills)

Updated 5 March 2023

Editorial photography is a type of photography in which the images captured by a photographer appear in print or online publications. These publications print information on various topics, like current events, travel, wildlife and entertainment. By learning what editorial photography is, you can decide if you want to pursue this career path. In this article, we learn what editorial photography is, explore some skills that help an editorial photographer become a successful professional in this field and examine the steps to become one.

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What is editorial photography?

The answer to the question 'What is editorial photography?' lies in the nuances of visual storytelling. Editorial photography focuses on using images to tell a story. A publication hires an editorial photographer to produce images that can go with their written articles. This type of photography helps the readers to visualise what the author has written. You may find editorial photographs being commonly featured in newspapers, magazines and editorial features. Editorial photography may be artistic, serious in nature or involve complex lighting.

Editorial photographers click images that express the purpose of written articles. A photograph for a political news story may express the mood of a politician, while a photograph for an awareness campaign may focus on conveying the message of the campaign. Unlike commercial photography, editorial photography has little scope for artificial lights where the photographers have to be highly inventive and spontaneous.

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Types of editorial photography

There are many areas in which an editorial photographer may work. Working for a publication, they may get to cover a sports event, a political rally or even a war. Here are the different types of editorial photography:


An editorial photographer covering politics focuses primarily on taking portrait photos. These photos focus on showing the faces of the politicians or large crowds gathered to attend a political rally. There may be times when a photographer has to cover communal tensions in an area or social issues, like poverty or hunger. During elections, a photographer travels extensively to take photos that express the mood of the people who are going to cast their votes.

Spot news

Spot news photography focuses on covering events like crime, automobile accidents, aeroplane crashes, volcanic eruptions, rains and fire breakouts. Here, a photographer has to reach the spot of the incident as quickly as possible to capture the moments of a tragedy or emotional event. They have s smaller timeframe to select the right place from where they can take credible photos since these news spots may occur suddenly and end quickly.


Sports editorial photographers cover one or more sporting events. There are photographers who specialise in taking pictures of a specific sport, like cricket or football. In such cases, a photographer has knowledge of the sport and is also interested in it. A photographer at a cricket match realises the importance of clicking a photo at the right moment to not miss a player taking a catch or hitting a six.


War editorial photography means taking photos of areas witnessing violence. For such assignments, a photographer may cover a war between two nations or internal violence, like a riot or an uprising. Motivated professionals may place themselves in challenging situations to capture the tension. Such photos often express the trauma of a conflict in a certain area or region.


Publications covering news related to famous personalities or movie stars hire entertainment editorial photographers. These photographers click photos of celebrities and the lifestyle of the rich and famous. They often cover events like award ceremonies, celebrity parties and music concerts. Their style of photography focuses on taking photos of eminent people and their candid moments.


This type of editorial photography involves documenting an area's landscape, people, cultures, traditions and history. An assignment in this area may focus on clicking photos for an article that lists famous spots for people to visit when in a specific city. Travel editorial photographers explore a place thoroughly to record its many features, like architecture, restaurants, nightlife, markets and regular events.


Wildlife editorial photographers have a challenging role to document different forms of wildlife in their natural habitats. These assignments often focus on recording an animal's behaviour for which the photographer has to stay extremely patient to get the perfect photo. Sometimes, photographers cannot approach some animals easily, so possessing knowledge of that animal's behaviour plays an important role in predicting its action and clicking the right photo at the correct time.

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Common responsibilities of an editorial photographer

Here are a few common responsibilities of an editorial photographer:

  • Understand the history and role of photography in society.

  • Determine the transformation of photography into the digital world.

  • Learn how to operate a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera.

  • Build digital photography workflow and post-production skills.

  • Develop photo galleries for online publications and distribution channels.

  • Maintain and manage the photography equipment.

Editorial photography skills

A successful editorial photographer possesses the ability to work flexible hours and understand the different techniques involved in photography. Their level of endurance is also strong as there are some assignments where they have to stand or crouch for long hours. Here are some other editorial photography skills:

Artistic skills

To be a successful editorial photographer, you may possess creative skills to understand composition and exposure control. Having the knowledge of visual elements and light helps you add to the quality of your photographs. The photographer's artistic talent in this field is also determined by their evaluation of poses and angles. They realise the significance of accurately depicting a subject's personality, a landmark's distinctive feature and nature's beauty. Artistic skills help them evoke emotions a viewer may feel within the context of an image.

Technical skills

Working with a camera means knowing its technical features to take wonderful photos. These skills include white balance, apertures, maximum dynamic range and best shutter speeds. A skilled editorial photographer also focuses on the understanding of post-production editing. With this editing, they are able to adjust colour balances, edit contrast or exposure and deliver photos of the highest quality. They typically use a photo editing software to implement these modifications, change the size of a photo or convert a photo into a different format.

Attention to detail

When an editorial photographer pays attention to detail, they are able to take photos that capture rare moments. With these skills, they scrutinise their surroundings and determine a position from where they may get a great photo. They also apply attention to detail skills to edit their photos. They quickly spot the flaws in a photo and remove them to produce high-quality work. These skills may help them find out if a photo's colour is off and edit it to feature more vivid hues.


Photographers often work long hours, sometimes during days, nights or weekends. In this role, they work in harsh weather conditions under challenging situations. A successful editorial photographer knows how to adapt to varied work environments and submit work within deadlines. Adaptability skills allow them to stay calm under pressure and still deliver quality work. These skills also help them push through unexpected situations, like unforeseen weather conditions.

Related: How To Take A Professional Photo: A Complete Guide

How to become an editorial photographer

Follow these steps to become an editorial photographer:

1. Find a niche

Finding a niche or an area of expertise is the first step you may take to become an editorial photographer. Determine the types of photography subjects you are passionate about and if you prefer working indoors or outdoors. Assessing these points may allow you to find your niche that aligns with your interests.

2. Develop skills

There are many skills that are involved in becoming an efficient editorial photographer. Consider signing up for courses or joining relevant communities on social media to learn more about these skills. By doing this, you may understand technical art, aesthetics and photography better. Take part in skill development programmes and follow the latest industry trends.

3. Buy photography equipment

Consider buying the photography equipment based on what you will take pictures of and where you may be taking these photos. Once you have evaluated these points, buy the most common photography tools, like a camera, tripods, portable lighting and speciality lenses. You may buy a premium photo editing software if you plan to edit your own photos.

4. Learn how to use the equipment and image editing software

Possessing an in-depth knowledge of your equipment proves to be helpful. Knowing about each camera setting and what it does helps you take better photos. Search for online lessons on using your image editing software to explore its full potential. These steps take practise and patience and help you become a skilled editorial photographer.

5. Start clicking photos and build a portfolio

Clicking a lot of photos allows you to use your equipment extensively. This exercise is a great way to not only learn more about the equipment but also improve it with each passing day. If there are some photos that look good, share them with your friends and family to receive feedback. If they too like them, start building your portfolio by including these photos in it.

6. Apply for jobs

Once you have your portfolio ready, look for jobs at studios or media houses. Visit the websites of newspapers, magazines and book publishers to see if there are job openings. Fill out the job application form and submit it along with your portfolio and a cover letter highlighting your education and internship experiences.

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