Key Things to Look for in a Professional Editorial Photographer

What Makes a Great Editorial Photographer?


What’s that old saying?  A picture is worth a thousand words?  There is no easier way to grab a readers attention that with an amazing, eye catching image.  You might have the biggest, best story of the year but if you don’t grab your readers attention and give them a reason to read it, no one will.  This is where having a great editorial photographer can make all the difference.  A great editorial photographer will be able to provide you with:

  • Creativity and Flair
  • Compelling and attention grabbing images
  • Quality and Professional Results

Get the most out of your brief

Everyone at some point in their career has worked to a brier.  A good editorial photographer will see your brief and see the areas that can really make it shine.  Let’s take the image below as an example.  The original brief for this image was that the band wanted all 4 of them tied to chairs.  One of them will have broken free but sitting there having a cigar and an outside hand would appear in the image pouring the petrol onto one of them.  I instantly knew that this idea had massive potential, it just needed a little bit of tweaking.  I immediately suggested that we ditched the outside hand and had one of the other bands mates take up this role.  At first my suggestion was met with a little bit of resistance, but once we shot the image and they saw the results they knew this was the better, more compelling solution.


Besides adding creativity to your shoot, a professional editorial photographer will also be able to add flair to the image.  The above image is a perfect example of this.  Even though the overall concept for the image is interesting and compelling the image could have turned out extremely dull and boring.  To properly tell a story through a photograph, everything needs to be exaggerated to portray the meaning better.  If we just had the guy standing up straight and casually dumping petrol on his fellow band mates head the image would have a completely different feel.  By having him exaggerate the pouring we are able to portray more emotion and story into the image.

Grab Their Attention! Make Them Want More!


There is nothing better than an image that not only grabs your attention, but also leaves you wanting to know more.  Professional editorial photographers know that their images are being used to either support an article or to cover a magazine.  Images used in either situation need to represent what the article or main feature of the magazine is about, and they also need to do it in a way that will not only grab the readers attention but also make them want to turn the page to find out more.  The image above was shot for a local band promoting the launch of their new EP.  It is going to be  used on flyers, websites, and magazines all trying to drum up interest in the band to people that may not have heard of them before and I doubt most people would just pass over this image without taking notice.


Is it Usable?


Imagine that you book a photographer for your editorial shoot.  You wanted to save a bit of money, so you booked the first photographer Google found you.  During the shoot everything appeared to be going well, but when you get the finished images you realise that none of them are actually usable.  The images might be out of focus, or the resolution not high enough.  But the most common mistake, especially for images that are going to be used on the cover of a magazine, is not leaving enough “dead” space in the image for text and copy.  If we look again at the above image, even though this crop is square the top of the image is pitch black.   This is ideal because it can be expanded upwards and there will be room for the masthead if it is going to be used on a magazine.  A good, professional editorial photographer will always leave dead space in an image in anticipation of text and other images being placed upon the photograph.


When hiring an editorial photographer, remember to look for

  • creativity and flair
  • compelling and attention grabbing images
  • quality and professional results

Don’t be afraid to ask to see a portfolio of images that relate to what you are looking for.  Most professional photographers will gladly provide you with examples of their work.


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March 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

[…] You ever get a brief for a shoot and just know that it is going result in awesomeness?  That’s what my initial thoughts were when we were talking about creating this image.  It is slightly different than the idea that the band had come to me with, but adding my experience I suggested some changes to the shoot that would make it better (read more about traits to look for in editorial photographers here.) […]