The definition of editorial photography is even more confusing than it is for fashion photography.
One try is to explain editorial photography as the photography that appears in newspapers and magazines that is not advertising photography which means it is financed by the newspaper or magazine, but not by their advertisers. But “financing” isn’t always clear especially in fashion editorial photography. The photographer, models and other staff often work for free to get published and collect tear sheets. The designers give their clothes for free, but want to be mentioned in the text. This could be considered as advertising, right?
Some people say editorial photography is the type of photography that supports the printed word, i.e. in the magazines as part of a feature, seperate from the “hard news”. Most fashion editorials in magazines don’t have text other than the credits. So shouldn’t they considered as editorials?
The editorial photographers organization in California give an explanation from a market perspective:
“Editorial refers to the market where the images will be used – primarily books, magazines, and newspapers – and, to a lesser extent, to the style of photography that appears in these venues. We use the term editorial to distinguish it from other markets like corporate, advertising, general commercial, or fine art. Most editorial outlets offer a fair amount of creative freedom, but also extremely low budgets compared to other venues.”
(Source: FAQ from the EP’s website)