10 Tips to Better Editorial Photography
Being a photographer for multiple magazines over the past 16 years and then going to none for a short time made me hunger to shoot editorial work for a magazine again. Then I was contacted by Mt. Saint Mary's University to photograph their Alumni magazine. It is published bi-annually and discusses not only what's going on currently at the school, but it also focuses on great things alumni are doing for themselves and in their community.
Now that I'm back in the swing of shooting for some editorial sections, I wanted to share a few tips of things I had remembered when I got back into it and other things that just help to make the days of shooting go that much more smoothly.
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
If you don't have a plan going into an editorial shoot or you are walking in blind, you may not get photos that mesh well with the story being written. If you have the opportunity to photograph after the writer interviewed the person or can give you a sense of what the article is about, you have a much better chance of getting photos that will make people better understand the story they are reading.
2. Roll With It
After I just got done saying to have a plan going in, sometimes things don't work out how you'd like them to go. At that point, it's best to not get frustrated, and just keep looking around for another shot or idea. The cover photo below was a last second shot I did as we were leaving the office where we did this photoshoot. We were literally walking out, I stopped and said, can we take one quick photo here? My art director and the subject were both like, "Sure." I snapped off about 10 photos and we continued on our way. As you can see, it turned out to be the cover shot!
3. Equipment Prep
After all of your planning, be sure to bring all of the equipment you think you'll need, and then some! Always be prepared for just a bit more. You never know when you're going to need a tripod, extra light or extra reflector! Also, you may be shooting in different locations and conditions may be different for each scenario.
Pay attention to the weather!!! Don't ever depend on Mother Nature! That is something I always consider. She is a fickle crazy one who can change on you at the drop of a dime! It's great to be able to shoot quickly without having to set up lights, but never trust her!
Bring some snacks, and while you're at it, bring liquids!! I suggest Snickers and water! The Snickers have sugar and protein to keep you going and the water will keep you hydrated. Also, Snickers = Chocolate!!
6. Keep your eyes up
As I mentioned before, plans change and the photo you think you might want in your head doesn't work great. So, keep your eyes peeled for other options and locations where you might be able to tell your story.
7. Tell A Story
You are in essence telling a visual story. Keep in mind that most people are compelled to read something in an editorial fashion my first looking at compelling photos and then deciding that they need to find out more about the subject. Try to tell a story with your photos by photographing action or in a location that compliments a part of the story.
8. Bring Help
You won't have an art director or stylist on every shoot, but you need to have someone assist you if you want to keep on track and get all of the photos you need to tell the story. You will inevitably gloss over something you needed and it's a good idea to have someone helping you keep on track.
9. Scout Locations
If you can, I always suggest scouting locations! It will make things go a lot more smoothly. If you can't scout in person, have someone try taking a few cell phone photos of the location or use Google maps if it's an outdoor shoot. Do whatever you can to be the most prepared for anything.
10. Extra, Extra!
Always take extra shots, of people of objects, of whatever you can around you. You never know what they might be used for that is included in the story. Below I snapped a few portraits of these athletes because I thought they looked pretty cool, and they ended up mentioning them on the page.