What Kind of Photographer Are You?

Just a quick note that will hopefully clarify something for my fellow photographers:

I once heard a photographer say they were going on an editorial shoot, but it wasn’t being published. Another organized a “photojournalism” shoot, but the very act of staging it takes out the “journalism” part.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) says there are three main categories of photography. They are: Commercial, Editorial and Retail. Commercial photography is used to sell a product or service. Editorial is for education or journalism and retail is for personal use.

So let’s say you get hired by a local business to take pictures for their website; that’s commercial. Shooting something for a magazine? Editorial (unless its selling something which is commercial). Wedding photography or portraits fall under retail.

This is where licensing your work (aka, getting a signed contract) becomes so important. You see,  the categories are not mutually exclusive. Let’s say, for example that you shoot a wedding (retail). Then, you submit an image to a wedding magazine (editorial). After running it, the dress designer decides they want to use it in an ad (commercial). Can you say “pay day”? By licensing your work you can make money each time the image is used, charging different amounts for each license.

By the way, “photojournalism”,which falls under editorial, means to observe and document an event without interfering. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when it’s misused having spent the majority of my adult life in that field.

Another pet peeve of mine is when someone photographs a “trash the dress” shoot and the dress is not actually trashed. I’m just sayin’.

Ok, got that off my chest. 🙂 Here are some reading suggestions:

ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition

Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition

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