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Is Commercial Photography a Lucrative Career? Let’s Find Out

What exactly is commercial photography? Even the photographers often get confused with the term.  

Commercial photography

In the competitive industry that is filled to the brim with photographers trying to snatch a piece of the client’s cake, commercial photography has an alluring enchantment.

Let’s get super real about what is a commercial photography and how to get a good career in the field. Read more to find out.


What is Commercial Photography? How is it Different From Normal Photography?

Before knowing what is commercial photography, it’s easier to define what isn’t. 

The photos that are taken for personal usage or B2C, where you as a photographer create images that directly gets delivered to the customer without anything in between, isn’t commercial photography.

Like wedding pictures and portraits. Another kind of photography is editorial. Editorial tells Commercial sells, so when you pose a picture for an editorial, it is published in the magazines and newspapers, and it just tells about the person or an item.

Whereas commercial photography is a service.  You, as a photographer, are creating a service given to the B2B  type of service. The clients can look for anything, whether it’s clean and natural, stylized and polished or raw, and gritty. 

It should be persuasive enough to create a mood that sells the product. Well, now, as you know, commercial photography involves taking pictures for commercial purposes  — for example- leaflets, merchandising, and product placements.

You can also see them in corporate brochures, leaflets. Menus in cafes and restaurants, enhancing the item to promote or sell a product or service.


When Did Commercial Photography Begin? Who Made The First Commercial Photographic Process?

The artistry behind the Ad commercial photography didn’t just happen overnight. You must know the history behind it because it is fascinating! 

what is commercial photography

Photographs needn’t be only fine arts to look beautiful; commercial photography can also be beguiling to look at. You might have even admired it on glossy advertisements in magazines mistaking it for fine arts.

Primarily it all began with the daguerreotype as it was the first successful form of photography initiated in 1837. Those days only wealthy and savvy hobbyists had a camera, so it was considered a form of art. 

In 1837 the first successful form of commercial photography was produced. Louis Daguerre went on to develop the first publicly announced and commercially available photographic process.

As the camera became more popular and portable to use, Eastman Kodak Company, now known as Kodak, fought for capturing a future beyond the film. They were the ones who revolutionized the epitome of photography.


Why Choose a Career in Commercial Photography? Are Commercial Photographers in Demand?

As per the reports, the demand and growth for professional photographers are envisaged to remain passive. 

Technological advances to digital photography are expanding the opportunities and challenges for freelance photographers than those in traditional employment. 

Commercial photography is in demand for the corporate world. Professionals with artistic skill and technical knowledge are favoured because of their in-depth demonstrable experience. 

Commercial photographers are in demand because some great photos will help in the promotion of any business. Clients want commercial pictures of themselves in some cases. They are typically used constantly either on small fliers or giant billboards.


Why is Commercial Photography Popular? How Much Do Commercial Photographers Make?

Commercial photography is a photography that is made with the intent of selling and earning a profit. It is mostly for commerce and business. Most of the time it is used as the advertising for the purchaser. 

It’s not just taking photographs to fill money in your pockets; it’s different. Often times it involves a bit more extraordinary planning, professionalism, heaps of paperwork, and of course, headache involved.

Creating visual images that speak to the target audience and aligning the pictures relatively close to the overall branding strategy is a challenging task. Hats why it is so popular that professionals want to dive into it.

Now how much do commercial photographers make?

On average commercial photographers make around $45,633 per year.


How Does Commercial Photography Work? Is There Any Technology Behind It?

Commercial photography is all about boosting business products and services. They are experts in showing off their vision to increase sales in the right way. There are different niche areas to improve your particular expertise.

The key grabbing clients’ attention is to be expertly good at a relevant niche and stick with it. 

Choose something that has a major appeal to the clients. Have a business plan and develop a Facebook page specifically for the business and getting people to share it with prospective customers. 

Of course, the camera is the most important piece of equipment for your tremendous beginning in commercial photography. Look over the job specifics and find out what the client wants. Find and research clients before actually meeting them.

The images must be in such a way that it creates a huge impression as the images are an important asset.

And, yes, there is a huge technology behind it.


What Education Is Needed To Become a Commercial Photographer?

A commercial photographer with his technical expertise, creativity, and skills to produce images that sell a story in the minds of clients is imperative. 

His primary duties are-

  • To market and advertise the services
  • To analyze the composition of photographs
  • Use authentic photographic techniques
  • Capture subjects in an attractive way
  • Enhance the appearance of the image in a natural way, using photo enhancing the software.

Now for the qualifications part, post-secondary education is not required for many photographers. Usually, they look for those applicants who have excellent creative skills and an exceptional eye to click the moment in a beautiful way.

But earning a degree in photography or taking vocational classes in private institutes for the related field is also a good thing and can actually ensure your employment prospects.


What Are The Difference Between Advertising and Commercial Photography?

Most people believe that commercial photography and advertising photography are used interchangeably, but that’s actually far from the truth. If you’re planning to make a career in commercial photography, it’s extremely important to understand the specialties. 

Now, let’s look at both the commercial and advertising photography differing elements. 

Commercial Photography

The basic element of commercial photography is, it is used in retail and wholesale sectors for promotional efforts. Typically the whole photoshoot is devoted to the product being photographed and aligned.

The best example would be stock photos where you browse for a specific product.

Advertising Photography

Advertising photography is all about capturing the intricate minutia of moods, emotions, or feelings that a product can elicit in a viewer. The image is framed in such a way that the overall effect has to seduce and induce the buyer to take action to buy the product.

There is a huge difference in the intent of taking photos; also, the bold colors, multi-faceted lighting, and acute contrasts between the shadows make a distinction too.


How To Shoot Commercial Photography? Is It Easy To Shoot?

93% of the clients and customers consider images as quintessential in purchasing decisions. So a lot is going behind the scenes of capturing a commercial photo.

Let’s look out how commercial photography is done in these simple steps-

1. Set up the background and commercial product.

The background is everything because it simplifies the editing part. Using a white or light-colored backdrop is recommended, as it makes it easier to retouch your images.

2. Get The Lighting Right

If you want an image that is king in quality, then you need the perfect set of lightings. Two options are natural and studio light. If you’re on a tight budget, then use natural light, which is cost-effective and without hassle.

Use studio lights with two softboxes if you are ready to give your image some advanced touches.

3. Use a Tripod

A  decent tripod can last you many years down the line; you will get it under $30. Using a tripod makes your product look crisper.

4. Pick the right camera

The prices of DSLR cameras have come down a lot in recent years as long as you get your lighting and background lighting you can use a smartphone too.

5. Post-process.

Post-processing is basically retouching your images, giving it a more polished and refurbished look.

There are a myriad of photo editing tools available to make your photo editing process much simpler. Pixlr, Cava, Fotor, Snapseed are the recommended ones.


How to Edit Commercial Photography? Are There Any Special Techniques?

There are many editing softwares or choose from. But a couple of them are more recommended than the others. Adobe Photoshop, gimp can be a fair trade-off. 

  1. Cropping is the initial stage in the editing process. 
  2. Colour correction is one of the easiest methods using automatic color correction if at all you’re not satisfied you can return the image to original quality by undoing option.
  3. Level adjustment is the process where the photographer needs to adjust the lighting to make the image enchanting.
  4. Experiment with particular tools is required to know the exact settings changes to enhance the image.
  5. Resize the image prior to saving is the final step. Using editing tools to get this done is very simple.


How to Price Commercial Photography? Are There any Yardsticks?

The key to pricing commercial photography is the amount of time you’ll be spending on the shoot. It includes pre-shoot activities and post-shoot editing, the number of photos your client has requested, your hourly rate, and the intended use of files.


How To Find Commercial Photography Clients? Are There Any Deducted Websites?

Commercial photographer

Spending time getting to know the clients, whether it is through a direct hire or through the website is an exciting thing. You have to go all out on your communication skills and portfolio to display excellent creative content to them.

Let’s take a look at some of which you can do to get the best client’s- 

1. Take a Look At Your Portfolio

If you have photographs that are irresistibly charming and could be used for commercial purposes, then you can use it abound.  Show your clients what you’re capable of.

2. Research Clients in Your Immediate Proximity

Use Google, Yahoo, Bing LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites to find clients for commercial photography.

3. Adopt a marketing strategy

Most photographers think that marketing themselves is a Taboo, but that’s not going to reach a lot of clients, is it? So make a rule that you’re going to get in touch with at least three clients a day.


Bottom Line

In short, you don’t need to be a good photographer to run a successful photography business. Just be good at sales. 

If you’re a good communicator, have a complete set of equipment, know how to light, shoot, and do post-production, you’re good to go. Moreover, technical skills are absolutely vital in this field. 

Ultimately create a picture that is worth selling and which tells the story to empower the brand image.



1. How much money does a commercial photographer make?

A commercial photographer makes $45,633 per year, and if you have more skills, you can earn a lot depending on your skills. Experienced ones can even make a fortune.

2. Which types of photography can be used for commercial purposes?

Headshots. Commercial architectural photography, food photography, product photography, fashion photography are the common types of photographs deployed for commercial purposes.

3. Do commercial photographers need a license?

Yes, commercial photographers need a business license to get started. In the United States, a professional license is not required to run a photography business, but not all jurisdictions can be the same.

4. What is the commercial use of an image?

Commercial images are those images that are available for any sort of “for-profit” or promotional endeavor.

5. Do photographers pay sales taxes?

Photographers are in a different position here as they are selling services here. The photos they deliver to the customer ate considered products in some rare cases. But you have to check with your locality to make sure whether they are legally charging and paying sales tax or not.

Are you excited to start a career in commercial photography? If yes, let us know if this article has helped you in any way in the comment section below.

Ishwar Deep
Ishwar Deephttp://ishwardeep.com
Head of Content @ Whitedust (or, in plain English), I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC.

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