What Do Commercial Photographers Do, and Why Would My Business Use One?

By Heather Evans

Commercial photography is an area of photography capturing images used to sell, advertise or market a business, a product, a service, a person or persons. Magazines are filled with adverts. Photographic images within these advertisements are commercial photographs. Billboards, packaging, brochures, leaflets and posters all fall under the banner of commercial photography. It’s basically any photograph being used for business, sales and making money.

While the broad definition gives a general outline of the purpose of commercial photography, there are various types of photography within the commercial photography genre that require different types of photography skills.

We’ve put together a useful guide on what commercial photographers do, the different fields of commercial photography, and why your business could benefit from using a commercial photographer.

What do commercial photographers do?

Commercial photography is all about promoting businesses, products and services. Commercial photographers are experts in capturing images of you, your business, your products and services, all in the right way to show off your vision and your sales message in the right way.

Commercial photographers will have an understanding of people and commercial markets, and be able to capture the right image to make an impact. A beautiful image isn’t necessarily a great commercial picture. Exceptional images don’t always get the right response. That is one of the skill sets of the commercial photographer. They will endeavor to understand your brief, your business, your products or services, and your vision to capture an image that will effectively promote you in the right way.

The different areas of commercial photography

There are a number of different niche areas in commercial photography, such as fashion, jewelry, and food. They all require a particular expertise. There are also a wide range of different photography skills required for the different aspects of promoting a business. Here’s a quick overview of some of the main areas of commercial photography.

Product photography

Product photography focuses on sharp images and tells a story. The photographs need to be of a high quality to enable them to be printed in newspaper adverts, brochures and other promotional material. Product photographs will also focus on particular design features to highlight the main selling points.

Portrait photography

Portrait photography has been fashionable since the first cameras were invented. It’s often thought of as being the domain of wedding photographers and those specialising in family photographs, but portrait photography has an important role to play in commercial photography as well.

Some commercial photographers will specialise purely in this area. Portrait photography tends to focus on headshots in the studio with emphasis on the face and expressions, whereas commercial portrait photography tends to be in the working environment. The art is in featuring the business environment in the background to inform the image viewer more about your role.

Event photography

Event photography is an important aspect of commercial projects, generating fresh content for websites and print. From product launches to company celebrations, photographs capturing a snapshot of your business are hugely important.

A commercial photographer will help people to present themselves better, and will have the expertise to capture images to promote your business in a positive light. Event photographs are a part of your ongoing marketing campaign.

Architectural photography

Most businesses will require an image of their offices, factory or business premises. Photographing the built environment is a specialist skill. Don’t be tempted to take a photograph of the premises yourself under the assumption that this is less important. A poor image of your premises will have a detrimental effect.

Promotional material

All businesses need promotional material. Photographs for promotional material will encompass a wide range of different skills, from portraits of the team for the ‘about us’ page on a website, to sharp images of products for billboards and printed advertorial. Everything from leaflets, boardroom books, and business cards, to email marketing campaigns will require images to enhance their effectiveness.

Why your business needs a commercial photographer

Portraying your business in the right way is pivotal to your success. If you think you can skimp on promotional costs and take your own photographs, think again. Professional images will show your business in a professional light.

Some businesses use generic photos for some of their images from online stock photo suppliers, but these don’t capture the essence of your business. While generic images can be used to cut costs, and are useful for fillers, professional images of you, and your business are essential to promote what is unique to you.

Photos for your website are essential and will help customers know you, your team members, and what you are selling. Images are hugely important when it comes to making a first impression. Pictures do after all tell a thousand words. No matter what you are selling, professional images are an important asset.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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