What is Commercial Photography?

Commercial photography involves taking pictures for commercial use: for example in adverts, merchandising, and product placement. Commercial photography is also used in corporate brochures and leaflets, menus in cafes and restaurants, and similar commercial uses where photographs enhance a text. Commercial photography is used to promote or sell a product or service. There are a number of ways that photographs can be used to better market products and corporations. For photographers who excel at commercial photography, it can be a very lucrative market, and the field of commercial photography is broad, with room for traditional and alternative photographs.

Selling a Product

Commercial photographs of product lines, or of individual products, can either focus upon the design of the product (for example the sleekness of a kettle, or the depth of carpet fibers), or upon the use of the product (for example, the functions on an iPhone, or playing games on the Wii). Product commercial photography reveals the detail and feel of a product to the customer, while advertising commercial photography is more likely to focus upon the status and attractions of the product.

Promoting a Business

Businesses may want to use commercial photography to promote themselves, or particular aspects of their work. There is a difference between commercial photography, which is often performed in a studio or isolated environment, and industrial photography, which often takes place on the site or factory floor. Most commercial photography professionals will not take on  an industrial photographic shoot. A common method of promoting businesses is through architectural and building photography, where the business can be seen as a product.

Food Photographs for Menus

Food can be photographed to promote menus or for use in culinary sections of magazines: these shots can either focus upon the food, rather like catalogue shots of clothes, or they can take in the mood and feel of a venue. Food photography can be performed by those with knowledge of nature or still-life shots. Food made by the restaurant should be photographed there, so the photographer will need to have portable lighting and backgrounds for the photographs.

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography is probably the best known type of commercial photography, as these types of photographs show up in advertisements as well as editorials in magazines. There are a range of styles and techniques in commercial fashion photography, from catalogue photographs which attempt to show the entire detail of clothing, to editorial shots, which attempt to use the clothes in unusual and dynamic ways.

Portrait Photography

Fashionable since photography was invented in the nineteenth century, family portraits by professional photographers remain one of the most lucrative areas in the industry. Often not thought of as commercial photography, family portraits and wedding photographs are popular, so it is important to understand how to light the human body, and to arrange families into traditional or fashionable poses. As portrait photography is so popular, there are a number of outlets which provide this service.

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