Table of contents
1. What is commercial photography
2. How to get started with commercial photography
3. Commercial photography tips
4. Final thoughts

Commercial photography is a popular genre of photography nowadays. It’s a broad term that refers to more than carefully styled photoshoots for big and well-known brands.

Photographer taking shots for commercial purposes

In today’s post, we’ll explain what commercial photography is, how to get started with it, and share some tips and tricks for taking quality commercial photos.

While you’re at it, you might as well take a look at our guide on how sell your photos online and earn up to $120 per sale.

What Is Commercial Photography?

The simplest definition of commercial photography is any photography created for commercial purposes. More specifically, commercial photography includes several niches such as fashion photography, product photography, location photography, food photography, headshots, personal brand photography, architectural and environmental photography. Let’s take a closer look at each of those types.

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography, as the name implies, refers to taking photos of models wearing various fashion designs. It can take place in a studio or outdoors but it can also refer to fashion shows.

fashion photography example
Photo by Darko Mitev on Unsplash

In this type of photography, it’s important to understand the best poses and know how to give direction to the models to produce the best-looking shot.

Product Photography

Product photography is all about taking photos of products. As with fashion photography, you can take pictures outdoors or in-studio, although most photographers prefer taking shots in the studio where they have more control over the backdrop and lighting conditions. 

For this type of photography, you’ll want to pay special attention to the light. You have to understand what type of settings would work best for different types of products.

Location and Environmental Photography

If you decide to be a location and environment photographer, you’ll primarily be taking photos of various locations for commercial purposes as well as people in their working environment.

office photography
Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

This can include office and building photos for a particular brand, workers in a factory. Or employees in an office as well as vacation homes, rentals, hotels, and more for tourism purposes. 

Food Photography

When specializing in food photography, you might be taking photos of food products as well as editorial photos for local restaurants. In some cases, you might even work with a food stylist to get the most appealing images.

This is another type of photography where having a good understanding of how lighting affects photos is crucial.

Headshots and Personal Brand Photography

Personal brand photography and headshots are similar and usually used to promote a person’s services or products. Headshots are also used by actors and models for the purposes of putting together a portfolio. 

Taking headshots is a common type of commercial photography. Personal brand photography is starting to get traction as more and more small business owners and entrepreneurs want to get professional photos for their brand and business. 

Architectural Photography

Lastly, we have architectural photography that refers to taking photos of buildings and spaces for commercial purposes.

Whether it’s an architect trying to build their portfolio or rental agencies wanting to get professional photos of spaces and buildings they have for sale, architectural photography means working in tight timeframes and having an excellent knowledge of lighting conditions.

How to Get Started With Commercial Photography

Commercial photography is a lucrative field and can be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few tips that will help you get started with commercial photography.

Understand The Client Needs

First and foremost, you need to have a good understanding of what the client wants and why they need the photos. A good place to start is to create a questionnaire that your clients have to fill out after they book a photo session.

If you’d rather talk with them in person, be sure to take plenty of notes that you can refer to later on as you prep for the photo shoot.

Discuss Photo Use and Usage Rights With Your Clients

Before signing the contract and sending off the final invoice, be sure to discuss how the photos will be used as well as usage rights. This will help you determine the right price for each session as well as what type of photos you need to provide them with.

For example, photos that you will use nationwide or worldwide in print magazines or billboards will command a different price (and resolution!) than pictures taken with the intent of being used on social media. 

photo of a beverage
Photo by Dmitriy Frantsev on Unsplash

Ensure Your Quote Includes All Potential Costs

Once you know what your client wants, you need to think about any extra potential costs. Which ones? Permits, props, gear rental, hiring additional photographers, and similar. 

Keep in mind that in some cases, your client might also want to include extra photos in their session. Be sure to explain that this will incur an additional fee and line-itemize each additional cost.

Ask For Referrals

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful sources of income for any photographer. As you wrap up each session, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and testimonials to help you drum up new business.

Commercial Photography Tips

Now that we’ve covered how to get started in commercial photography, here are a few tips that will help you take your photos to the next level.

Keep Your Gear In Top Shape

The most important tip we have for you is to keep your gear in top shape. Having a variety of lenses as well as lights and other photography gear will ensure you can take photos in any condition. Keep in mind that if you aren’t ready to buy new gear, you can rent it depending on the type of photography session you have scheduled.

Hone Your Skills

It’s important to keep developing and honing your photography skills. Take extra courses, watch YouTube videos, invest in photography books, and experiment in your free time.

Check out our list of the best places to learn photography online.

Photo by Andrew Barrowman on Unsplash

Understand Camera Settings

If you’re just getting started with commercial photography, you need to have a thorough understanding of your camera settings. This will help you adjust them appropriately for different types of commercial photography as well as different photography conditions.

Understand The Lighting

No matter what type of commercial photography you’re doing, one thing is sure: the best light is dependent on the situation. In some cases, natural light will produce better results. In others, you might need a few artificial lights to make a flattering image. 

Practice Prop Styling

If your dream is to shoot product or food photography, then knowing how to properly style a photo is a must. Experiment and practice in your own free time. More, ensure the final photos are aesthetically pleasing both to your client and their clients or customers. 

Start with Modula

After all this good work, I advise you to create an online portfolio with your pictures. First of all, create a website where publish your images. Manage your photos in WordPress and show people your work. Then, install Modula, the most user-friendly WordPress Gallery plugin. Why? Thanks to its many functionalities, Modula has managed to gain the trust of over 70,000 users.

Modula Gallery Image

Having fun with Modula can be one of the most important functionalities. You can drag and drop your images, resize them, play with filters, mix video and photos, and many other alternatives that can create a stunning image gallery. Hop in the remarkable features of this fantastic plugin.

Final thoughts

Commercial photography is a lucrative opportunity that encompasses several different sub-genres. With the tips shared in this article, the right equipment, a bit of practice, and the Modula plugin installed, you’ll be well on your way towards becoming a commercial photography pro. 

It may also interest you how to create an authenticity certificate for your photography, how to watermark your photos, or using aerial photography to build up your portfolio.