What is commercial photography? If you’re serious about pursuing a profession as a photographer, you’ve certainly invested some time creating an online portfolio and thinking about the various photographic specializations you can pursue.
One of the best things about becoming a photographer is that you may try your hand in various industries, depending on your abilities, interests, and personality. For instance, nature-loving introverts might be drawn to landscape and nature photography, whereas extroverts who enjoy large crowds might choose wedding or event photography.
Commercial photography is a well-liked and frequently well-paid subgenre of photography. If you’re unsure whether this is the appropriate expertise for you, you’ll have all of your most pressing inquiries regarding what goes into creating a commercial photography portfolio addressed by the end of this article.
What is Commercial Photography?
As a commercial photographer, you will capture images of people or objects for use in marketing a good or service. This might take many different forms. For example, you might photograph fashion models wearing high-end clothing for an advertisement, a person using a computer to offer a service or anything else that might display on a company website, book, or advertisement.
The definition of commercial photography is somewhat complex. Some would argue that it solely relates to photography for advertisements, but others would argue that it includes catalog and e-commerce photography.
How can you determine if you are taking photos for a living then? A brand or business typically hires a commercial photographer to market its goods or services. Take Ansel Adams as an illustration. He is a landscape photographer, as most people would assume. But it would be more correct to refer to him as a commercial photographer while working for the Department of the Interior to take pictures of national parks for promotional purposes.
The purpose of the shot is primarily what distinguishes commercial photography from other genres. Adams typically took pictures to record and preserve the splendor of nature in undeveloped areas. However, those national park images aimed to market entrance tickets to tourists.
Various Forms Of Commercial Photography
Fashion photography is used to display goods relating to fashion or clothing meant to be purchased. The goal of portrait photography is to reveal the character of an individual or group of individuals. Product photography involves pictures of goods or services to post on websites and social media platforms to increase sales. In the field of food photography, appealing food images are produced to attract viewers. The goal of the photography genre known as “architecture photography” is to take pictures of buildings or other structures.
In lifestyle photography, a picture is taken displaying a good or service frequently incorporated into the subject’s lifestyle. A real estate photographer produces an eye-catching representation of homes and interiors. A headshot is a formal snapshot that shows the subject’s face from the shoulders up. Photos of goods or services are taken for advertising reasons by advertising photographers. As a result, it appears in product catalogs, billboards, posters, magazine pages, and more.
Tools for Commercial Photography
Because it might vary from project to project, it’s difficult to compile a list of the equipment used in commercial photography. You might work out of a posh hotel resort beside the pool one week and a studio with all the needed lights and backdrops the following.
You must use professional-grade, high-quality cameras and lenses to complete the task; that much is certain. The better the sensor, the higher the quality. It should be able to take clear pictures over a large frame that can be printed onto a potentially enormous canvas.
You also need a skilled graphic artist on your team or good retouching talents yourself. Although it may not technically be “equipment,” this is a requirement for commercial shoots. You should polish and clean everything, and you will frequently need to do things like eliminate reflections, adjust the shape or color of objects, and smooth skin. Photoshopping abilities at the entry level won’t cut it.
What Exactly Does a Commercial Photographer Do?
You can consider regularly doing many things regardless of the type of clients you work with, even if a commercial photographer’s day-to-day routine will vary depending on their expertise and the industries they operate in. These consist of:
Offering a client
Building a client list is something you’ll undoubtedly be doing frequently as a commercial photographer, and we’ll go into more detail on how to attract those fantastic commercial clients you’ve always wanted. You should prepare to spend time routinely pitching potential clients, whether you’re responding to RFPs or cold-calling companies you want to work with.
Make a Lot of Inquiries
As a commercial photographer, your chances of success increase the more you comprehend your client, their products, and their objectives. Take the time to clearly understand the client’s vision for their commercial photos once you’ve attracted them as a client. You could wish to create a survey that you distribute to your clients before each job begins. It should include details such as where the pictures will be used, examples of reference or inspiration pictures the client loves, what their objectives are for the project or campaign the pictures will be used for, and what reaction they want viewers to have to the pictures, and other details of this nature.
Thinking Different Concepts
Even though your client may occasionally provide explicit and detailed creative direction, you’ll frequently be the creative force behind your commercial work. For instance, you might be in charge of creating the mood of the photoshoot and a variety of visual concepts for the client to choose from if a new restaurant contacts you to take photos for a forthcoming campaign and your area of expertise is food photography.
It’s necessary to always bear in mind that the objective is to sell a product when producing the greatest images for your commercial clients. Your approach to the shoot will be influenced by how well you understand your client’s objectives. For instance, you might take some time to set up the ideal lighting in the studio if your customer requests a particularly polished, high-end look for their product pictures. On the other hand, you’ll probably be outside trying to get that ideal golden hour glow if they want natural-looking lifestyle shots for their outdoor wear brand.
Once more, how much time you spend in Photoshop, Lightroom, or another photo editor will depend on the style your customer wants and where the photographs will be used. Commercial images intended for Instagram might not need as much retouching as those intended for print. Nevertheless, since business photography aims to increase profits for your clients, it’s crucial for commercial photographers to ensure the quality of the finished result. Presets can be used to speed up this process, or you can create your own to make it easier to create your unique look repeatedly.
A client proofing gallery is a useful tool for this level of client collaboration. Whether you already have a portfolio, see if your website builder offers one, or if not, check for it while selecting one. You can distribute your final photographs to clients after sharing private galleries so they can make choices and offer feedback.
Keep in touch with clients
Although it’s not a requirement, getting in touch with your clients after the shoot is a great move if you want to excel in client relations and possibly land future jobs with them. You can express gratitude for their cooperation, inquire about the progress of the distribution of your commercial photographs, and let them know you’re open to additional work.
How Much Money do Commercial Photographers Make?
The wide variety of niches open to business photographers can lead you to believe that the price that might be paid for a commercial gig can vary. The good news is that commercial customers often set aside money in their budgets for content creation for their advertising, sales, and marketing campaigns. The ability to consistently work with well-paying clients, which isn’t always achievable in other photography fields, makes commercial photography a good decision.
Professional photographers may earn different amounts of money depending on where they live. The average yearly salary for a commercial photographer in the United States is $52,000. Still, a photographer in a big city with many commercial clients and a higher cost of living will probably make more money than a photographer in a smaller city.
You can look into local commercial photography wages to better understand your area’s actual range. However, remember that a talented commercial photographer may also get the chance to travel to other locations to take pictures for their clients.
You might even be able to chase high-paying clients located far away if the photographs they require don’t necessarily need to be taken locally, depending on your commercial photography. For instance, a product photographer doesn’t have to travel to have things delivered to their studio.
Licenses and Pricing
Commercial photography involves a lot of licenses, so when you sign one, be sure you know what you’re giving up. You could lose a lot of money if unaware of the various types of photography licenses available.
You will encounter the following licensing types:
- Usage – specifies your photographs, such as in a print media campaign, may be used.
- Copyright – This determines whether you or the customer will own the image rights following the photo shoot. You can distribute a use license without surrendering your copyright. You will be within your rights to request more payment if your customer utilizes the photos for an internet campaign while having a use license for print media. Many customers will inquire about copyright, therefore you should charge them more.
- Approved uses – This may not exactly match the usage license. The photographs could be sold with the restriction that they NOT be used in a specific manner. You may, for instance, specify that your portraits cannot be used to promote pornographic goods. This is a very real problem that some photographers and models have encountered in well-known cases.
- Period of time – How long is your client permitted to use the pictures? sixty days? A year? More?
- The number of uses – How many copies of the photograph will be made?
You can determine your pricing based on the license that you ultimately decide on. Making this happen isn’t always simple, so doing some research is a smart idea.
Start by estimating how much money you may expect to make from the shoot. It’s that easy! There isn’t a specific rule other than agreeing on a fee for which you and the client are willing to work. There can be a significant difference between bids for the same project. Before making a demand, you must have confidence in who you are and what you are worth.
As this severely restricts your capacity to generate further revenue from the photographs and prevents you from even using them for your own needs, you will want to increase your charge to transfer the copyright significantly. You could discover that a contract with a time or usage cap functions well. As a result, you can charge the client again for additional uses not covered by your original agreement, resulting in numerous payments from the same shot. Reading in-depth about photography contracts is a smart idea. For the client to understand what he is paying for, well-written contracts create reasonable expectations and clearly define deliverables and terms of service.
In some cases, you might even decide to charge less. For instance, if a company agrees to let you keep the copyright and even credits you with creating the photos everywhere they are used, you might decide that this exposure is sufficient justification for a lower fee.
You must resist the urge to provide unpaid labor in return for visibility. You hardly ever get any financial assistance from this. Any large enough brand to effectively spread your name will also be large enough to allocate money specifically for photography. Don’t work for free until you know what you’re worth, especially if they plan to keep the photos afterward.
Suggestions For Commercial Photography
- Possess A Unique Style
Every time you take a picture, make sure it stands out. Your personal style should feature original techniques that delight the eyes of your audience. Moreover, by doing this, you might distinguish yourself from your rivals and draw in noteworthy ventures that help you develop your knowledge.
- Maintain Your Relevance To Current Trends
Social media lets you learn about fresh graphic trends that are now ruling the market. Understanding your customers’ expectations will help you deliver services more effectively.
- Be Innovative
It would be great to blend your imagination with your client’s expectations perfectly. In addition to using the appropriate concepts and approaches, you should make an effort to distinguish your photos from your creative abilities. When you present a product in a brand-new style, you may quickly grab your audience’s attention and increase your client’s profit.
Cons Of The Commercial Photography Industry
You no longer have the freedom to photograph your goods how you see fit once you start working as a business photographer. Instead of working on projects that interest you, you will frequently find that your interests are aligned with those of your clients.
Pricing can be another difficulty you run with. You risk losing your employment to competitors who undersell you and your work. This shouldn’t stop you from setting your price, though, as doing so can diminish the value of your skills.
You can also run into difficulties getting paid. You can deal with late payments by including a condition in your contract that specifies an extra fee in the event of late payment.
You now have a complete guide to getting your commercial photography business off the ground! Commercial photographers are allowed to assist businesses with images that present them in the best possible way and are crucial to the marketing initiatives of all different sorts of organizations. You can quickly get from wondering “what is commercial photography” to earning money doing it with a few pieces of camera equipment, an outstanding portfolio, and a list of ideal customers.
FAQs on What is Commercial Photography
What is the subject of commercial photography?
When taking pictures for a living, it’s important to understand what the client wants and what their intended audience perceives as “excellent pictures.”
What is the goal of commercial photography?
Commercial photography is the art of producing photos to advertise or sell a good or service in publications, online ads, menus, brochures, and business publications. Commercial photographers aim to market your goods by showcasing their qualities and advantages.
What is the commercial use of a photo?
A picture is used for commercial purposes when it is used in advertisements or other forms of marketing and sales. You can establish the usage restrictions with a license for each picture you supply. Typically, you charge a licensing fee when licensing your images. By paying a higher cost, customers can frequently extend their licenses to other uses or for longer periods of time.