This is an editorial portrait. It is specifically for a regional magazine and it is all yours creatively.

This is far more of a challenge than it may seem at the first moment of excitement when the Art Director tells you that the advertorial will be running three pages in four different magazines, and your shot will be opening up the three pages… and they want you to do something creative.

“Hello, this is Don.”

“Hey Don, this is Art D’Recteur from Eezy Peezy Advertising. We have been getting your emails and direct mail consistently for the last year and we think we may have a shot for you.”

“Cool, Art. Nice to talk to you. What is the time frame for the assignment?” Might as well find out if it fits in your schedule now.

“We have about a three-week window, and we need you to handle it there locally since we do not have an office in your town.”

“Yeah, I can do it in the next three weeks… what are the deets?”

All the details of what they need and where to send the images and of course the fee structure are worked out and then this bombshell…

“Don, we need for you to do something really cool with this shot. It is very important to our client, but honestly not being there makes doing the creative a bit more challenging. We know you can do the creative – we really love the GLOCAS category on your website.” (heh)

So it is up to you.

The article is about a charity who chooses a spokesperson once per year for their promotional work. This time they chose someone from your town because they did something so amazing.

Who that is and what they did is your call… you explain to us what they did and why they are a hero by SHOWING us in the image. This is an image that is all about context. Context is what else is in the photograph to tell us what and who we are seeing in the image.

So we need to think about visual clues, props, body language, lighting, and composition. We use those cues to develop the context of the work.

Here are some reading resources.

Visual Metaphors

Some GOOGLE images to review… not all are representative, but many are.

A shoot dissected by Zack Arias.

Ideas for shooting an editorial portrait.

Here are a few points that I want you to consider:

  • Understand exactly what you want to say about the person you are photographing. Meet them beforehand if you can. If you cannot, then make sure you research as much as you possibly can before the shoot. This information will be instrumental in creating an image that shows context.
  • Think about body language… Pride has a different body stance than contrition. Power is a set of poses that are not easily confused with submission. We KNOW this stuff in our minds, and we have got to get that knowledge into the photograph.
  • Shadows. They can be a metaphorical tool or simply something to set a highlight against. Think of how people use the words and ideas of shadow when you are planning your photo.
  • Light… the use of light is a metaphor that reaches all the way back to early Renaissance art. Flare “means” something. Light shafts can make the image represent a context that may not have been present in the natural space. And if you choose to use light shafts, do you do them “in camera” or do them later in post?
  • Context will show us exactly who that person in the photograph is, and it will help explain the text that accompanies it.

A few examples that I really like:

And here are the vital specifics:

Vertical image, in color, and full frame – no cropping from the image you shoot. Be careful NOT to shoot it so tight that it cannot be used for a magazine page – in other words… compose and take a step back.

And off you go.