What is Commercial Photography?
Even professionals in the photography industry often get confused with the definition of commercial photography. As the term commercial usually alludes to sales or the process of running a business, most would assume that any photography used to earn profits can be classified as commercial photography. This cannot be further from the truth.
Before we dig deeper into what commercial photography is, let us first identify what it is not.
- B2C Photography
Business-to-client photography is often confused as commercial photography as it is profit driven. However, B2C photography is actually the complete opposite of commercial photography. This is where a photographer provides services to a client who wants images for personal use.
- Editorial Photography
Editorial photography is also often mistaken as commercial photography. While both do feature products, the differentiating factor between the two types of photography is ultimately the narrative. An editorial photography focuses more on the story while commercial photography focuses solely on the products or brands it is featuring. It is safe to say that editorial photographers take images that tell stories rather than to sell something.
Of course, there are times when photographers who take portrait images choose to profit from these images by selling them for commercial use. This practice creates a thin line between portrait photography and commercial photography. But it is effective to say that these images fall under both categories. If you are looking for a photographer who can achieve these dual purposes, make sure to choose someone who can handle the intricacies between the two categories effectively while still alluding to the selling of your products or services.
- Commercial Photography
Commercial photography includes taking photographs of products or individuals that will be used to sell products and/or services. It follows a B2B (business-to-business) structure and involves taking images for commercial use. This includes advertisements, products placements, and merchandising. Some examples that can be seen in day-to-day life include brochures and leaflets for corporate use and menus in restaurants and cafés.
Clients seeking commercial photography services could be looking for anything. They may seek for images that are polished and stylised, plain and natural, or raw and gritty. The company’s brand and purposes often dictate the style and the direction of the photoshoot. It is important to note that companies hire commercial photographers to create a certain mood that will persuade their target audience into buying their products or employing their services.
Why Hire a Commercial Photographer?
Now that we have established the definition of commercial photography, let us talk about why you should hire a commercial photographer. As mentioned previously, commercial photography follows a business-to-business structure. There are a lot of ways where images can be used to market products, brands, services, or even people. If you are a business owner, here are some of the reasons why you should consider hiring a commercial photographer.
- You are Selling a Product
Product images are one of the most important factors for potential customers to make an immediate value judgment of your products. Regardless of whether the value judgment of your products is a fair assessment, it is undeniable that your images are an important starting conversation between you and potential buyers. A good commercial photograph helps you establish a reputable brand.
- You are Promoting a Business
Images can help you share information, ideas or educate others about your business. The key is not to simply have high-quality images, but images that effectively build your credibility and brand. Use your images to bond with prospective customers.
- You are Selling Fashion Products
Fashion photography is one of the most popular commercial photography. It is different from editorial photography, as it highlights products more so than the narrative. It involves making people stand out with the clothes or fashion accessories that are being highlighted. The focus is on these products, more so than the models. The line of focus between the two is so thin that if one is not careful, focus can easily be given to the models rather than the fashion products. This is why it is important to have an experienced commercial photographer that can help you distinguish the line between the two.
- You are Selling Food
Restaurants and café owners often hire commercial photographers to promote food. The goal is to create attractive images of food that would draw customers’ attention, trigger their appetite and instil the desire to carve them down! While not necessary, it would be an advantage to have a food stylist to get improve the visuals of your food. Most importantly, a good lighting is important to make your food look enticing.
- You are Selling Ideas
Commercial photographer is also important to sell ideas. Unlike product photography where you try to sell a product through an image, selling ideas through effective use of images is more challenging. Photographers who want to promote ideas often have more creative freedom to interpret ideas to be presented visually.
- Industrial Photography vs Commercial Photography
Both industrial and commercial photographers capture images of architectural structures and buildings for business owners. However, industrial photographers often shoot development sites. The images they make are often used for publicity purposes. On the contrary, commercial photographers shoot buildings for commercial purposes. Perhaps by showing the architectural design, or by showing the appeal of a retail store. The idea is to showcase the buildings where products or a brand is physically located.
What You Need to Know about Commercial Photography
Since it follows a B2B structure, commercial photography often costs more than B2C photography. Aside from equipment rentals, catering, and crew fees, expenses also include licensing and creative charges. If you live in Singapore, prices could range from $500-$10,000. Fees often depend on the intricacies of the project.
It is best to acquire quotes from commercial photographers before hiring one. This way, you can discuss the approach and treatment of your photographs, the nature of your project, the estimated hours or days of work needed, and the number of photos required. You also have to expect additional fees that may be applied even if they were not discussed in your initial discussion. As each project is unique and requires different treatments, some projects may need special equipment or even hiring other specialists to assist with the project along the way.
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