If you love using images to tell a story, you might be interested in becoming an editorial photographer.
So what camera gear do you need?
That’s one of the big questions. How about getting a sneak peek inside the camera bags of some professional editorial photographers so you can get a head start?
Learning about what equipment other photographers use and why is always a helpful exercise.
When it comes to editorial photography, the gear you need will depend a lot on the types of stories you’re shooting.
Editorial is a broad category. Ultimately you can define it as any imagery that supports a story (photos that go alongside an article in a newspaper, for example) or that tell a story themselves (like a photo-only fashion spread in the middle of Vogue magazine).
Because of that, editorial photographers might be shooting out in the street, at an event, on location or in a studio. Each job is unique.
It’s worth noting here the difference between editorial photography and commercial photography. Imagine a mouthwatering photo of a restaurant meal. If the photo runs alongside a review of the restaurant in a magazine, it’s editorial. If it’s being used in an advertisement for the restaurant, it’s commercial.
Editorial photography tells a story; commercial photography sells.
As for the gear: even within the sub-categories of editorial photography, equipment will vary greatly from one photographer to another. Think about fashion editorial, for example: there are so many different moods and styles.
One photographer might shoot only in studio using a DSLR with lots of artificial lighting and off-camera flash. Another might shoot outdoors in natural light using a vintage film camera.
Depending on the personal style you want to develop, you’ll need different gear. Though at the same time, working within the confinements of the gear you have (or can get) can also be a great way to develop your style organically.
Editorial photography also overlaps with other genres. Some editorials feature still life. Some require photographing models, others “real” people.
Taking a look at the kits of the photographers featured above, you can get an idea of what gear is required for particular styles and scenarios.
Fashion editorial photographers, for example, often get creative with extras like strobes, colour gels, filters and light reflectors.
Some prefer to cover all their bases with a range of zoom lenses; others prefer to stick to primes.
Another important part of editorial photography to think about is developing concepts and then bringing them to life.
If you’re doing an editorial photoshoot, what team will you need to work with? What styling and props, locations and backdrops?
What’s the story you want to tell, and how can you get it to come across in your images?
Post-production might figure heavily into this. With editorial shoots – especially fashion editorial – you have the opportunity to really be creative and blend fantasy with reality.
A good grasp of editing tools like Photoshop can help with this.
As with any genre, creating exceptional editorial images comes down to both having the right tools and knowing how to use them. Gear isn’t everything – but it’s a great place to start.