Difference Between Editorial and Commercial Photography

Difference Between Editorial and Commercial Photography

We may find it hard to spot the difference between editorial and commercial photography as a photographer. Yet, it’s an important aspect that every photographer should know.

Could you tell whether a photo of the building is editorial or not? Hence, getting into the differences would let you learn about photography projects.

It would make you well-educated about each genre and be better at both.

Down below, we explore the differences and creative processes of both the photography genres.

Definition of the Editorial and Commercial Photography

Let’s talk about the definition of both photography types. With better definition and meaning, you get to better understand their differences. Both photography types have their specific meaning and purposes. Below we are going to talk about them.


The editorial images get placed just beside the texts in any publication in the short term. In many cases, it might be on its own in a magazine or newspaper to depict a creative concept. One of the examples of editorial photography is that the newspaper might contain buildings or people when talking about a specific location or public place. 


Commercial photography indicates the photos used for products or any business purposes. In general, it takes more setup and costs more. It gets used most of the time for advertising purposes for a specific brand. 

Key Difference Between Editorial and Commercial Photography

Key Difference Between Editorial and Commercial Photography

In the following section, we will talk about the core difference between these two genres of photography. Both of them have different aspects when it comes to budget, goal, client, and so on. Let’s talk about these in detail.

Note: we will talk about editorial images first and then commercial photography. 


The budget for the editorial images is a lot lower than its counterpart. People don’t have to use any model or property release, so it costs a lot lower. Plus, the photographers get a lower per-hour payout as well. As the equipment used is lower, the budget stays in the lower portion.

For commercial photography, the budget is significantly higher. Most of the time, the budget for commercial projects is high-end. As these kinds of projects need high-end skills, the photographer’s payout is bigger than editorial photography. We have a details guide on product photography costs, you can check if your budget is tight and don’t wanna waste your valuable money.


The goal of editorial photography is to narrate a story or complement the texts. Editorial images are created only for magazine or publication readers. On the other hand, publishers can use it to depict or communicate a story or idea.

On the other hand, commercial photography’s goal is to advertise any product or brand’s message. The main audience for any commercial photos is the customers of a specific corporation. We try to communicate the key message about the product abiding by the branding guidelines.


Usage duration of the editorial images is short, and most of the time gets used only once. For example, the image might only get used on a specific publication page. Most likely, the same image would not get used a second time unless the publication mentions the same topic.

Commercial photographs have a higher usage duration compared to editorial ones. Almost all commercial photos get used multiple times across multiple advertising platforms. We get to see several years of usage for a single commercial photo.


When you take editorial photos, you get to place them in your portfolio. Because almost every editorial project lets you place the images. Editorial photos don’t break any rules when placed on the portfolio. 

On the other hand, commercial photography projects don’t let photographers have it on their portfolios. Brands prefer to maintain privacy when it comes to commercial projects as well. But a small portion of the commercial projects offers permission to have it on a photographer’s portfolio.

Usage: Editorial vs Commercial Photography

Usage of editorial and commercial photography can differ a lot. Below we are going over the usage of both of the photography categories. It would provide you with a complete idea of the usage and its industries. 

Editorial Photography

When talking about Editorial photography, it consists of the following usages:

  • Publication

The main usage of editorial photography is newspapers, magazines, or other publications.

  • Blogs 

Blogs and web articles are other great examples of editorial photography usage.

  • Films

You would find many examples of editorial photography and video usage in educational films.

Commercial Photography

These are the main uses of commercial photography, which are crystal for you to know:

  • Marketing Campaigns

Business flyers and brochures use an abundance of commercial photographs alongside the texts. 

  • Product Advertising

We use commercial photos to make them compelling for product advertising.

  • Brand Promotion

Businesses use a lot of commercial photos to improve brand awareness.

  • Commercials Films

Like many corporations, we use commercial photos on commercial documentation, short films, or movies.

Creation Process: Editorial vs Commercial Photography

First, let’s talk about the editorial photography creation process. First, you need to research the project and create an outline. After outlining crucial points, start creating the idea or concept for your editorial photographs. Afterward, create a decent portfolio to show the editorial publisher. 

On the other hand, the commercial photography creation process has a bit more process. For example, you start your research and create a pitch deck at first. You include the budget, mission, and budget within the pitch deck. You have to present it in front of the creative direction of the corporation. 

These are the questions related to the following subject which may help you out. 

You could use the editorial images to support any article or info. Perhaps, it's ideal for getting permission from the photographer before using it on your article or social media. Otherwise, you won't be allowed to use editorial images to promote your brand on social media platforms. 

When considering doing editorial photography, make sure you create a fantastic portfolio. Afterward, start doing some networking with the magazine publications. In the end, you could send some of your portfolios to a magazine to land an editorial photographer job. 

In general, commercial photographs consist of any brand or product. Moreover, you would find several people talking about something or discussing it. Moreover, commercial photographs may feature office environments as well. These are the easiest ways to detect whether a photograph is a commercial. 


Learning the difference between editorial and commercial photography is an easier task. You only have to evaluate some of the key points. It would make your task a lot more seamless. 

In short, both editorial and commercial photography is completely different.

When working on either of the following photography projects, you could prepare yourself better. Make sure you follow the correct creation process. 

As a result, your projects will be successful in both photography genres. Hence, learn the difference and work on your projects accordingly.

Navaho Mizsey

Navaho Mizsey


“Navaho Mizsey is a Content Writer Executive with 5+ years of experience. He is a hardworking and talented writer. He writes what the audience wants to read. He completed his degree in journalism and started his career in content writing. He loves to write about photography, camera, and photographer”

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