What is ‘Commercial Photography’?

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The easiest way to remember what commercial photography is is to ask yourself the following question:

“Will the images be used to help promote/market/advertise a product or service?”

If the answer is yes, then it’s considered commercial photography. Clients who purchase commercial photography include but are not limited to:

  1. advertising agencies
  2. marketing firms
  3. creative departments within large corporations (‘in-house’ creative)
  4. branding firms that specialize in packaging
  5. freelance art producers/buyers acting on behalf of a company
  6. marketing departments at small and medium sized companies
  7. all-in-one digital/print/social media branding/marketing/promotional firms (<– these guys all have their own names they refer to themselves as, but I usually just say ‘digital marketing firm’)
  8. businesspeople needing headshots
  9. individual small business owners needing images for social media and collateral

Images that result from commercial photo sessions can be used for a very wide variety of things, including but certainly not limited to the following:

  1. print ads in traditional media like magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc
  2. digital ads on various platforms like Google and Bing ads
  3. social media ads and/or in-feed content
  4. product packaging
  5. collateral such as business cards, brochures, door tags, flyers, leaflets, etc.
  6. out-of-home displays (‘OOH), like bus shelter ads, subway train ads, store displays, product displays (‘POP’ displays), etc.
  7. corporate print and electronic media, like annual reports, catalogs, newsletters, and trade show media. 
  8. And so much more….

Sometimes photographers confuse the term commercial photography with photography they provide in order to make money/profit, but if that photographer is only, or primarily, working with families, individuals, and couples, they are providing portrait, wedding, engagement or pet photography as opposed to commercial photography. These are simple yet important distinctions.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative!

Other articles you may like:

How to Know if You Are Ready to Do Commercial Photography

The Difference Between a Commercial and Portrait Photo

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