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What are Editorial Images?

Editorial images illustrate and reflect the issues, themes, and events (both big and small) of our world today.

The people and things in these images are not released. For that reason, they cannot be used to sell anything. Editorial imagery is for non-commercial, non-promotional use only.

Editorial images portray specific people, places, things and events that provide context for newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, websites and other non-commercial presentations.

Every image from iStock can be used for editorial purposes under the standard content license. The difference with editorial images is that they can only be used in this way.

Creative Editorial

The image on the left was produced and staged by the photographer for commercial stock purposes. The teenagers are all models who have given written consent for their likeness to be used in commercial photography. When you download this image from iStock, it comes with our standard content license agreement, which allows you to use it for advertising or promotional purposes. We sometimes refer to these images as 'Creative' stock. Most of the images at iStockphoto fall into this category.

The image on the right is an unreleased editorial image. These people have not given permission for any commercial use of their license. Editorial use allows you to put this picture in a magazine article or blog post for illustrative purposes or to provide context, but you cannot use the image to sell anything.

How Can I Use Editorial Images?

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, you’re out of luck (though, we would like you to consider using one of the millions of non-editorial images we offer).

Here are some examples of acceptable versus unacceptable uses of the same types of editorial images.

Acceptable Use

  • Using an image of an iPad 2 for a newspaper or magazine article you’re writing about hot new tech.
  • Illustrating an entry in your basketball blog with a photo of an official NBA basketball.
  • Inserting a picture of Piccadilly Circus for your PowerPoint presentation on London’s retail scene.

Unacceptable Use

  • Using an image of an iPad 2 in a web banner to promote your magazine’s digital edition.
  • Illustrating a pamphlet for your basketball camp with a photo of an official NBA basketball.
  • Inserting a picture of Piccadilly Circus in a trade magazine advertorial about your company’s expanded UK presence.

As stated above, you cannot use an editorial image for any advertising, marketing or promotional material, nor can you use them for any “advertorial” purposes (i.e., using them in sections or supplements for which you receive pay or a fee).

An Editorial image can be used:

An Editorial image cannot be used:

In a newspaper or magazine article In any kind of advertising or promotional material
In a text or book (but not to promote the text or book) Commercial brochures, collateral or other printed material
On a blog or website for descriptive purposes Commercial websites
Film or video documentaries and/or broadcast news Product packaging
In a non-commercial presentation Television commercials
For any 'advertorial' purposes. ie: in sections or supplements for which you receive a fee from a third party advisor or sponsor

Why Use Editorial Images?

Because our editorial images are unaltered and unedited (only moderate level and color corrections are permitted), you get a powerful tool for telling your story with specific visual examples instead of generic images.

With a library of thousands of branded product shots (including the latest tech gadgets and vehicles), images of recognizable buildings and landmarks, location-specific travel images and social photos that tell stories about the world around us, iStock gives you technically sound, relevant images that always adhere to our exacting standards.

How Do I Find Editorial Images?

Our Editorial home pages features the latest uploads, editors picks, and curated lightboxes on featured topics.

Editorial Use Only images will show up in standard search results, clearly distinguished with red text and a red newspaper icon.

In the unlikely situation that you miss the red text in the search results, you’ll see it again on the file thumbnail (along with an editorial specific watermark) as well as at the top of the file close up page.

You can also limit your search to our editorial collection by selecting “Editorial” under the License Type filter on the search results page.

To exclude the editorial collection from your search, you can either select the “Creative” filter or permanently exclude editorial-use-only images from your searches by selecting “Always Exclude Editorial” from your Display Settings at the bottom of the search results page.


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