All About Editorial Use Images

About Editorial Use Images

Certain images at Bigstock are designated for ‘Editorial Use Only’. These are intended for editorial purposes such as news reporting, criticism or commentary on the subject of the image, and parody.  Common examples of newsworthy editorial images are: a parade, a speech by a public figure, a crowd outside a high profile trial, a political demonstration, a celebrity sighting, and sports or entertainment events at which photography is allowed with proper credentials so that no model or property release will be obtained.  Basically anything you would see in the newspaper that isn't endorsing a product or service. The purpose of editorial imagery is to educate and inform and to document subject matter that has some kind of historical significance.  These images are usually not cleared for commercial use. Editorial images cannot be used for commercial, trade, promotional and advertising uses. For a detailed explanation, please read our Image Usage Agreement.


  • Only certain kinds of images are appropriate for Editorial Use.
  • A Contributor does not need to upload a model release for an Editorial Use image.
  • An Editorial Use Image should include a specific subject that could illustrate a news story or piece of commentary.
  • Without a proper caption/description, newsworthy editorial images will not be approved.
  • A studio shoot for which a Contributor lacks a model releases is not acceptable.
  • Images of non-newsworthy events will be declined if submitted for editorial use.  This will affect a contributor’s Approval Rating!
  • Aside from slight cropping, Editorial images should never be digitally altered. Elements should never be added or removed and the “message” of the image must not be changed.



Captions - Information for Contributors

For a newsworthy editorial image to have any long term value, the image must have a description that is formatted in a specific way and include basic identifiers such as: Who, What, Where & When. If you are submitting editorial images, you will need to designate the content for ‘Editorial Use’ after uploading and provide each image with a caption in the standard editorial format.

Below are the required guidelines of how an editorial caption needs to be structured.  This information will be entered in the Description field before you submit each image for review - please pay special attention to formatting, phrasing, capital letters, and punctuation. The structure of an editorial caption is:

CITY, STATE/COUNTRY – MONTH DAY: Factual description of the image content on [date] in [location]. A qualifying newsworthy second sentence (if necessary).



The dateline includes the location and date. It always comes before the caption/description and is in written in capital letters.  For images taken in any 'major' city in the world such as Los Angeles, New York, or London, you do not need the state/country identifier in the dateline, but you should include this in the caption.




The dateline is followed by the caption/description of the event. This is the Who, What, Where & When that the image illustrates. Just explain what is going on in the image. Simply write the facts. If the photo depicts people, start by identifying the subject(s) with the person’s/people’s name(s), and describe what they are doing. Be sure to describe the action in the active present tense. When writing, be Concise, Factual, and remember:  Accuracy is important. Please keep it under 200 characters (including spaces).

EXAMPLE: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.


Combine the Dateline and Caption

This is what the completed, proper editorial caption would look like:

JACKSON, NJ - JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Jackson, NJ.
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

Editorial images of children

Editorial images of children, like all editorial images, need to be newsworthy (specifically of domestic or international importance). Please follow the caption examples cited above but due to the sensitive nature of photographing children, provide the name, age, and general area of residence for all children in the image.  One caption/description example of an image of a child that may be newsworthy:

CHARLOTTE - JUNE 16: John Doe, 8, from Charlotte, N.C., cools off in a spray of mist at the zoo on June 16, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Temperatures recently went into the triple digits.


If the exact date of the event is not known, "circa" may be used to indicate that the date is around the "circa" year given within the dateline and caption areas. An example would be:

LOS ANGELES - CIRCA JUNE 2008: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure circa June 2008 in Los Angeles, California.



Preparing Editorial Images for Submission  

When working on the technical quality of an editorial image, you should make the exposure, contrast, and white balance as faithful as possible to the original scene.

DO NOT digitally alter the content of your photograph with filters, tools, or digital elements. You cannot cut or smudge/blur an object that was present when the image was taken. Current industry standards for editorial imagery allows only what you could do in a darkroom. This includes slight adjustments to brighten or darken and cropping the size or frame of the image.

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