An introduction to editorial fashion photography

Explore the ins and out of editorial photography

Key Takeaways

  1. Explore - Understand how to define editorial fashion photography, its importance in your portfolio, and its creative potential.
  2. Showcase - Use editorial fashion photography to tell a story and focus on creative expression rather than simply selling a product.
  3. Create - Develop a strong concept, work with a talented team, and experiment to create a unique fashion editorial photoshoot showcasing your technical and collaborative skills and understanding of the fashion industry.
  4. Collaborate - Partner with creative professionals who can elevate your ideas and bring your vision to life.
  5. Submit - Share your editorial fashion photography with the world by submitting it to fashion magazines or other publications that match your visual style.
  6. Pitch - Propose an idea for a photo series to a magazine, including a summary of your vision and how it fits their aesthetic and themes.

What is editorial fashion photography?

This highly creative and collaborative form of fashion photography is featured in magazines, newspapers, fashion blogs, and internet media.

Editorial fashion photo of model being splashed with water

The essence of editorial fashion photography is to showcase clothing in a way that tells a story and captures the soul of a brand. “While commercial fashion photography aims to sell a product, editorial fashion photography focuses on artistic expression and capturing a mood or theme,” says fashion photographer Sarah Fountain.


A few notable names who have left their mark on this genre of photography have been Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker and Herb Ritts.

Why is it essential to have editorial work in your fashion photography portfolio?

Publishing your work is a powerful marketing tool that can lead to those important commercial bookings. Photographing an editorial series is a way to tell a cohesive story with striking images while simultaneously building your style and gaining exposure.


Where and how people consume fashion content has changed with the rise of digital media, but fashion magazines still hold an enduring appeal. Many fashion magazines have adapted to the decline of print sales over the years by expanding their online presence and developing mobile apps.


According to Sarah Fountain, “a fashion photography portfolio that includes editorial work will demonstrate your technical and collaborative skills, versatility, and understanding of the fashion industry, which can be valuable in attracting potential clients and building your reputation.”

Tips and tricks for fashion editorial photoshoot (shoots)

Editorial fashion photo of model posing with fabric

Here are some ideas for creating a unique fashion editorial photoshoot:

  • The idea: Start with a strong concept to set your editorial apart. Research different themes, fashion trends, and styles to help inspire your vision. Be open to new ideas and experiences, study art movements and fashion history, observe nature, and explore cultures and subcultures.
  • Understand lighting: Lighting is critical to capturing great fashion shots. Whether shooting indoors or outdoors, consider the natural light available and supplement it with artificial lighting. Experiment with different lighting setups to create exciting effects and highlights.
  • Use unusual props and accessories: Experiment with different props and accessories to create a unique look. Consider using unexpected or unusual objects or combine them in unexpected ways.
  • Play with colours: Colour is an essential aspect of fashion photography. Experiment with different colour palettes and combinations to create a visually stunning editorial.
  • Composition: Pay attention to your shots' composition, balance, and symmetry. Try different angles, framing, and cropping to add depth and interest to the images.
  • Work with a talented team: Collaborate with creative professionals who can elevate your ideas and bring your vision to life.
  • Equipment: Some of the essential pieces of equipment that a fashion photographer may use include a range of cameras, lenses, strobe lights, continuous lights, lighting modifiers, reflectors, lens filters, tripod, computer and editing software and experimental accessories such as mirrors, smoke, prisms, projectors, coloured gels and more.
  • Shoot in RAW format: Shooting in RAW format will allow for more flexibility during post-processing, which is particularly important for creating an artistic look. RAW files contain all the data captured by the camera's sensor so you can adjust exposure, white balance, and other settings without losing image quality.
  • Use manual mode: Shooting in manual mode will allow greater control over the exposure and creative effects.
  • Experiment with your camera settings: Use the project as an opportunity to experiment with your camera settings, such as long exposures, multiple exposures and lens distortion.
  • Think outside the box: Be bold and try something new or push the boundaries of traditional photography. Consider incorporating elements from other genres, such as fine art or film.

The go-to process for creating a fashion photography editorial

Editorial fashion photo of model posing
Editorial fashion photo of model posing

In the highly competitive and fast-paced world of fashion photography, successful collaboration is crucial for producing standout editorials and building a good reputation in the industry.


You can create memorable editorial fashion photography that meets your artistic vision by creating a strong concept, sourcing the right team and working closely with them throughout the process.


This creative team may include the fashion stylist, model, hair and makeup artist, assistant, digital operator, and a set designer or set stylist. Here are the steps to create a fashion photography editorial.


  1. Concept development: Work with the creative team to develop a concept for the shoot. This includes determining the overall vision, location, styling, and shot list.
  2. Pre-production: Organise the elements required for the shoot, including location scouting, booking models, finalising the styling and wardrobe, lighting and equipment, and creating a detailed timeline for the shoot day.
  3. Production: On the shoot day, work with the team to ensure that lighting, wardrobe, and other details are executed as planned. Produce enough final images to fill a 6-8 double-page spread story. The photos must show consistency, but the narrative does not need to be linear.
    "I like to create an environment that fosters creativity in the studio by setting the right mood with music, removing distractions, allowing for experimentation and flexibility, and encouraging the team to bounce ideas off of one another and provide feedback," says fashion photographer Sarah Fountain.
  4. Post-production: Select the final images that work together as a cohesive narrative and begin editing and retouching them using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
    Lightroom allows photographers to adjust multiple images simultaneously which reduces editing time and streamlines workflow. Combining Lightroom's organisational and processing capabilities with Photoshop's advanced editing tools and features can help photographers produce professional-quality photos quickly and easily.
Before fashion photography image of model in red dress posing
After fashion photography image of model edited using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

5. Submission: After finalising the photos, they can be submitted to fashion magazines or other publications for consideration. This may involve sending a pitch or completed editorial to the magazine or publication.

How to get your work published.

Submissions and pitches are two ways to present your work to a fashion magazine or publication. A submission involves sending a completed photo series with the hope of having it published. When researching magazines to submit your work to, you will have the most success by approaching publications with a similar aesthetic to your visual style.


It is essential to read the submission guidelines that most submission-based magazines will list on their website before sending your work to the editor. Pay attention to the themes various magazines may mention regarding their upcoming publications.


A pitch, on the other hand, is when you propose an idea for a photo series to a magazine to create the content if they are interested. A pitch usually includes a summary of your vision, your intended angle or approach, and some samples of your work that demonstrate your style and skills.


If the magazine likes your concept, they may commission you to create the content for them.

Editorial fashion image of woman

"Focus on concepts you are personally interested in when presenting ideas to magazines. It will show in your pitch and final images if the inspiration comes from an authentic place," says Sarah.


With the rise of social media, editors and agents are no longer the gatekeepers of the fashion world. Remember to consider the power of publishing your work online and on social platforms. Many major publications and high-end fashion labels have discovered talent to hire via these channels.


Creating albums using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a simple and convenient way to organise and share your photos with others while also allowing you to maintain control over your sharing settings and keep your portfolio up-to-date.

Let your photographs tell your story today.

Producing fashion editorials can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for photographers passionate about their craft and dedicated to making creative, visually stunning, and emotionally impactful work.


Editorial fashion photography is a way to create visual stories that convey a powerful message or feeling and allows photographers to connect with their audience on a deeper level.


"Nothing stops you from getting online or networking to find like-minded creatives to collaborate with today. Be intentional with what you want to produce, who you want to go on your journey with and where you would like to go," says photographer Sarah Fountain.


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