When it comes to advertising photography, little attention is paid to the actual technicalities, and this leaves a lot of room for substandard work.

Hiring a commercial photographer doesn’t make much sense to an average SMB, but they do wonder why their marketing material isn’t up to the mark when it is compared with premium brands.

You don’t need to be a subject matter expert to understand why bigger businesses are all in when it comes to investing a little premium when hiring advertising photography services– To sell products! 

These businesses have CFOs lashing out for every financial misadventure, and today, we will have a look at why you need an advertising photographer to get the desired outcome when wooing consumers.

Let’s see how the advertising photography industry works, and it can help create value for your company:

Table of contents

Why Should You Hire A Professional Advertising Photographer?

We might have heard endless times that humans are visual creatures, but we hardly understand how deep visuals run under us.

Right from making paintings on caves to selfies, we are all communicating visually on a daily basis. But when it comes to extracting commercial value, things have gotten far more sophisticated than before.

Earlier in the ’70s, a person was exposed to over 500 advertisements on a daily basis. 500 ads per day sound mind-boggling until you learn that today:

…an average person is exposed to 5000 ads on a daily basis…

If you are willing to invest in marketing material for your next ad campaign, visuals should be on the top positions of your priority list.

This is especially important to your success since our brain processes images 60,000x quicker than texts. Even when weighing between video and images as visual media forms, you should give priority to still images.

They make it easy for the viewer to focus and comprehend the concepts, unlike videos where one might have to pause/rewind to notice certain aspects. 

Today, everyone has got a decent camera setup on their phones, but clicking eye-catching life moments and posting them online doesn’t make one a professional photographer. Have a look at this headshot from the movie Joker (2019):

Joker | advertising photography
From IMDB

Do you think that such an artistic-looking photograph is clicked by a fluke? Or if it is good-looking solely because it is in line with the Gothic fashion and Joaquin Phoenix?

From BHG

The simple answer is that there were a lot of professionals that looked after everything in the frame, right from composition techniques to lighting for making it look jaw-dropping.

This Joker still also harnessed the color wheel principle we can see on the right, of using colors located on opposite ends.

Thus, when looking to run an ad campaign, it would be in your best interest to hire a professional advertising photographer.

A professional advertising photographer understands how the audience will react to different aspects of a photo like exposure, color saturation, contrast, and focus in a particular niche, which is what advertising photography is all about.

They are also well versed with the platform-specific standards, which ensures that their work is in line with the push and pulls it can potentially face. This makes an incredible case for hiring an advertising photographer over doing it yourself.

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When it comes to commercial photography, there are many niches that act as specialization domains for both photographers and brands.

Each of them serves an entirely different consumer base, and they are all focused on instilling a unique set of values. Here are a few popular niches for advertising photographers that you can refer to:

Lifestyle Photographer

These photographers interweave the experience of actually using a specific product with the help of models to help viewers create scenarios where they visualize themselves in the frame.

They work on a wide variety of services and products like resorts, clubs, artifacts, custom items, or even clothing but with the models imitating or inspiring the actual buyers.

They lean more towards creating an emotional experience rather than focusing on the item itself.

Here’s an alluring piece of photographic art from Adidas, a brand that seems like it’s meant to serve athletes but is indeed a lifestyle brand. Its visual content stands witness to its vision and is well reflected in the appeal they create:

Photo by Nadav Kander

Product Photographer

A product photographer exclusively focuses on the products and tries to highlight their features. These photos are used for commercial purposes and aid in the decision-making process in the form of catalogs and product manuals.

They may or may not render artistic value, but in most cases, they extend a functional value addition. Thus a product photographer keeps the end user’s concerns and benefits at the center when capturing photos.

In yet another example coming from a footwear brand, you can clearly find that the entire emphasis is laid on the product. Every other aspect acts as a value addition to the product and is solely meant to enhance the product’s visualization:

Photo from Behance

Fashion Photographer

As the name indicates, a fashion photographer emphasizes attire, jewelry, and other accessories. They work with professional models, and everything, including makeup and location, is predetermined by respective professionals.

Aesthetic appeal and the ability to attract paying customers for a fashion product is a lucrative career option as well.

Fashion photography requires one to use the model as a prop and it interweaves artistic qualities with the clothing. In the below example, you can see that the attire is enhanced with the sole motive of adding aesthetic appeal:

From Adorama

No doubt, there are a lot more areas where one can specialize as a photographer; one needs to keep in mind that as long as there is an audience, you can find rewarding opportunities in advertising photography.

What Drives The Commercial Photography Industry? 

Everybody, right from art directors to brand managers and creative directors working in a top-notch agency and even independent advertising photographers, are all driven by a marketing strategy

There are factors like the brand image, the qualities that are to be put on a showcase, and the idea behind creating a connection with the customer are the major drivers behind the commercial photography industry

It is indeed oriented towards value creation, but the technicalities require one to consider a lot of aspects that go way beyond the lens.

For example, the story that you want to convey is equally important as the particular product or the models. Keeping the end consumer at the core of advertising photography is yet another way of defining how the priorities are set in this sector.

On the flip side, the success of the undertaken campaigns, revenue generation, lifetime value of the work, and compensation yielded against the service are the monetary factors that need to be taken care of. 

Also, the abstract sides such as establishing relationships, nurturing the purpose of connecting with a brand, and fostering trust are among the top driving factors for this industry. Thus, we can consider that commercial photography is a healthy mix of artistic and financial values.

What Does It Take To Be a Commercial Photographer? 

One needs to understand that undertaking a course or degree program for advertising photography-related careers isn’t the smartest way out. You just need to be a bit creative and receptive to what your target audience values.

For example, a photo intended to boost sales for a health tonic should lay down enough emphasis on the models as much as the product since emotions are the true conversion drivers. Such basic principles are common across both print and digital media, so it is better to get started with hands-on internships. 

Professional courses and formal education can be good choices given that you choose a reputed institute that actually teaches you what the industry demands, and more importantly, it helps you secure your first job. 

The salary data for these job roles isn’t going to be available to the extent of regular profiles, but you can be sure of drawing a decent paycheck once you are around for a considerable period. 

You can get started with a few educational videos on YouTube or Udemy and create a basic portfolio that you can use to get an internship or freelance projects.

Initially, you should focus on synchronizing with industry standards. Eventually, you will develop an understanding of the work ethics, networking, liaison, operational, and commercial side of the business. 

For example, redistribution of your work on a business website, social media, and messenger platforms requires many tweaks, and you might want to keep all their constraints in your mind before getting started with the work.

Such command over clicking photographs can only be curated with continuous exposure that you can get with on-the-job training.

End of Roll

Throughout the article, we have repeatedly stressed one point: advertising photography is a very broad yet specialized domain. One needs to explore it enough before joining the industry, and even as a potential client, one needs to have industry know-how. We hope that this article provides you an overview of the world of advertising photography and helps you understand why it is a booming sector.