A Beginner’s Guide to Commercial Photography: Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

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Are you interested in getting started with commercial photography? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Commercial photography can be an exciting and rewarding career path. It requires a unique combination of technical skills, creativity, and business savvy.

This guide will provide various tips and tricks to get your commercial photography business off the ground. It will cover everything from equipment selection to building your brand and finding clients. With these tools, you’ll be well on your way to success as a professional photographer!

What is commercial photography?

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Commercial photography is a type of photography that focuses on creating images for commercial use. Examples include product shots, lifestyle imagery, advertising campaigns, and corporate headshots. These images are typically used for marketing, public relations, and other business purposes.

The main goal of commercial photography is to create images that will help the client market their product or services. As such, the photographer must thoroughly understand the client’s needs and have a keen eye for detail. They must also be able to capture aesthetically pleasing images and accurately represent the client’s brand.

Importance of commercial photography

Because of its widespread use in marketing and advertising, commercial photography can be an invaluable tool for businesses. Images have the power to capture attention, convey messages, and evoke emotions. A great commercial photograph can be the difference between an ad campaign that falls flat and a huge success.

In art and culture, photography has been used to document and tell stories for many years. This can be a potent tool for businesses that want to stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression on their target audience. Creative commercial photographs can also show a company’s values or attract potential customers.

Of course, commercial photography plays a huge role in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. High-quality product shots can help bring the brand to life and entice potential customers. Stylish lifestyle shots can give a sense of the brand’s personality and create an emotional connection with the audience.

Types of Commercial Photography

Commercial photography is a broad term that covers many different types of photography. Because of this, it’s essential to understand the different kinds of commercial photography and how each can be used for a specific purpose. Some of the most common types include the following:

1. Product photography

Photographing products to show off their features and benefits in an appealing way. This type of photography is often used for e-commerce, advertising campaigns, and catalogs. This is important for getting customers to take notice and make a purchase. Many big businesses hire professional product photographers for this purpose.

a. Apple’s product photography

One of the most well-known examples of product photography is Apple’s highly detailed and aesthetically pleasing images. Apple has mastered the art of product photography, creating imagery that effectively conveys the quality of its tech products. White backgrounds and clever lighting techniques are used to emphasize the features of each product and create a sense of sophistication.

b. IKEA’s product photography

As a furniture giant, IKEA understands the importance of product photography. Its images are highly stylized, featuring colorful backgrounds and plenty of detail to showcase the product’s features. Their style of photography evokes a sense of warmth and happiness in their customers, encouraging them to make a purchase.

c. Adidas product photography

Adidas is another excellent example of a business that uses product photography. The brand’s bright and vibrant images highlight the features of its shoes and apparel. Different lighting techniques and angles are used to capture the unique characteristics of each piece.

Tips and tricks for product photography:

  • Lighting techniques

The right lighting can make all the difference when product photography. Make sure to find a light source that is bright and even to create a consistent look in your photos. Natural light is ideal for this type of photography, but you can also use studio lights depending on the branding.

  • Product placement

When taking product shots, make sure to pay attention to the placement of the object. This will ensure you capture a flattering angle and all of the product’s essential features. You may need to move and adjust the product several times before you get the perfect shot.

  • Image editing software

Most commercial photographers use image editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. This can help you touch up your images and ensure they look perfect before delivering them to the client.

2. Fashion photography

Compared to product photography, fashion photography focuses on capturing the beauty, style, and attitude of a model or group of models. This type of photography is used in the fashion industry, fashion magazines, and other publications. Many fashion photographers are highly sought after and can command high fees for their work.

a. Vogue Magazine’s fashion photography

Vogue magazine is one of the premier publications in the fashion industry. Its images are creative and stylish, showcasing the latest trends in high-class fashion. Its color, lighting, and styling have become iconic in the industry.

b. H&M’s fashion photography

A less glamorous example of fashion photography is H&M’s catalog images. These shots are typically more straightforward and less stylized, but they still capture the brand’s look and feel. H&M’s photos are also budget-friendly, making them accessible to many consumers.

c. Burberry’s fashion photography

Burberry is another fashion powerhouse that uses photography to showcase its products. Compared to the two, Burberry’s images are more professional and high-end. Evoking a sense of luxury, its images have become iconic in fashion.

Tips and tricks for fashion photography:

  • Lighting techniques

Like with product photography, lighting is an essential element of fashion photography. You want to create a sense of drama and atmosphere in your images, so make sure to pay attention to the type of light you’re using. Most fashion photography is done with studio lights and flashes, but you can also use natural light for a more subtle look.

  • Working with models

Working with models is a key part of fashion photography. Make sure to take the time to get to know your model and build a rapport before shooting. This will help create a comfortable atmosphere and ensure you capture the best possible images.

  • Post-production techniques

Enhancing your images post-production is essential for fashion photography. Due to the high demands of this type of photography, post-production can be used to make small adjustments that will help make your images pop. Some techniques may include skin retouching, color correction, and sharpening.

Man in Green and Brown Camouflage Jacket Holding Black Video Camera

3. Portrait photography

Portrait photography is the art of capturing a person’s face, personality, and emotion in an image. This type of photography is often used for family portraits, wedding photos, corporate headshots, and other special occasions. In business, portrait photography is essential for creating a strong sense of brand identity and personal connection with consumers.

a. Annie Leibovitz’s portrait photography

If you’re looking for an example of great portrait photography, look no further than Annie Leibovitz. Her images are iconic and timeless, capturing the personalities and emotions of her subjects. She is known for creating an atmosphere in her photos that speaks to the soul using natural light and simple but effective composition.

b. Richard Avedon’s portrait photography

Another great example of portrait photography is Richard Avedon’s work. His images are often minimalistic, featuring simple yet powerful compositions and creative lighting techniques. Black and white photography often adds a sense of drama and mystery to his work that is hard to replicate.

c. Platon’s portrait photography

Platon is a renowned portrait photographer who has worked with many high-profile clients. His images are creative and powerful, often featuring unique angles and lighting. He has a knack for capturing the personality and character of his subjects, which makes for some truly captivating images.

Tips and tricks for portrait photography:

  • Lighting techniques

Capturing faces in a flattering way is an essential part of portrait photography. You want to ensure the lighting is even and your subjects are adequately illuminated. Adding a fill light can help create depth and dimension in your photos.

  • Composition

When taking portrait shots, you want to ensure the composition is spot-on. You can experiment with angles, framing, and background to create a unique image that stands out. Some photographers also like to use props for an added touch of creativity.

  • Communication with the subject

When working with subjects, creating a comfortable atmosphere where they can relax and be themselves is important. Talking about their interests and getting to know their personality can help you capture a relaxed and natural portrait. Finding out what type of portrait the subject is looking for in advance will also help to ensure you capture their desired shot.

Essential Equipment for Commercial Photography

1. Camera

A camera is an essential piece of equipment for any photographer. You want to select a camera that meets your needs and has the features you’ll need for commercial photography. Different types of cameras can be used depending on the type of photography you’re doing.

  • DSLR cameras

Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are the most popular type of camera among professional photographers. They offer many features and options, making them ideal for commercial photography.

  • Mirrorless cameras

Another option is mirrorless cameras, which are becoming increasingly popular due to their small size and portability. They offer many of the same features as DSLRs but in a more compact package.

  • Digital point-and-shoot cameras

Stylized point-and-shoot cameras are another option. They’re less expensive and simpler to use, making them ideal for beginners. They create a smaller image file size but can still be used for commercial photography.

2. Lenses

The right lenses can make all the difference in your commercial photography. Different types of lenses can be used for different purposes, so invest in quality lenses that will help you get the desired results. Some popular lenses for commercial photography include wide-angle, macro, and zoom lenses. For beginners, a 50mm prime lens is often recommended.

3. Lighting equipment

Having the proper lighting setup can be essential for commercial photography. Different sources of light can be used to create the desired atmosphere and capture clear images. Many photographers use both natural light and studio lighting for commercial photography. Some popular lighting equipment includes strobes, soft boxes, and continuous lights.

4. Other accessories

When setting up for commercial photography, you may also need other accessories, such as tripods and reflectors. Tripods help to keep the camera steady and reduce camera shake. Reflectors can bounce light and create a more even illumination of the subject. Memory cards and batteries are also necessary for any photography session.

Tips and Tricks for Getting Started in Commercial Photography

1. Set clear goals

Setting clear goals for yourself before you start any commercial photography project is important. Decide what images you want to create and what type of clients you want to work with. This will help you stay focused and ensure you’re working towards something specific.

2. Learn the basics of photography

Not knowing the basics of photography can be a hindrance when it comes to commercial photography. Take the time to learn about exposure, aperture, and other essential photography concepts. This will help you create professional images that meet your clients’ needs. Some online courses or tutorials can help you get up to speed quickly.

3. Build a portfolio

Having a portfolio of your work is essential for any commercial photographer. This will help you to showcase your skills and get hired by potential clients. Start by creating a website and uploading some of your best work. Make sure to keep it updated with new projects so potential clients can see what you’re capable of.

4. Network with others in the industry

Networking is a great way to meet potential clients and build relationships in the industry. Join social media groups and online forums related to commercial photography and start engaging with others. This will help you learn about the industry, stay current on trends, and develop your skills.

5. Keep learning and experimenting

Finally, keep learning and experimenting with new techniques. That way, you can stay ahead of the competition and create unique images that will impress clients. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and explore new ideas. This will help you become a better photographer and make you stand out from the crowd.


Commercial photography plays a significant role in the business world. It creates a lasting impression on consumers, helps to build brand identity, and encourages customers to buy products or services. Different industries have different photography needs, so it’s important to understand the basics of each type of commercial photography. You can start your journey into commercial photography by setting goals, learning the basics, and building a portfolio.

To ensure success, always keep learning and experimenting with new techniques, and build relationships in the industry. With hard work and dedication, you can become a successful commercial photographer.

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