Editorial vs. Commercial Use of Photos: Comprehensive Guide

In the world of photography, understanding the distinction between editorial and commercial use of photos is crucial. This knowledge can help you navigate the legalities of image usage, ensure proper attribution, and effectively reach your target audience. This article will delve into the differences between these two types of photography and provide insights on how to use them effectively.

Commercial Photography: Promoting Products and Services

Commercial photographs are primarily used for advertising purposes. They are designed to promote a product, service, or brand. These images are often found in various promotional materials such as brochures, billboards, online advertisements, websites, product packaging, book covers, blogs, and social media posts.

Commercial photographs can be digitally enhanced or manipulated to suit the needs of the post. They are typically devoid of logos or brands to avoid copyright issues. However, if the image includes recognizable people, branded products, or private property, proper legal permission is required to publish it. This is usually facilitated through a property release form exchanged between the client, photographer, and subjects of the image. These forms outline the terms of use and protect the photographer's rights.

Commercial photographs can be leased for a specific period and for specific uses. If you are unsure of the rights granted through a licensing service or agreement, it's advisable to consult with your legal team.

For example, you can find a variety of commercial photos at Dissolve.


Editorial Photography: Telling Stories and Sharing News

Editorial photographs, on the other hand, are used to share a news story or an event. They are typically found in news articles, essays, documentaries, textbooks, and travel pieces. Unlike commercial photos, editorial images can include logos and recognizable people as they are intended for educational use.

Editorial images should only be used in a journalistic way. They typically run alongside written text in publications to help better tell a story and educate readers. They should not be used in conjunction with advertising.

Like commercial photography, the use of an editorial photo often requires a licensing agreement, as the photos are either owned by a publication or specific photographer. These contracts usually allow editorial photos to be licensed for a set use of time.

For example, you can find a variety of editorial photos at Dissolve.


In summary

Both editorial and commercial photographs play a vital role in content creation. They supplement and help tell your story, drawing in audiences and enhancing the overall impact of your content. Understanding the differences between these two types of photography is essential for proper usage and to avoid potential legal issues.

Whether you're a media organization, a marketer, or a content creator, knowing when and how to use commercial and editorial photos can significantly improve your content strategy. Always remember to respect the rights of photographers and subjects, and ensure you have the necessary permissions and licenses before using any photos.

For a wide variety of commercial and editorial photos, consider exploring collections on platforms like Dissolve. Their extensive portfolio can help bring your stories to life through high-quality, impactful images.

Posted by Joe Mak

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