Difference Between Commercial and Advertising Photography – Chron | Ad On Picture

Through Updated February 19, 2019

Although some people use them interchangeably, commercial photography and advertising photography are quite different. As a business owner, it is important that you understand these specifics as they can come into play when you decide to use print and online advertising as a component of your marketing strategy. Commercial photography and advertising photography are both used for promotional purposes rather than to preserve memory as in fine art photography and photojournalism. However, the purpose and intent of the craft varies, as do the tools professionals in each style use to achieve their goals.

Commercial Photography Elements

Commercial photographers photograph buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes that are used, for example, for promotional purposes in books, reports, advertisements, and catalogues. A commercial photo is typically used in retail and wholesale and in sales materials or promotional activities. In advertising photography, the entire photo shoot is dedicated to the product being photographed.

Think of a stock photo you often see online when doing an image search for a specific product. This is a perfect example of a commercial photo because it’s all about presenting the essence of this product in the best possible way.

elements of advertising photography

The basic elements of advertising photography are to capture a mood, emotion or feeling that a product can evoke in a viewer. As the name suggests, commercial photographers are all about selling or appealing to a viewer’s instinct that would create a desire to buy. Whether the photograph is framed to look sexy, beautiful, or trendy, the overall effect is an incentive to take action, namely to buy. Commercial photographers approach their work as artists whose job is to tell a compelling story through the use of stylized imagery, color, lighting and framing.

Commercial Photography vs. Advertising Photography: Intention

One of the main differences between a commercial photo and a promotional photo is that Intention. The intention of advertising photography is to capture the essence of a product in the best possible way. In contrast, the intent of commercial photography is to persuade or persuade the viewer to have that product in their home.

Commercial photography vs. advertising photography: style

Another difference is that advertising photography is often a little more rigorous in the framing so that nothing distracts the viewer’s gaze from the product. As a result, the lighting, styling, and background are somewhat neutral in general. In advertising photography, on the other hand, the image design is often bolder, more imaginative and more stylized because it is not just about the viewer seeing the product, but about generating specific emotions.

Therefore, the techniques used in each of these photographic styles also differ. For example, a commercial photographer does not want to use blinding light packages in a shoot as it would overwhelm the product. This does not apply to advertising photographers, who have greater creative freedom to interpret how products, services, lifestyles and ideas can be presented photographically. Bold colors, multi-faceted lighting, and sharp contrasts between shadows and lights are all tools in the commercial photographer’s vast arsenal.

Commercial Photography vs. Advertising Photography: Consumers

The end user is also different in the commercial photography industry from the advertising photography industry. Commercial photographers generally take photos that are used for retail or promotional purposes only. However, companies looking to either sell products or market to new audiences typically hire commercial photographers.

For example, if you own a comic book store and want to showcase your new artist’s showroom, you would hire a commercial photographer to promote that feature. On the other hand, if you just won an auction to buy a rare edition of a popular comic, you would hire a commercial photographer to take photos of the edition to encourage viewers to buy it.

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