Editorial images – what sells

The basics
The key to increase sales of editorial images is to understand the different categories and uses of such images. An editorial photo is a photo accompanying an editorial article. They can’t be used for commercial purposes (though you can argue that a newspaper uses it commercially to sell more papers). Since they can’t be used commercially, editorial photos can depict logos, copyrighted material and people/property without a model/property release. The publication is required to use the image in a fitting context.

A good starting-point is to divide editorial photos into three main categories:

A. News
B. People and places
C. Editorial stock

News photography is pretty self-explanatory. This is newsworthy events. These images are extremely time-sensitive – upload them as fast as possible to secure sales. Think about what kind of events that are newsworthy and interesting for publications to write about.

People and Places
This category is basically famous people and famous places. It includes photos of people at events that are or have been newsworthy. A good tip is to try to capture interesting facial expressions at rather boring events. A good shot of a politician expressing a feeling at a convention can be used many times over by a wide range of publications. When photographing places, try to capture famous buildings, streets and landmarks, and – if possible – try to do it with a creative twist. Just don’t overdo it ;)

Barack Obama
A good example of a photo of Barack Obama which
has potential for sales over a prolonged period.
Dersankt / YAY

John McCain
Photo: JrnGeeraert / YAY
John Mccain with a nice twist and a clear message.

Editorial Stock
Editorial stock is, quite probably, the most ill-defined and undervalued form of editorial photography. These are images the news agencies have a rather limited selection of and the potential for sale is large. They are not nearly as time-sensitive as news-images. Editorial stock includes several sub-categories: Images of logos and brands in different settings and images of people using different (branded) products. Examples could include: Photos of large outdoor signs of multinational companies, photos of people shopping at well-known stores, (overweight) people drinking soda from a specific brand etc.

Photo: kjellesvig / YAY
Typical editorial-stock which exemplifies issues with Google
and privacy issues

What to remember
Think about the following :

A. What kind of images do newspapers/magazines/websites print?
B. What news are recurring? What will be in the news the next months?
C. What people (celebrities or semi-celebrities) might someone need a photo of?

Description and keywords
The description should be more specified on editorial images than on creative stock. The major news agencies write a quite detailed description on every image they distribute. It is, in fact, so detailed that the journalists can get most of the information they need for an article from the metadata in the image. Always include where the photo was taken, the name of the event, names of all people depicted and other relevant information. Try to be as exact as possible. An editorial image with a missing or bad description is basically worthless, since the usage is based on context and if you don’t know the context you can’t use it.


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