A commercial photography definition, examples, and famous commercial photographers in the USA in 2023

Commercial photography serves as the connecting medium between a brand and its target audience. It is the stage that occurs between the production of the item and its presentation to the general public. The practice of commercial photography is indeed an essential component of our everyday lives. If we are unable to examine a model of the item beforehand, it is highly unlikely that we will go through with the transaction.

In commercial photography, the goal is to photograph a product in such a way that it is visually appealing. The product is given the attention it deserves by having the proper lighting, backgrounds, backdrops, and styling applied to it. It is even possible for it to extend to pictures of people providing or accepting a service. As opposed to being considered an example of fine art, the photograph in question is of the commercial or promotional variety. The completed project is then utilized in catalogs as well as on websites as a means of advertising and marketing a particular brand or product. The primary objective is to gather promotional images that will pique the interest of potential customers in the wares being sold.

Commercial photography meaning

The term “commercial photography” refers to any kind of photography used for editorial purposes to depict a product, any individual, or a service. This category serves as an umbrella term for the various types of photography that fall under its umbrella. People frequently get confused about what constitutes commercial photography and what does not because it overlaps with so many other subgenres of photography.

However, merely defining this term is only the beginning. In this kind of photography, appropriate contracts and licenses are essential. Both the customer’s brand and the photographer’s brand will benefit greatly from the usage of these images. Numerous photographers are drawn to the field due to its lucrative potential and demanding combination of technical expertise and subject matter knowledge.

Commercial photographer definition

Commercial photography entails commissioning a photographer to take pictures of predetermined subjects and settings for marketing or publicity. It could be taking pictures of a product, a location, or even people.

As a rule, commercial shoots are time-sensitive, and photographers must work efficiently to meet their deadlines. The photographer will typically need to devise a strategy to maximize the number of shots taken during the allotted time.

Lighting equipment and reflectors are common tools for commercial photographers because they allow them to eliminate shadows in hard-to-reach places. To get the most stable and steady shot possible, they employ the use of a tripod.

Professional photographers who create photographs specifically for business, industry, or the public sector are engaged in commercial photography. Commercial photography has many applications and can be used in many different contexts. This includes anything from taking pictures of houses for real estate agents to use in their listings to making photos for magazines.

Taking pictures is only one aspect of commercial photography. Lighting, props, reflectors, and other tools are used to ensure the subject always looks its best. If it’s dark outside, the photographer may need to set up special lighting, and if there isn’t enough natural light streaming in through the windows, they may need to add more.

Commercial photography examples

Commercial Photography

Producing photographs of products for inclusion in printed catalogs is a typical approach taken in commercial photography. The photographs used in these catalogs frequently have chic settings to showcase the primary product and draw attention to it. The photograph makes an effort to tell a story while also serving to emphasize the brand at the same time.

eCommerce Photography

Many online businesses require an image that is entirely focused mostly on the product itself, free of any additional elements that could be considered a distraction. There is no effort to establish an emotional attachment with the viewer, as evidenced by the use of a plain, white background. Examples of excellent e-commerce commercial photography can be found by conducting an image search online, and these stock photos can be found there. Because their backgrounds are plain, nothing distracts the viewer’s attention from the displayed product.

Headshots Photography

This kind of photograph is taken to promote the person who is providing the goods or services. Your company and brand will benefit tremendously from adding a professional headshot, as prospective clients appreciate being aware of the person with whom they will be working. Instead of simply selling a product, it builds the customer’s trust in the company.

Photography of a product

This type of shoot is equivalent to catalog photography in that the primary focus is on image capture of a product to provide a guidebook for customers. Merchandise is typically photographed against a white or off-white background during these shoots; however, on occasion, additional items may be used to provide context.

Photography of the Real Estate Industry

Images of hotel rooms and opulent resorts can be included in a real estate photographer’s portfolio, even though real estate photography has been most frequently used in the process of renting out retail space and selling homes. These will ultimately be published in brochures and made available on travel websites.

Types of commercial photography

How you want your business to be perceived by the public will be a major factor in determining the style of commercial photography you employ.

✔️ Tonal Photography

✔️ Landscape

✔️ Photographic Documentation of Architecture

✔️ Photography of fashion models and clothes

✔️ Image Capturing for Products

✔️ Taking Headshots

Tonal photography

The goal of tonal photography is to capture an image using only one color tone. To illustrate the concept of tonality, consider a portrait in which all but one detail is drawn in fine red pen. This emphasizes the focal point of the photo while leaving the background black and white.

When trying to draw attention to a specific product or service, tonal images are a great choice. For a new line of high-end red pens, for instance, tonal photography could be used to show how they stand out from the crowd. When you want to highlight a specific feature or object in a photo, try using tonal photography.

Before taking the shot, all you have to do is pay close attention and use your imagination. Choose a color tone that stands out from the crowd by making it bold or unconventional.

Landscape photography

The environment is another subject that will be photographed by commercial photographers. The subject of these photographs is seen working at the time of the shoot. Sports photography is by far the most common variety. Depending on the sport, a commercial photographer will travel to a game to take pictures of a specific athlete or team in action. Other types of environmental photoshoots include photographing a masseuse while giving a massage or a dancer while performing in a recital.

Photographic Documentation of Architecture

It’s a fantastic opportunity to put one’s passion for photography to good use while simultaneously fostering connections with customers interested in architectural photography.

On that particular list, the significance of lighting comes in at number one. It is the only thing that distinguishes your photographs from the ones that you see in magazines, which is what gives your pictures their one-of-a-kind appearance.

Lighting is often regarded as the most important aspect of an architectural shoot; however, it is also one of the most challenging to master. The following are some suggestions that can help you improve the lighting in your photographs: Take your photographs either very early in the morning or late in the evening. Because the sun moves throughout the day, it is best to take your photographs either at sunrise or sunset, when the light is at its most flattering.

Warm rays of light coming in through windows and skylights will light up walls and floors in your photographs, which will result in beautiful colors in your photographs.

When shooting at night, you can take advantage of the natural ambiance to make your photos appear as though they were lit by an indoor source of light.

Photography of fashion models and clothes

fashion models and clothes

The fashion industry is one of the most cut-throat fields and necessitates the services of an experienced photographer. In this world, there are a great number of photographers working for fortune companies, and each photographer has a unique aesthetic and method for producing their photographs.

Some of these fashion photographers have established themselves as industry leaders thanks to the quality of their work, and as a result, they can charge extremely high rates for their services.

On the other hand, there are a lot of amateur fashion photographers out there who are capable of producing great images. The important thing is to be aware of the various ways in which your interest in photography can be turned into a profitable business. There is never a shortage of work for talented fashion photographers, but this is especially true in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and London.

There are a lot of fashion magazines and publications, and a lot of them hire good fashion photographers so that they can create the best possible images for the covers of their magazines and the editorial sections of their magazines. These are the kinds of jobs that are ideal for people who want to establish a name for themselves in the fashion industry but do not want to do so at the expense of their morals or ethics.

You will gain a deeper comprehension of the inner workings of this sector if you take on one of these jobs, which will also provide you with an insider’s look at the operations that take place behind the scenes. Consequently, if you enjoy perusing the layouts or covers of fashion magazines, becoming a fashion photographer may be an excellent way to experience the fashion industry from a different perspective. And firing your weapon is not the only aspect of the game.

Headshots photography

FaceBook profile pictures aren’t the only place to use a professional headshot. They are also used in professional contexts, such as LinkedIn profiles, Twitter avatars, and promotional materials.

With the proper tools and well-balanced lighting, taking a professional-quality headshot is child’s play. You can hardly mess up a webcam shot by yourself. To help you take better headshots with your webcam, here are some pointers.

First, locate a space that has adequate natural light to serve as a backdrop without being too bright or too dim. If you are unable to track down a suitable substitute, you may want to think about purchasing additional lighting for your dwelling or place of business.

Everything is all set up for the next phase. Get a big sheet of white paper and place it behind you, but not close to your face.

In addition, make sure that nothing in front of you is casting shadows onto your face. After you’ve set up shop, it’s time to take some portraits. When you sit down, your eyes should be at the same level as the camera. Before snapping the photo, make sure everything is perfect and centered. Cropping an image after the fact can make it look unnatural.

Products photography

One of the most effective ways to advertise a product is through professional product photography.

The essence of your product needs to be demonstrated so that viewers can imagine themselves using it even if they will never get their hands on it.

Businesses, especially those reliant on online sales, can’t overstate the importance of high-quality product photos. The goal of any product photographer is to produce an image that will sell the product.

Since most people will never get the chance to try a product out for themselves, the next best thing is looking at pictures of it.

The pictures need to be high-resolution and detailed enough to sell the products. Viewers should be able to make out the product’s finer details and textures for a more accurate representation of the item’s appearance before making a purchase decision.

Taking pictures of products outside in natural light is a common but disastrous practice. Shadows and reflections from outside light sources can obscure an object’s true hue and surface finish.

If you’re going to take photographs, it’s best to do so in a studio with lots of windows and white walls. In this mode, you can easily capture clear photos of whatever you’re shooting without worrying about distracting shadows or glare.

Commercial photography salary

In the United States, a commercial photographer can expect an average salary of $81,012 per year as of the 1st of December 2022.

In the United States, commercial photographers earn an average of $37,027 annually or $17.8 per hour. The lowest-earning 10% of commercial photographers make about $23,000 annually, while the highest-earning 10% make $59,000.

The highest salary goes to the school’s official photographer. The average salary of a school photographer was $98,357. In terms of salary, the top 10% earn $246,000, while the bottom 10% earn $39,000.

Commercial photography pricing

The expense of employing a professional photographer for commercial purposes is determined by several elements, including the setting of the photo shoot, the kinds of tools and supplies that will be required, the photographer’s level of experience, the processing fees, and the total number of photographs that will be obtained. When all of the aforementioned considerations are taken into account, the cost of employing a professional photographer for commercial purposes ranges, on average, from $150 to $400 per hour.

Commercial photography jobs

When and how to pursue a career in commercial photography is a major question in this commercial photography field.

Taking photographs for commercial use can be an extremely lucrative line of work. As was just discussed, photography encompasses a vast number of subgenres that are distinct from one another. Commercial photography is a viable career option for photographers of all stripes and specialties. However, breaking into the commercial photography industry is not a walk in the park.

Customers are required to pay significant sums of money to acquire visions, photographs with a high resolution, and pricey commercial licenses. They anticipate the photographers to have an extensive portfolio, expert skills, the best equipment, and knowledge of the various usages. Because there are so many requirements, most commercial photographers have many years of professional experience.

It won’t be easy to break into the commercial photography world if you are just starting as a photographer. Before beginning to build a clientele, it is essential to put in the effort to hone your existing skills. When you have a portfolio ready, you should think about doing an internship or working for a commercial photographer who is already well-known. You will be able to learn the trade while simultaneously expanding your social network.

Commercial photography portfolio

The term “commercial photography” refers to a wide range of sub-genres within the larger field of photography that are utilized for business-related projects.

A commercial photography portfolio shouldn’t simply demonstrate that the photographer has a solid understanding of exposure and white balance. In addition, your style should be communicated through your portfolio, along with the nature of the work that you do. Your best work ought to be included in a portfolio, regardless of whether it is printed, hosted online, or both. You could even have it in all three formats.

The use of portfolios is highly recommended as the method of choice when looking for a suitable commercial photographer. A photographer’s style can be gleaned from the photographs included in their portfolio.

Having a good photography portfolio website needs to be the single most significant tool that would enhance the company. If you don’t have one, get one!

What is the difference between commercial photography and advertising photography?

The goal of commercial photography is to produce images that are as accurate as possible representations of the product being photographed. On the other hand, the goal of photography used in advertising is to influence or sway the viewer into desiring the product in question for his or her personal use.

Commercial photography and advertising photography share many characteristics, but they also diverge significantly in significant ways. The primary objective of commercial photography is to improve the likelihood that a seller’s prospective customers will recognize and value the good or service being offered. Taking pictures of products from the most flattering angle possible makes them more appealing to the viewer, which increases the likelihood that they will buy the product. Leaving a lasting impression is the primary goal of any advertisement photoshoot. In addition to this, it presents a service or product in the most favorable light possible, with the primary objective being to inspire a desire in the viewer to have that good or service in their own homes.

In contrast to a simple yearning for the item depicted in the image, the purpose of the image is to incite a longing for the lifestyle that is depicted in the image utilizing the expression of a particular mood or feeling. Get in touch with Jure Ursic as soon as possible to find out how the original and imaginative commercial and advertising photography he creates can benefit your company.

What is the difference between commercial photography and editorial photography?

Editorial photography illustrates articles and educates readers. A restaurant feature story may include photos of the building, décor, and menu.

Advertising photography promotes goods and services. Editorial photos require less setup than commercial ones. Legal permission is needed to publish commercial photos with premium brands, easily recognizable people, or private property. Clients, photographers, and subjects sign model and property release forms. These forms specify image usage and publication. This contractual liability the photographer and let them use the images for those other purposes. If the photographer sells images to a stock agency, additional negotiations may be needed.

Editorial photos of rock climbers climbing mountains accompany magazine articles about rock climbing. A similar image used in a rock climbing gear ad would be a commercial photographer. Process and outcome distinguish editorial and commercial photography.

Commercial and editorial photography differ in budget. Commercial shoots budget more for post-production.

Commercial and editorial photography differ in other ways:

➡️ Objective: Editorial photography tells a story, while commercial photography connects a brand to its consumers.

➡️ Client: Client Publications hire commercial photographers. Commercial photography clients are businesses. Commercial shoots usually include clients.

➡️ Photographer: Editorial photographers can tell stories more freely. Clients must direct commercial photographers.

➡️ Authority: Editorial photographers own their images. Magazines often request exclusive ownership for a set time. Editorial photographers can license their images for stock photography, but they earn less. Advertising photos may be buyouts or work for hire in commercial photography. Commercial photos can be licensed and relicensed.

What is the difference between commercial photography and portrait photography?

A professional photographer who shoots photographs for use in commercial settings is known as a commercial photographer. This person is responsible for taking photographs of the goods or services that customers are selling or are involved in. On the other hand, a photographer who appears to take images of people for their personal use is referred to as a portrait photographer. That might be for someone who seeks to seize a certain event in their life and remember it forever. It takes a certain amount of expertise to be either of these same two; although some photographers choose to pursue a career in one of the two, these photographers can work in both of these specialties with no problems.

Top 20 famous commercial photographers

1. Moriah Sawtelle

Moriah Sawtelle

Moriah Sawtelle is a commercial photographer based in New York City, a podcaster, an author of cookbooks, and the CEO of a creative agency. She wears many hats! She is also a preferred business partner for major brands such as Simple Mills, The Today Show, and Anthropologie. Her photographs of food are striking in their use of contrast and convey a strong sense of narrative.

Even the props and background details are engaging enough to tell a story on their own. Moriah is an expert when it comes to informing complete lifestyle stories through the use of food, light, and composition. Her subjects range from outings at upscale restaurants to creations made in modern kitchens.

2. Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon

Avedon’s genius was undeniable, and he was widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers of all time. Photographers can take inspiration from his efforts to push the envelope. Instead of the typical portrait style of professional photographers, he focused on capturing action. Yet, fashion in that era favored that look. Nonetheless, his original perspective was crucial to the development of this art form in the 20th century and helped to stylize photographs of the contemporary world.

3. Michael Benabib

Michael Benabib had worked with prestigious publications like New York Times and Rolling Stone long before he became one of the city’s most in-demand commercial photographers. Many well-known businesses, including Pfizer, AmEx, and J.P. Morgan, have benefited from his services. Morgan, in addition to local businesses that require a studio or on-location corporate portraiture.

Following the needs of each shoot, he carefully selects compositions that either highlight, contextualize, or isolate subjects and their settings. When it comes to getting their portraits taken in New York City, celebrities, including Loretta Lynch and even Bill Clinton, turn to Michael.

4. Jade Stephens

Jade is a commercial photographer working in Berlin, Germany, at the moment. She was born in Australia but has spent most of her life there. Her photographs emphasized discovering unseen particulars and constructing narratives for people and businesses.

5. Nadav Kander

Nadav Kander

Kander, who currently resides in London, is a talented photographer. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he developed an early interest in photography that would eventually lead him to devote decades to learning about and practicing the art form. In addition, he is well-known for his stunning landscape and portrait photography, which captures the natural splendor of its subjects. The likes of former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, and Eugene Kang have all appeared in his jaw-dropping photographs.

6. Nick Dunne

Nick Dunne is a commercial, conceptual, and food photographer who works out of the city of London. In addition to that, he is the proprietor of Studio 59, which is located on Old Bethnal Green Road, and he is represented by Trapdoor Agency.

7. Dmitry Ageev

Dmitry Ageev

From Russia comes this up-and-coming artistic young photographer. Dmitry has a wonderful knack for evoking thought with his expressive drawings. He is also rapidly gaining notoriety as a premier portrait photographer for cutting-edge creative work.

8. Kathleen Pracht

Photographer and set designer Kathleen works in the commercial product photography industry in Berlin. On the other hand, she enjoys the opportunity to meet new customers while traveling for her job. She is enamored with vibrant hues and the whimsical juxtaposition of different things and components.

9. Eric Lafforgue

Eric Lafforgue

The photographs themselves are evidence of the many places this Frenchman has visited. It is his interest in the world’s remote and unexplored regions that makes his collection so impressive. Photographs by Lafforgue do a lovely job of highlighting both the similarities and differences between various nationalities.

10. Dan Winters

Dan Winters

Photographer and American artist Terry Winters is best known for his iconic images of Hollywood’s A-list. And there were so many questions that could be answered by looking at his photographs. He hid from sight behind the most notable people. They include such notables as DiCaprio, Depp, the Dalai Lama, Obama, Shakur, and Obama.

11. Platon


More evidence of Britain’s prodigious talent pool. Platon has successfully trademarked his distinctive style in the business world because his works are instantly recognizable. Platon’s intimate portraits are stunning because of the depth of feeling they convey despite the artist’s use of minimal props and lighting. His photographs, like all of his works, are all shot in a similar white background, black and white fashion.

12. Peter Hapak

Peter Hapak

Among the subjects of this American photographer are several A-listers from the worlds of television and film. For this reason, a select few of them, including Nicole Kidman, Timothee Chalamet, Roger Federer, etc. He has also collaborated with major brands like Netflix, Men’s Journal, Time, Vanity Fair, and others. His extraordinary works are enhanced by the simplicity of their settings and tones. Despite appearances, Hapak emphasizes the importance of a thorough and careful pre-planning process in all of his interviews.

13. Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

From the 1960s to the 1980s, he has widely recognized for his black and white portraits as well as photographs of controversial subjects. When creating art, Robert Mapplethorpe was all about combining and contrasting different methods. Among his most well-known contributions are photographs of celebrities and still paintings that represent the ideals of classical beauty.

14. Lisa Kristine

Lisa Kristine

Photographs by humanitarian Lisa Kristine give a glimpse into the lives of those living in extreme poverty worldwide. Some of her best pieces are those that shed light on contemporary slavery and celebrate the diverse and beautiful cultures of indigenous peoples from around the world.

15. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

McCurry is one of the most famous photographers who has ever lived and has published more than a dozen books of his work. It has been said that his photograph of a girl in Afghanistan with piercing emerald eyes, which became famously known as “Afghan Girl,” is one of the most important captures in the history of photography. In addition, the many pieces he created for National Geographic as well as Indian culture, shook up the modern industry, and it will continue to leave a lasting impression on artists of the future.

16. Martin Schoeller

Martin Schoeller

The signature style of Schoeller’s work, which consists primarily of close-ups, is uncomplicated but effective. The extremely detailed pictures he takes of his subjects lend his style a nuanced sense of three-dimensionality. Bill Clinton, Sting, and Heath Ledger are just a few of the famous people whose likenesses he has helped immortalize through his work, but he has also done similar things for a large number of other famous people.

17. Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

This American man, who is 71 years old, is widely regarded as one of the most talented photographers in the industry today. Her celebrity portrait photography is known for being deeply moving and intimate. She has won numerous awards for her work. She is famous for having taken the final photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono together before he passed away.

18.  David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle

The use of religious and historical iconography, along with LaChapelle’s signature splashes of vibrant colors and incorporation of pop art in and out of his images, set him apart as a singular artist. His work as a marketing and celebrity portrait photographer for celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Amanda Lepore has earned him a lot of notoriety and praise.

19.  Joyce Anderson

The photography studio known as Joyce Anderson Photography focuses on fashion and specializes in portraiture, beauty photography, and commercial commissions. After collaborating as an associate with some of the most well-known photographers in the United States, including Irving Penn, the company’s founder, Joyce Anderson, established it to meet her exacting standards for the quality of photographic imagery. Her portfolio features images that have stood the test of time and have been published in prestigious publications such as Vogue.

20. Wini Lao

Photographer Wini Lao, who works out of New York City, creates imagery that is colorful and bright for companies that are driven by a higher purpose. Wini’s experience ranges from collaborating with individual bloggers to producing content for the world’s most well-known brands. Her current client roster includes brands in the categories of athleisure, skincare, and lifestyle, such as Lululemon.

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Simply put, a commercial photographer assists clients in the taking of professional photographs so that the client’s company can more effectively market its goods or services to potential customers. Clients can take high-quality photographs of their goods or services with the assistance of a commercial photographer and then have those photographs presented to prospective clients. Consider working with a commercial photographer if you are in the process of launching an industry or have already run a company and require high-quality and expertly-captured images to assist in selling the products or services you offer.

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Questions and Answers for Commercial Photography Definition

What does a commercial photographer do?

Professional photographers who specialize in commercial photography take pictures to promote a company, a product, a facility, an individual, or a group of people. Advertisements crowd the pages of periodicals. The photographs used in these advertising messages are stock images.

What is needed in commercial photography?

A high-quality camera and lenses designed for professional use are necessities for this task. If possible, a sensor of the highest possible quality should be used. It needs to be able to take tack-sharp photos across a wide aspect ratio so that you can print them out on a huge canvas if you so choose.

How can you identify a photo if it is commercial photography?

Commercial portrait photography is known for its professionalism and somber tones. They typically focus on a single person deep amid an office task. You can see a lot of similarities between these images and those found on stock photo websites.

Is commercial photographer hiring needed?

Yes, hiring a commercial photographer for a business or product shoot is worth the money. You can’t say enough about how helpful it is to have a professional in commercial photography help you take good pictures. Commercial photographers can help you show off your products in a professional way and help potential customers understand what you do. Putting up high-quality, professional photos of your company or organization could also help people recognize your brand and make more purchases.

About the author:

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel is a very unique, professional, and informative website/blog writer. His biography page features various types of photography strategies in the USA. Keep an eye on his blog that contains a lot of creative details that draw with keep attention.

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel is a very unique, professional, and informative website/blog writer. His biography page features various types of photography strategies in the USA. Keep an eye on his blog that contains a lot of creative details that draw with keep attention.

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