What is Commercial Photography?

Photography is a relatively new art form with the first camera photos being taken during the 1820’s. Other art forms, like painting and sculpture, have roots in the stone-age, with sculpted fertility dolls and cave paintings. Since photography is a newer medium in art, there are a lot of questions surrounding the different categories of photography. One category in particular, commercial photography, seems to have a lot of grey areas in terms of its qualifications. The most basic definition of commercial photography is an image specifically made to make money.

That definition seems a bit obtuse but it is such a large category that one must be general when discussing commercial photography. One example of commercial work in photography is advertising photography. All of those popular ads you see on the subway and on billboards for big brands like, Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola, utilize an advertising photographer. Some of the photographers used for these big commercial campaigns belong to an advertising agency, other times, the brand may choose to use a well-known celebrity photographer, like, David LaChappelle or Terry Richardson to take the photos.

Commercial advertising photography can also coincide with fashion at times with product photography. Product photos are those images you see online, when shopping on ecommerce websites like Net-A-Porter or Amazon. These photos are taken in a studio with special care to show the garment or product in its best light so that customers will be more likely to purchase it.

Photography marketing is a huge force in advertising and commerce. Aside from shooting for large brands, commercial photography can also include the images taken for stock photography providers like Corbis and Getty Images. Photography is a vast world with so many different outlets for expression. Commercial photography is another area of this medium that continues to change and defy strict definitions. It will be interesting to see how we define this category of photography in ten years and whether or not it will start to blend in with fashion photography more and more. Photography is a fascinating medium that will to continue its reign of power in the world of image making for years and years to come.

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