By Lea Hartman on | No Comments
I didn't start off in photography as an editorial photographer. In fact, I didn't even know what editorial photography was.
Like many of you, I began as a residential portrait photographer. It seems to be the natural ground zero. We pick up a camera, begin learning and flow right into photographing our family and loved ones; which more often than not, turns into photographing other people’s loved ones.
I liked learning new skills, seeing my photography improve and there was definitely a spark there, but I’d be lying if I said I was in love with it and it filled my heart with joy. Don’t get me wrong! I enjoyed photographing my clients and I was pleased with my work, but I was missing something integral.
I just didn’t know what it was at the time. How could I? How can you recognize something you’ve never experienced?
And so, I plodded along in the portrait world for years. I tried focusing on different subjects or styles within that category: families, children, women, lifestyle, etc. Nothing offered me that missing piece that I couldn’t put my finger on.
On top of that, I had a really hard time putting all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. In other words, I got bored photographing the same genre over and over again. My peers would talk about their passion for photography and I always wondered what they meant. I loved photographs, always had, but I wasn’t passionate about actually taking these pictures.
About two years into my business, I booked a session with a mama and her two boys. Her youngest was about to turn one and she wanted pictures to mark the milestone. It was to be a normal family session for me. I had settled into a lifestyle type approach to my work. Not fully traditional but not fully candid either.
She opened her bright orange door and her Jamaican accent was just as vibrant as the content of her home. Everywhere I looked there were colors and textures and patterns. And yet, everything was beautifully coordinated, harmonizing perfectly.
I photographed her adorable baby and his handsome big brother and I made sure she got in the pictures as well. But I also photographed some of her nursery decor, without being asked. That room was so beautiful, it deserved a picture of its own.
I was more excited than I’d ever been to come home and pour over the images in post processing! But it wasn’t the people I was excited about - it was the space. And just like that, I’d discovered my missing piece.
For the last five years, I’ve worked with my Jamaican friend on a regular basis. She inspired me and gave me the confidence to branch out and try new things. Creative collaboration with her sustained me through what I had come to view as my mundane portrait sessions.
With her, no longer was I just showing up and documenting a family in action. Now, I was helping to create the scene.
Everything I shot for her was specifically for publication, either on her own popular blog or to one of the various outlets she submitted them to. I didn’t know what this type of work was called, but I knew I loved it.
Sometimes, I photographed her home; always a different space, a different design aspect that had been updated or changed; sometimes, I photographed her and her family so that her readers could get a glimpse into her daily life.
These collaborations have landed me in publication with HGTV, Home Depot, West Elm and Design*Sponge, to name a few. Last year, my images were also published in an interior design book which wound up being a best seller on Amazon.
It took a few years but I realized the genre I loved but couldn’t define was editorial photography: ed·i·to·ri·al / adjective / relating to the commissioning or preparing of material for publication.
To make it simple, just about every image you see in a magazine article is considered editorial photography. Some are portraits, some are interiors, sometimes the images are neither; but all of it was shot with the purpose of publication. And I found this type of photography was a perfect fit for me.
The constant change, creativity and collaboration was just what I needed to ignite the spark I’d been trying to fan into a flame since I picked up my first DSLR in 2009.
I continued shooting both editorial work and portraits in tandem for several years. Gradually, the balance of images I shot began to lean heavily toward editorial and finally, in 2017, I decided to take some much needed time off to refocus, recharge and re-launch. This time, as strictly an Editorial Photographer.
The lesson to be learned here, is that if you’re not excited about what you’re shooting, then I would highly encourage you to do a reevaluation of your own interests to discover what type of photography ignites your spark. Trust me, it will be worth it!
Do you have any questions or comments about Editorial Photography? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Lea is a self taught natural light photographer currently based out of North Carolina. Happily married for 14 years, she and her lover boy are raising three crazy kids wherever the army sends them. She's addicted to coffee, jamberry and her dog, Huxley.