An Ultimate Guide to Commercial Photography


While window shopping do you suddenly get an urge to buy that magnificent smartwatch or that pretty hand-bag? Do you want to know the secret of how they make these products seek your attention so quickly? Well, the answer lies in the secret of Commercial Photography. In this editorial session “An Ultimate Guide to Commercial Photography”, let’s understand all about commercial photography, e-commerce photography, scope, opportunities, salary, and much more.

As per the use and purpose of images, Photography as in whole can be categorized into two major types. That is Noncommercial Photography and Commercial Photography.

What is Commercial Photography?

The term “Commercial” refers to when the intention is to make money or profit. Henceforth, the term “commercial use”, simply means the reproduction and use in terms of marketing, reproducing, promoting, selling with the sole idea to make money.

Hence, Commercial photography is the type of photography that makes the aforesaid term ‘Commercial Use” possible. Commercial Photography involves taking photographs for commercial uses such as for business, branding, promotion, marketing, and selling, etc… to making a profit out of it.

Noncommercial Photography, on the other hand, strictly refers that the photographs will not be used for any of the commercial uses. It is not intended to make money by marketing, promoting, selling the photographs. For instance, personal photographs, family photography, engagement and wedding photography, educational purposes, etc… Unless written permission or agreement is made between the subjects in the photographs and the photographer.

Every successful business in the world carries out the branding of their company, products, and services. For which, the images play a vital role. Just think of any popular company, any brand, any product. For instance, your favorite chocolates, brands of products like watches, shoes, bikes, perfumes, textiles, jewelry, or even your camera, etc… By now, your mind would have already imagined. And some, or the other names of particular brands are already in your thoughts.

Career and Scope in Commercial Photography

Did you know that in 2019, there were nearly 1.92 billion digital buyers or say online shoppers who were making use of e-commerce? That accounted for 14.1% of retail purchases worldwide. While browsing through these e-commerce websites, do you wonder how do they acquire such professional images for their products? On the other hand, most of the companies invest almost 50% of their profit in advertisement and marketing. The commercial photographs that you very often see on television channels, newspapers, magazines, hoardings, etc…

commercial photography career jobs

Day-by-day, such usage is increasing. And in the coming years, it is to grow significantly. Thus, creating more opportunities for the upcoming, skilled, and creative photographers.

Growth of Commercial Photography Industry

Nearly 90% of the companies, now own their own website to promote their brand, products, and services. Some of them, do have their own social media accounts too. The photographs are the most important part of those websites and social media links. The digital approach worldwide is definitely going to increase this trend in the coming years. Henceforth, there is a growing opportunity in the e-commerce photography field.

Survey says that the number of book readers is decreasing as compared to the last decades. The internet facility and apps have taken its place, where people spend most of their time surfing, searching, etc… While they find their own ways to read the books either printed available or online. Thus, the printed media has demand for the quality images for publishing in books, magazines, banners, and hoardings etc…

Luxurious restaurants, hotels, resorts, service providers etc… have a wide opportunity for commercial photographers. All these statistics signify that there is going to increasingly grow demand for photographers in the commercial industries. Without which the development of businesses and companies are simply not possible. This is why it’s a very fortunate time to enter this industry. Those photographers who enter the market in the coming decade will be very successful given they are patient and skilled.

Types of Commercial Photography

The brand name and product that we have seen on banners, hoardings on the highway, advertisements in magazines, newspapers, televisions, etc… are visually clear in your mind. Those stunning captured images that promote and market the products, company, and businesses are what we call as Commercial Photography.

Further, there is a lot more to know about the genre of Commercial Photography. Let’s begin with the types of Commercial Photography.

  • Product Photography
  • Food Photography
  • Fashion Photography
  • Automobile Photography
  • Advertising Photography
  • E-commerce Photography

Product Photography

Commercial Product Photography includes photography of all sorts of tangible products. It not only makes the audience know about the product and the brand in particular. But also, aim in using those images for the sale of the product where these images play an important role in promoting the product as well as the brand.

product commercial photography

Whether it’s a local jewelry store or a multinational corporation selling clothing apparel, everyone needs to photograph their products to display them digitally or through print media. It includes countless sub-categories from home used equipment to infrastructures used in offices, electronic items to cosmetics, etc… For instance, clothes, fashion accessories, home appliances, toys, electronic items, furniture, sports equipment, etc…

Commercial Product Photographs are used for:

  • Websites (Example: Amazon, Flipkart)
  • Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Social media
  • Books
  • Other printing media

Food Photography

Food being a need for the survival of people has led to the creation of a huge industry of restaurants and fast-food chains across the world. But to attract their customers, they need to make their food appear appetizing and delicious on their websites, menu cards as well as their advertisements.

Due to recent advancements in technology, the food delivery service industry has undergone a boom which has led to the emergence of food delivery giants like Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats, etc. These companies require photography services on a huge scale because they have tie-ups with so many restaurants across the nation.

commercial food photography

While creating commercial food photography, one has to be very creative and acquire the food styling skills too. Specialized food stylists particularly use different styles for presenting food. It makes more sense when the photographer himself style out the food materials as per the concept of photography.

Well, various categories come under commercial food photography. Baked food like cakes, and cookies, cooked food like Biryani and curries, raw food materials like vegetables and fruits, and also, liquid forms like tea, coffee, juices, shakes, and beverages etc…

Commercial Food Photographs are used for:

  • Menu cards of Restaurants
  • Food delivery apps
  • Websites
  • Advertisements
  • Social media
  • Books

Fashion Photography

Fashion Photography is meant to provide more priority on the moods and expressions of the model. Indeed in terms of their outfits, concept and to showcase the lifestyle. When it comes to commercial fashion photography, it differs from the fashion photography in two ways. That is the intent and subject priority. The whole idea is to capture the images of the products where the models play an important role to execute the mood and expression.

commercial fashion photography

For instance, if the main subject is like the products such as clothes or textiles, electronic items such as mobiles, laptops, accessories like watches, shoes, and cosmetics like perfumes, face creams, etc… Models either female or male are a major part of the photograph here.

A commercial fashion photographer needs to here creatively has a thought processing while composing the model and the subjects or products. Although the main subject is the product, the models make it more appealing in the photographs. On the other hand, the photographer needs to take care of two major things. The priority and the intent of the image.

Commercial Fashion Photographs are used for:

  • Ads or Advertisements
  • Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Other Printing Media

Automobile Photography

Over recent decades, there has been an increasingly growing demand for automobiles. People with different economic status demand different facilities. This results in the production of various types of automobiles like bikes, and other two-wheelers, sedans, SUVs, electric cars, luxury cars, supercars, sports cars, and bikes, etc… This increases the demand for commercial photographers. Because these cars need to be reached towards the large market and attract the appropriate buyers.

commercial-automobile car photography

The luxury brands and manufacturers often sign contracts with commercial photographers for photographing their automobiles in the most appealing way. Interestingly, the amount for this can range in lakhs and millions sometimes!

Commercial Automobile Photographs are used for:

  • Ads or Advertisements
  • Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Other Printing Media

Advertising Photography

We come across the term Advertising very often. Moreover, many of us use the two terms Advertising and Commercial interchangeably. Well, although they have many factors in common. They differ in their basic fact and purpose.

Commercial photography is a genre of photography wherein the photography of the product, people, place, or services are captured. Furthermore in the best possible manner; with an intention to reach out to the audience and sell those products. Advertising Photography is to create attractive images of the products. Basically, for promoting the product, service, or brand.

advertising photography creativehut

Advertising Photography intends in capturing the emotions, moods, and feelings in the images. Such that how a product can bring out in the audience, the emotions of the people when they use such products, or services, etc… The whole idea is to create the storytelling photographs that not only promote the product and the brand; but also initiate them the need to buy those.

Henceforth, the advertising photographer needs to take up the photography shoot of every project or product in the form of a storytelling concept. Thus making proper use of lights, colors, props, elements, and composition, etc…

Commercial Advertising Photographs are used for:

  • Ads or Advertisements
  • Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Websites
  • Social Media
  • Other Printing Media

E-Commerce Photography

E-commerce or Electronic Commerce is the process of selling and buying of products and services through online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Instagram, Facebook, etc. It provides an ease of use for the customer as it provides the opportunity to choose from a vast range of products right from their homes. The money is transferred online and the respective product is delivered right to the customer’s doorstep.

e-commerce photography creativehut

With the growing use of online media and digital services, E-commerce photography is hence, is gaining more popularity than other types of Commercial Photography. Companies, brands, and businesses either promote and advertise or sell their products online or through electronic media. This is where the role of an E-commerce Photographer comes in.

An E-commerce photographer needs to photograph the products. So that, it can be displayed on their websites and social media. An attractive photograph seeks the attention of the customer and helps the business convince the buyer to purchase the product. That’s why a good e-commerce photographer can be the difference between a business’s success and failure.

E-Commerce Photographs is used for:

  • Television
  • Online Websites
  • Social Media
  • Mobile Apps

How to Become a Commercial Photographer?

Acquire the Required Skills in terms of Technical, Psychological as well as Marketing Skills to become a Commercial Photographer. Apart from these skills and knowledge, acquire a suitable camera and gears.

  1. Technical Skills
    • Camera Operation
    • Understanding of Natural and Studio Lighting Techniques
    • Editing Softwares (Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom)
  2. Psychological Skills
    • Patience
    • Determination
    • Diligence
    • Punctuality
    • Co-operative
    • Confidence
  3. Marketing Skills
    • You should know how to operate social media to spread your brand or name in the appropriate market or businesses.
    • One must have the ability to talk and convince others to entrust you.
    • You should have maximum awareness about the market and what is popular and acceptable by society.
commercial photography equipment

Have the Right Equipment

1 .Camera

It is important to note that, there are a number of various cameras available in the market. Before you choose a camera among those, remember that it’s your skills that really matter. Furthermore, Commercial photography are where the photos are to be used for commercial purposes. Hence, cameras need to be of good quality. Hence a good camera, as per one’s choice and budget always play a vital role in the field.

2. LensesLenses

  • Zoom lens (24-70mm or 24-105mm)
  • Wide-Angle Lens (around 14-24mm)
  • Macro lens (around 80-100mm)
  • A standard prime lens (35mm or 50mm) Remember if you don’t have much to invest in the beginning a basic zoom lens or kit lens would be enough. The other lenses are recommendable when you have achieved a certain level of expertise and financial freedom.

3. Equipment

  • Light equipment such as Strobes and Speedlight
  • Table
  • White background
  • White reflecting or bounce card
  • Reflectors
  • Tripod
  • Light Stands
  • Softboxes
  • Diffusers
  • Filters such as Polarizing filter and ND filter
  • Color palette or Color checker
  • Software for editing

How much money can you earn as a Commercial Photographer?

To be honest, there are no clear statistics or a median income about for an e-commerce or commercial photographer. It is completely dependent on how much projects one get or which company hires you for the same. For instance, A local restaurant might pay an amount of just Rs.5000/ or below per project for their social media and website. Whereas a Multinational Automobile Company may sign you up for a deal in lakhs or millions.

The best way possible to calculate your income as an e-commerce or commercial photographer is to analyze the growth of your already existing competitors in the market. And don’t just look at their income, look at where they worked and analyze their full progress from the start of their careers to becoming a famous photographer. This will surely set up a path for you to follow and get inspiration. On the other hand, working efficiently, with complete commitment and dedication, and applying one’s creativity skillfully, really matters in this field.

How to start earning money as a Commercial Photographer?

If you are starting out new without any experience and contacts, you may find it hard to get any job or projects from any company or business. The major issue here is that people don’t know about the existence of you and your services in the market. Here are few tips which can help you out to get your name in the market.

1 .Start now than never: Try to find out businesses around your city. Maybe you have some relatives who need help in boosting their business. Try to discuss with them the benefits of promoting and selling their products online. Just keep trying and eventually one person is going to agree with you. Now, by making your first client happy, you climb the first step of your career. They will in turn share information about you and your services in the market. And soon you will have a lot of clients coming to you.

2. First come, first serve basis for free: You must be wondering how would this help you? Well, it’s simple, offer your services for free but only to the first few clients. This way if they are happy with your services, your name is going to spread like wildfire in the market. If you can bear this financial risk, in the beginning, it’s going to help you boost your business very quickly. Afterward, you can start charging money.

3. Be active on Social Media: Try to do product, food, fashion, and or automobile photography on your own. You can easily find the resources to do photography through the help of your friends and family. And make sure you post these photos on a regular basis on your social media. This will create a strong portfolio for you to present to others. This will also help you approach companies more easily. If you are lucky enough, you would be surprised to get offers from very unknown clients or companies.

Which is the best way to learn Commercial Photography?

There are plenty of ways to gain knowledge and skills to become a commercial photographer. One of the most common forms is depending on and referring to the internet. Such as going through online classes, tutorials, websites, blogs, and vlogs, etc… related to commercial photography. Indeed, referring might inspire one to get into the field of Commercial Photography rather. Well, to achieve practical knowledge and experience in this field is much more important.

female photographer

Undergoing a Commercial Photography Course is more recommendable to acquire technical skills, Psychological Skills, Creative Skills, Professional Skills, preparing a Portfolio, and experiences. A Professional Diploma in Photography Course is a professional form of education. And the certificate acquired from it is proof of authenticity.

A diploma is a one-year course that will cover a vast number of topics in-depth and provide hands-on practices. Therefore, improving your skills over time instead of simply giving you knowledge. Any other courses in Photography will either be of too short duration and fail to provide professional knowledge and practices. Or it would be a long duration course that would take off your interest in the field.

Apart from duration, the expense or financial burden and the course curriculum are the two important facts while selecting the course. A diploma in Commercial Photography or Product Photography course can fulfill the needs and requirements to become a commercial Photographer.

In a one-year duration diploma course, you achieve the skills of photography, editing, DSLR videography, prepare your portfolio, and get ready for the internship. Since it’s a year course that makes one ready to build up a career and cover all the necessary topics in-depth in the course, one won’t lose interest in the course. In addition to that, the expense of the course won’t become a burden as in any long three-year degree course.

photography college admission

To acquire knowledge and the skills of a professional photographer, a Professional Diploma Course is always recommendable as it holds a far greater value. It will help you gain respect and legitimacy while applying to or dealing with companies or businesses regarding projects. Colleges and Universities also have tie ups with many companies and can recommend your name for an internship or a job. This will help you avoid the hassle of finding your first project.

An ultimate Guide to Commercial Photography: Conclusion

Remember that each successful commercial photographer has a unique signature style in capturing the images. The signature style of a commercial photographer reflects the photographer’s unique style of photography. Indeed, that is what makes them stand out of the crowd. Well, many trial and error can occur in this field. That’s all part of the game.

Well, to find out the best for oneself among those is the most challenging thing. It might take its own time… But it’s not impossible. As we all have heard it from our childhood, ” Try try till you succeed.” Yes, it’s true to try and try, until you find your signature style.


What is Commercial Photography?

Commercial Photography is a genre of Photography intended to capture photographs of products, people, services, etc… to make a profit or money out of it as well as to promote the respective brand or company.
best product photography punitsahu

What are the types of Commercial Photography?

The vast field of Commercial Photography is known in various types and names as per the subject. The genres of photography that can be included in the types of commercial photography are as follows.
Product Photography
Food Photography
Fashion Photography
Automobile Photography
Advertising Photography
E-Commerce Photography

advertising photography creativehut


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