Commercial Photography: Everything You Should Know About It

December 22

21 min. to read

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If you sell a product or provide a service, you can't do without commercial photography. At first glance, it seems simple: you just need to make good pictures. But it's much more complicated than that.

Products or services must be well packaged. No, we don't mean plastic or cardboard boxes that protect against damage. It's about how you present them to the public, and therefore to potential clients. That's where commercial photos will help you. In today's article, we'll talk about how to get started, and how to create images that are sure to attract a lot of customers.

What is Commercial Photography?

Not every professional photographer is familiar with this subject. What to say about beginners! It is not possible to name specific types of pictures here, because this type of photography covers quite a few areas. If we talk in general about commercial photography definition, it can be described as a photo that captures the product or service you provide. It doesn't stop there. There may also be people in the frame who receive that product or service and are pleased about it.

One thing you should remember very well. A good commercial photoshoot can be a great start of every project. If you want to promote a product or service, then don't spare money for a professional photographer. It will help you work with high-paying clients, so you will get more profits. If you are a photographer, such pictures will be a great addition to your portfolio. You can't imagine how much money clients can pay for the fact that you can promote their product or service.

So we've covered the definition of commercial photography, and now let's move on to its types.

Commercial Photography: What Types Can It Be?

In fact, as we said, this type of photography includes shots of the products you sell or the services you provide. Here are a few examples.

Fashion Photography

This type includes shots of clothing, shoes, or accessories intended for fashion shows. And not only that! It covers all types of clothes, shoes, and accessories that you want to sell.

Commercial Portrait Photography

Great for taking pictures of people satisfied with the quality of the product or service received. It can be either an individual or a group portrait (for example, a client and a salesperson with a product, or a happy client family).

Product Photography.

A separate type in the photography industry focuses specifically on the product. This includes shots from all sides that emphasize its benefits. Great for posting on social networks.

Food Photography

Do you own a restaurant, cafe, or grocery store? Then this type of photography is created especially for you. In the center of the frame is mouthwatering food that you just want to eat!

Architectural Photography

This type was invented for those who provide services in the field of architecture. Ideal for selling apartments, and cottages, or designing them.

Lifestyle Photography

If you want to show how your product is used in everyday life, this is your type. Often, lifestyle photography is used to promote books, smartphones, or appliances.

Who Is a Commercial Photographer?

It's not hard to guess that a commercial photographer is a person who makes commercial shoots for his clients. However, let's dwell on this in more detail, because our article is dedicated not only to this interesting type of photography but also to the people who work with it.

Before you become a commercial photographer, you should decide whether you really want to. Take a look at the list of tasks you will have to do:

  • Create and continually add to your client base. Before you become a professional who captures images for his clients, you will have to find those clients. That means you'll have to spend time creating portfolios and advertising.

  • Compose surveys to have a successful photo shoot. You'll have to talk to people a lot to understand how to best present a product or service. Don't forget that a lot depends on the client. He has to be willing to tell you all the information you need. You will need to be able to listen carefully and analyze the data. We advise you to make a questionnaire, where the client will answer the main questions, and the nuances can be clarified already before the beginning of cooperation.

  • Be flexible and creative. Even though the client may have his own vision of the photo shoot, you can know more about the characteristics and types of commercial photography and not be afraid to express your point of view.

  • Edit photos. Despite the fact that commercial photos do not require a long retouch, you must put your photos through editing software to show excellent results. Many applications like Photoshop or Luminar Neo have presets to help you do this.

Well, you have read all this and know what is a commercial photographer. Now let's move on to another important point, which is to pay for your work. Of course, many photographers only take pictures as a hobby, but commercial photo shoots require a lot of preparation and time, so it's worth deciding in advance how much money you want to get for it.

How Much Do Commercial Photographers Make?

Most often, clients who order commercial photography have a clearly specified budget, from which it is not worth deviating. Of course, this is a plus. You will always know how much money you will get in the end. In addition, this type of photography is used in business, which means it is ordered by clients who are willing to spend a lot of money to get the job done well.

The average amount you will receive will fluctuate depending on your location. If we talk about the United States, the average profit per year reaches $52,000. However, this is not the case everywhere. As a rule, in large cities, professionals are offered larger amounts, and in smaller cities, much smaller amounts. However, there is a little trick here as well. We recommend looking for clients from big cities, even if you yourself live in a small one. After all, you don't have to hand over the finished photos in person at all, huh? You can send them by email or messenger without spending money on extra traveling.

How Should I Price My Commercial Photography?

The first thing we advise you to do is to research the prices in your area. If you are a beginner, it might make a lot of sense to put the price a little lower than average. It's a great way to get started, find clients, and add to your portfolio with good shots. 

When you negotiate the price with the client, he may ask why it is so. In that case, you should break it down into points, which include:

  • Your rate for each hour or for the day's work as a whole;

  • Equipment rental (this can include both equipment you rent and your own camera, tripod, etc.);

  • Payment for the work of an assistant, if you do not take photos alone (this may include paying an intern, costume designer, or make-up artist, for example, if you need to take pictures of people);

  • Props or special location rental if needed;

  • License fees (it allows you to use the picture in advertising);

  • Photo editing (the price will depend on how deep post-processing the client wants).

Do not write off the fact that you may have problems financially. The first of these concerns are mainly professionals. Your competitors may set prices lower than yours. But do not rush to adjust to them, otherwise, there is a risk of devaluing your work. The second problematic point is late payment. We advise always signing contracts with clients, where there will be an additional payment in case of delay.

Additionally, we would like to mention the license. Don't forget that if the client wants the copyright, you can ask them for a lot more money than with limited use. In the second case, it is you who establishes the period during which the permission will be valid. We also recommend discussing with the client and stipulating some restrictions in the contract, for example, prohibiting the use of your photos for advertising pornographic materials.

How to Get Into Commercial Photography

Well, have you read all of the above and want to start your new career? Great! Then here are some tips to get you started.

Choose Your Specialization

Above we have already said that there are several types of commercial photography. This does not mean that you will only shoot the same things. However, it is worth choosing one direction and focusing on it. Think about what your dream client looks like. Maybe he works in real estate and you would like to shoot interesting designs or cozy interiors? After that, look at different examples of commercial photography. Do you like them? Then feel free to choose this field! Of course, you can work with other industries. But remember that clients are more likely to order from experts than from jack-of-all-trades.

Choose the Right Gear

So, once you've decided on an area, it's time to move on to gear. The first thing to look at is the camera and lenses. They need to be of good quality because you don't want them to let you down at a crucial moment, do you?

After that, you can add other equipment little by little. The list most often includes lightboxes and strobes.

Learn Post-Processing

Of course, even the best promotional photography ideas are worth little without the perfect look. In order to make the images mesmerizing you need to learn how to edit them. If you want to be on trend, attract new clients and continue working with existing ones, you need to be aware of how to work in modern applications. Luminar Neo, Photoshop, and Lightroom are considered the best, so take the time to learn them all.

Create a Good Portfolio

Of course, it's much easier said than done. We've prepared a few tips for you to help you with your portfolio:

  • Add images to your portfolio from the types of commercial photography you specialize in. This will help potential clients know right away that they're dealing with a professional. 

  • If you haven't had any clients yet, ask acquaintances or relatives to be models for your shots. You can also offer to take free pictures of other people. They'll get great pictures, and you'll earn a positive reputation and be able to show potential clients your work.

  • Put an emphasis on your website. Yes, you can only post photos on social media, but for a professional photographer, this is not enough. If you are strapped for cash, use a free website builder, and put there your best work.

Set Clear Rates

We're not saying that you shouldn't pay attention to the customer. Of course, you can give discounts, especially if it's not the first time you've had a photo shoot. However, we suggest setting a basic rate based on the time you spend, the equipment used during the shoot, and the fee you need to pay for the license.

Start Cooperation with First Clients

So, all the preparatory steps are done, which means that you have to wait for messages from clients. But you may be wondering where to find them. Here are a few ways to find them:

  • Sign up on Linkedin. You'd be surprised, but it's a real gathering place for people who are looking for valuable professionals in the photo industry. Spend a couple of hours creating a catchy profile to find new contacts. The people you're most interested in are marketing executives from companies that commission advertising campaigns. Feel free to send them messages and you'll be sure to connect with the right clients.

  • Create profiles on popular social networks. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter should be your first priority. This is where you can share your best work and find new clients.

  • Cooperate with local companies

  • If you know for a fact that there are companies in your area that advertise their products or services, contact them. Remember that you will definitely need to show a portfolio and talk about yourself. when you come to the office. Print out the portfolio or show it on a wide-screen smartphone or tablet.

  • Find a mentor. If you're a newbie, try becoming an assistant to an experienced commercial photographer. This will give you the opportunity to not only get the skills you need but also to add great pictures to your portfolio.

3 Main Tips for Commercial Photography: How to Achieve Great Results

So, you're already starting your new career, and we congratulate you! To make sure things go well and your earnings grow, we want to give you three useful tips. We are sure that they will help you in the future.

1. Have a Distinct Style

Do you want your picture to be recognized among thousands of others? Then you should definitely create your own unique style. Make sure your clients like it and don't be afraid to use it.

2. Stay Up to Date With Current Trends

You have to keep up to date, because the photo industry, like all other industries, is changing rapidly. We advise you not to neglect social networks because that's where you can find the best commercial photography examples.

3. Be Creative

It often happens that the client already has a certain concept of what he wants to see in the photo. But that doesn't mean you can't be creative. Just suggest your version and observe. In most cases, clients listen to the advice of professional photographers, and everyone wins as a result.

Luminar Neo: Best Photo Editor for Commercial Photography

To begin with, Luminar Neo is very convenient. You can use it as a standalone application or as a plugin. Imagine how much more you could do if you could switch from Lightroom to Luminair Neo and do editing in those apps one at a time without having to run them separately. We'll note that Luminar Neo has a very user-friendly interface, so even if you're new to it, you'll be able to understand it quickly.

  • Accent AI automatically adds contrast, brightness, and some adjustments. This makes your photo much more beautiful and brings out its best details.

  • Structure AI allows you to make the image much clearer. You can see every detail, so it's a great tool for commercial shots.

  • The optics tool allows you to quickly and easily get rid of chromatic aberrations and wide-angle distortion. After applying this tool, your pictures will be true photographic masterpieces.

Final Thoughts

So we introduced you to the basics of commercial photography and told you how to start a career in this field. The rest is up to you. We're sure you'll succeed, and may the inspiration never leave you!


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