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What is Commercial Photography?

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Any image that aids a business in selling/promote their products and generate revenues is referred to as commercial photography. It is a vast category. In fact, multiple sub-genres of commercial photography, i.e., food photography, lifestyle photography, composite photography, fashion photography, are distinguished as individual niches too.

With a little observation, you will discern that commercial photography is everywhere around us. Today, the hundreds and thousands of products you know, even the products that are part of your day-to-day life, you might not be aware of those if there wasn’t any commercial photography. It is directly or indirectly everywhere around you.

An image on a billboard, still ads flashing on your computer screen while scrolling, models showing dresses in fashion catalogs, food printed on menus in restaurants, images printed on everything you purchase from the market, images on pamphlets which someone handed you – all of this is commercial photography.

The vastness of this field is not possible to cover with one article, but we will give you insight into some of the major sub-genres of commercial photography and few ways you can step up your work following simple tips we compiled for you!

Popular sub-genres of Commercial Photography:

As a passionate photographer, commercial photography can serve you best if you want to pursue photography as a career, especially in monetary terms. The commercial use of photography is so enormous and boundless that you can easily find a niche of your interest.

There is a common misconception that commercial photography is all about running a proper campaign and involves lots of equipment, people, and similar things. In reality, any photography directly or indirectly used for commercial purposes is commercial photography, even if it is a random shot taken by a hobbyist.

In terms of professional photography, these are the common types:

Fashion photography

This is one of the primary niches of commercial photography. People who have a rough idea only or don’t know much about photography perceive only fashion photography as commercial photography. This genre mostly involves shooting campaigns; the reason most people think commercial photography is all about campaigns, et cetera.

Close up woman portrait

Fashion photography involves both shootings in the studio and outdoor shooting. It is all about displaying fashion and fashion products, i.e., clothing, shoes, perfumes, and makeup trends. There are other types of fashion photography, but mostly all involve models showcasing the products mainly designed by fashion houses or individual designers. It falls in the commercial photography category because every image of fashion photography can impact business. Its market volume is easily accounted for billions of dollars.

Fashion photography campaigns are either to advertise the products on billboards, TV commercials, print advertisements, or fashion magazines. Common subtypes of this genre are:

  • Catalog Photography.
  • High Fashion.
  • Street Fashion.
  • Editorial Fashion.


Advertisement is not a proper niche per se, but types of commercial photography cannot be complete without discussing it.

Most commercial photography is for advertisement. As a matter of fact, the purpose of capturing most commercial images is to advertise them. Either it’s an image as a part of the product’s packaging, going up on a company’s website, published in a catalog, printed on a marketing pamphlet, advertised in a newspaper, or an image becoming a part of a billboard ad.

The advertisement is such a broad term that several genres of commercial photography themselves fall under it.

Product photography

Product photography is taking images of products offered by businesses. A product photographer aims to capture products in a way that appeals to potential consumers and entices them to buy the product.

A good product photograph can be a straightforward image, but it can help you boost sales by making people choose your product compared to your rivals.

Commercial image with perfume

The average earning of a product photographer is around 40,000$ to 60,000$. Based on experience and skills, many professionals are also earning a lot above this average.

Commercial architectural photography

This genre captures the buildings and architectures in a professional capacity, which are then used for commercial purposes.

All niches of commercial photography and their purpose are the same; promoting business and increasing sales. The difference is where the subject is addressed – in commercial architectural photography, the subject is all sort of architecture.

Their purposes can vary, i.e., It can be for shopping mall advertisement campaigns, for portfolio, company’s magazine/newsletter, et cetera.

Food photography

Hearing food photography, everyone thinks of your food images to publish on your Instagram account, but on a commercial level, it is slightly different. Food photography captures images of food for advertising and marketing purposes, such as to publish on menus and product packaging, for advertisements, in cookbooks, et cetera.

Commercial food image

The job of a food photographer is not limited to capturing delicious food only. He has to be a food stylist, too, and needs to have a good skill set to make food look appealing in all ways possible.

Portrait photography

As the name shows, the focus of this niche is capturing portraits but for commercial purposes.

The main difference between commercial portrait photography and individual portraits is that prior, all portraits are captured in the workplace, mostly used for advertisement purposes. This advertisement can publish these images on a company’s website and social media pages, advertising in brochures/pamphlets, et cetera.

Usually, photos on stock photo sites, such as an accountant in an office, workers in the field, and similar photos.

Family portrait

Tips to become better with commercial photography:

The jobs of different commercial photographers vary from each other, and it is not possible to address tips for each niche individually. But here are some general tips that can help every commercial photographer to thrive.

Making a good portfolio

A good portfolio can make a huge difference for professional photographers. A portfolio is usually a compilation of a photographer’s best work, which shows your skillset and can pursue a potential client to choose you.

Give importance to making a good portfolio. Also, keep updating it from time to time as you are making forward in your career.

To show your potential client, you are capable of getting the job. You can also make a customized portfolio for a client from your main portfolio. This portfolio will specifically show clients the skills he is looking for.

Don’t shy away from asking a lot of questions.

Understanding what your client is looking for is the first step to fulfill the expectation of your client. The more questions you will ask your client, the more clearly you can understand his vision.

Invest in a studio

Most clients, especially SMEs, prefer commercial photographers with their own personal studios because it’s cost-saving for them. Providing photographers with studio and equipment is an additional cost for businesses which they usually avoid.

If you are serious about competing in the industry of commercial photography, invest in your studio<- Affiliate link  🙂 You don’t have to start with establishing a full professional-level studio. Your studio can be the smallest room in your house with a basic setup. You can gradually keep updating it.

Photography studio

Learn about your equipment

To become a good professional commercial photographer, knowing your equipment is as important as owning the equipment. You might be missing a lot because you don’t know how to use your camera properly or use different tools.

Besides learning, keep yourself up to date with progress in your niche and new tools introduced. You might find something to step up your photography.


Post-production is time and effort-consuming, but you learned to make a difference as a professional commercial photographer.

Invest in good editing software. Experience different tools within the editing software. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the best software to start as a beginner.

Follow-up with clients and prospects.

Many people won’t tell you this tip, but it can increase your hiring and rehiring rate. After finishing a project, follow up with your client, ask him whether he is satisfied or not, and thank him for working with you.

Likewise, follow-up with your prospects once in a while. You can drop an email with a chunk of your portfolio and say that you are available for their gig or you have some ideas for their company as a commercial photographer.

Kitchen commercial photo

Look for assistance jobs. Assisting professionals is the best way to learn those skills which you cannot learn on your own.

Approach professionals in your area, send them your portfolio, and ask them to consider you as their intern or assistant. You can also ask for recommendations from your professional community.


Either you want to pursue commercial photography as a professional or as a freelancer, it is one of the most promising niches of photography.

Starting with commercial photography is as simple as starting any other hobby. The advantage is that with a little dedication, you can earn some profits.

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