Being a commercial photographer, it is not uncommon for me to be challenged or questioned on my price or asked what exactly is commercial photography. Not only that, there is always the ‘well I spent £400 on my camera, it’s good, I can do it, why do I need you’ – I will address this issue later.
I don’t intend for this article to be a rant or a moan at the ‘questioners’ shall we call them, but more highlight what commercial photography is and why the world needs commercial photographers.
Commercial Photography is photographic images taken for use commercially. Typically the images are used for product placement, adverts and merchandising. The market for commercial photography is broad and with room for both traditional style images and more creative style images. The well-established commercial photographer in today’s market can often find himself in high demand.
SELLING THE PRODUCT
Commercial photographs are used to showcase and define the purpose of the product. Commercial product photography can reveal to the consumer the styling of a product line, it can show the purposes of a product such as a games console or app on a phone, it can highlight the details of a kitchen accessory. This differs slightly from advertising commercial photography where that is more intended to focus on the attraction or status of a brand or product.
Commercial photography is a prime way of advertising or promoting a business, an individual or an aspect of a business and work. Photography of a business is nearly always location based. More often then not, architectural photography, interior photography or the details of a businesses building are used to show case the business and is viewed as a product that way.
COMMERCIAL FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
Food photography is a huge market within the commercial photography industry. Nothing sells a dish better then an image, food photography is a must when promoting food. Food photography can focus on a dish or cutlery set and will be commonly used on menus or within magazines. Best photographed on location, it will be important that the chef sets time aside to cook dishes for the photographer to photograph, there is often industry tips and tricks used in photographing food.
A professional looking headshot is becoming more and more of a requirement within the business sector. Once only thought to be of use to an actor or actress, headshot photography is now playing a large part in promoting a business or individual due to consumers and other businesses wanting to see whom they are dealing with before contacting. Not only this, a commercial headshot provides a much more genuine and approachable feel to any business and its image. Recently I teamed up with fellow photographer Richard Torble and since doing so, we have both benefitted greatly from having our own professional headshots.
Fashion photography is often where the huge budgets are found and frequently take place in different countries with a huge team working on delivering the final image. It is the most commonly known type of commercial photography, this is typically because it is all around us from magazines, online ads and websites to bus stop banners, roadside billboards and of course catalogues. Fashion photography and editorial fashion photography differ slightly through their technique. Fashion photography will focus on the product as a whole in a simple way and used in a catalogue where editorial fashion photography will display the product in interesting ways with a lot more going on within the commercial image.
Editorial photography covers a huge spectrum, for instance anything you want to write about in a magazine and have accompanied by a photograph is classed as editorial photography. On an editorial commission, one day you can be shooting a handbag for a review, the next day it can be an individual who is being written about for a magazine article.
Portrait photography is often not thought of as commercial photography but it is as commercial as any of the above examples. With an ever growing market in family portraits and wedding photography, portrait photography is big business and very popular. Portrait photography is often the starting point for any new aspiring photographer but there are always plenty of professionals catering for the portrait market.
Once all the images are then taken, they need editing. It is fair to say that an hours shooting equals an hours editing. Editing can be time consuming (just as it was back in the dark room in the days of film) but is a vital part to any image.
No business or photographer can function as a sole island, you have to make time to network. Through our networking, we meet other professionals in different sectors of business who we help, but also in turn help us, which inadvertently helps you, our client. We become members of many groups from creative organisations to countywide chambers or commerce.
SO WHY HIRE A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER WHEN YOU HAVE A CAMERA AND CAN DO IT YOURSELF?
This is a question asked by many client but as a client, you have to ask yourself “do you have the eye?” and more often the not the answer is no. We commercial photographer’s invest tens of thousands of pounds in our lighting equipment, our camera equipment and lets not forget the studio, computers and software. We spend hours honing our skills in order to take our equipment and knowledge, combine the two and make you, your service or your product look as good as it can possibly be. Do you still think you can do the say with your budget £400 camera from the local electronics store?
Like any other business, the commercial photographer is like an iceberg, you only see 10% of what they do, there is a whole 90% under the water which is often not valued.
People appreciate a company that has invested in it’s image. Commercial images sell products, services and people more effectively then amateur images and give you an advantage over your competition.
No one is forced to hire a commercial photographer, but every see’s and appreciates the benefit when you do.