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Commercial and Editorial photography?

Susana Guerreiro , Dec 11, 2008; 06:36 a.m.

I need some help understanding commercial and editorial photography (involving models) but please forgive the dumbness. I think I have a fair decent understanding of commercial and editorial work but not completely sure, especially with editorial. Commercial photography is where you are trying to sell something and editorial features obviously in magazines and would be for example, fashion stories. Is this right?
My main issue, at the moment, is that I have some models contacting me wanting to do some commercial shoots or editorial ones and I have to confess I'm unsure in how to organize the shoot. What would be a correct definition of commercial and editorial and how is this visible in photos. What makes you judge a photo as a good commercial and/ or editorial photo?
Many, many thanks for your patience and help!


Craig Shearman , Dec 11, 2008; 11:31 a.m.

Editorial is a wide ranging category that goes from actual news photos to set-up photos that are shot for the purpose of illustrating an article in a magazine/newspaper. Set-up photos can include fashion, typically models wearing the clothing being written about, or could be a "family" of models around the dining room table with a turkey for a story on Thanksgiving, or just a shot of the person being written about -- a composer at his piano or a writer at his computer or an athelete in front of the stadium, for example. Many setup shots are the same photo regardless of whether they are editorial or commercial/advertising, the only difference being their purpose. The same fashion photo could be used to accompany an article or in an ad, or the turkey dinner shot could go either way. Obviously in an advertising shot you are more concerned about portraying the client's product in a flattering way and not showing the competition's product. In an editorial shoot the emphasis would be on whatever the publication is saying in the story -- maybe Thanksgiving would all be on paper plates and plastic forks if the story was the "easy cleanup Thanksgiving" where as a commercial/ad shoot the emphasis might be on it being a Butterball turkey or that the china be Lenox.

Jeff Spirer , Dec 11, 2008; 12:02 p.m.

Are these portfolio shots that the models want for their book?

Susana Guerreiro , Dec 11, 2008; 01:51 p.m.

Craig, thanks so much for your explanation! It's not far from what I was thinking but I have now a much better understanding of editorial. The examples you gave are very helpful.
Jeff: yes, they say they want commercial type shoots. My first reaction was to email the model back asking: "what will we be selling?" as in my understanding both commercial and editorial photos are "normal" shoots used to sell/promote/tell a story type of thing! But then I doubted myself as I really only started dealing with fashion photography and models 6 months ago.
So , you cannot do a commercial or editorial work without knowing what the theme is! Makes sense.

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