Broadly speaking there are two types of photographs used in publications of different kinds. They are called creative and editorial.
Creative images require model releases. This means that suppose you have hired a model to do a photoshoot for your publication, you asked him to stand in a particular way with a coffee cup in his hand and then photographed him; then you will require his written permission to use his photo in your publication.
The form that he will sign for you is known as a model release form.
Editorial images on the other hand do not require model releases from the people being photographed. One example of such images is when photographers or journalists photograph people randomly on the streets
So if you see a man in a café sipping his coffee, and you took a snap of him for the purpose of being published in the morning newspaper, you don’t normally need his written permission for that.
There is no grand guide which has laid down the rules for editorial images. Different publications have different norms for what they consider acceptable editorial guidelines. You should refer to them before submitting an image.
But still there are some common traits between them.
Normally the following types of images constitute editorial images.
Photographs of something happening that will constitute news, such as a public speech, a press conference, a business tycoon’s marriage, or a natural disaster, are acceptable forms of editorial images.
Photos of sports and sports figures are usually acceptable for editorial use.
Professional photos of performers like singers, dancers, pianists, etc. are suitable for editorial use.
Photos of celebrities at public events, such as “red carpet” areas, are normally acceptable.
You can check out Depositphotos’ editorial collection on celebrities to understand what I mean.
What is not acceptable
After telling you what is acceptable in editorial usage I must now step back and also tell you what is not acceptable.
Images of little-known people, scenes which are not newsworthy, or studio images you shot without getting the proper releases, are likely to be rejected and should not be submittedin the editorial section of any publication.
You also should not alter or edit photos you upload for editorial use. Editorial buyers assume these images to reveal what actually happened in front of the camera, so heavy tonal adjustments and any removing or cloning of elements is unacceptable.
Remember this much, at least. The golden rule of editorial imagery is that you cannot use them to make money — so if you want to use them for advertising, marketing, a promotional or otherwise commercial venture, editorial guidelines forbid you from doing that.
I don’t deny there will be grey areas.
For example if you sell a photograph to a newspaper, is it now considered a commercial use since you will be paid by the newspaper and hence there will be a commercial gain?
In such cases you should seek out the in-charge in the concerned department of the publication.
Do drop in a comment below letting me what you think about this article.