9 Most Common Types of Commercial Photography

If you are a photographer seeking to start a career in commercial photography, then you probably know the benefits and opportunities that come with it.

Whether you are looking to earn more money or to get more business opportunities, taking photos for commercial usage can put your expertise to test, while adding amazing photographs to your portfolio.

Today, our lives are filled with captured memories of great moments bound to a social media post or a single print photograph. In other words, we are living in a world soaked with still images. Wherever you look, you are bound to see a photo with a piece of inspiration.

Generally, photography has made a great impact on our society. And this is not just in our everyday life, photography has also significantly influenced many industries. It has truly stepped up its game and changed our world for the better.

One of the many industries photography has influenced exceptionally is advertisement, or in other words, marketing industry. Since its invention, photography has now become a fundamental part of promoting a business.


What Is Commercial Photography?

In a nutshell, commercial photography is a photography genre that focuses on creating high-quality photos for business or commercial use. Every business, in this internet age, needs high-quality images to promote, market, and sell their products or services online. 

A restaurant or café, for example, wants to display their food attractively, to draw their clients in with appetising food photographs. That is where a commercial food photographer comes in.  

Furthermore, businesses and marketers worldwide use commercial photography to promote their brands, offers, or lifestyle. In case you haven’t realised, commercial photographs are those we often see on stock photography websites, such as Unsplash, Envato Elements, Adobe Stock, and Shutterstock, to name a few.

commercial food photography
Photo Shutterstock: Commercial food photographer at work.

To excel in commercial photography, you must be aware of various scenarios you may come across as a commercial photographer. Let’s begin with some of the key benefits, followed by 9 common types of commercial photography, and finish with some popular camera recommendations for professional photography.

Why Is Commercial Photography So Important?

Just as I’ve mentioned above, the dawn of new technology and the invention of photography has hugely influenced the marketing landscape. It has permanently changed the way we advertise and sell offers.

Here’s a list of 4 key benefits of commercial photography to remind you of how important this photography genre is.

4 Key Benefits of Commercial Photography

01. Improves your corporate image

Commercial photography improves your corporate image or credibility because it allows you to display your offers professionally. Also, in this internet marketing age, people are more likely to judge your brand based on the quality of your photographs. 

The rule of thumb is that the better your photographs, the more professional you will look. Nevertheless, commercial photography also helps the community to understand your brand more effectively.

02. Promotes your brand recognition

In general, photographs can leave a long-lasting impression to viewers, especially your customers, but only when they are done right. They can also help significantly in boosting a company’s overall sales. 

Moreover, posting susceptible images consistently can boost your brand recognition. In other words, high-quality images establish a great or a professional impression, while low-quality or amateur-looking images do quite the opposite.

03. Improves your brands’ online presence and authority

Many brands achieve this by publishing or sharing photographs of their events on social media. If your business is planning an event, you can consider hiring a commercial photographer to capture the best moments throughout the event.

You can then post those captured memories on your social media platforms, publish them on your site, or even use them on your marketing brochures to improve your brands’ authority.  

04. Boosts your overall sales and ROI

It has been repeatedly proven, according to several past and present market research, that potential prospects are more likely to click on professionally looking images than the other way around.

This indicates that even though you may get some clicks on other photographs, high-quality images accompanied by great captions or great product descriptions are often a perfect combination for boosting your overall sales and ROI.

9 Common Types of Commercial Photography

Professional photography has become a fiercely competitive industry ever since the wake of digital marketing. There are several different commercial photography types, but mastering all of them is not a walk in the park.

Each type has its different set of rules, market trends, and elements that you need to acknowledge to execute perfectly. To become successful in commercial photography, it is best to start with one or two niches. 

Once you have decided your niche, create a portfolio based on your best work: There are several free web designing tools, such as WordPress, Weebly, and WIX, for instance, that can help you create and host your portfolio for free or paid premium. With that out of the way, I am now happy to present 9 common commercial photography:

  1. Advertising photography  
  2. Food photography
  3. Fashion photography
  4. Real estate photography
  5. Product photography
  6. Lifestyle photography
  7. Drone photography
  8. Environmental portraits
  9. Commercial headshots

Advertising Photography

This photography type often revolves around promoting products and services offered by certain companies, particularly editorials, such as newspapers and magazines. Advertising photography, however, is not limited to print media.

We see them all over the web, on social media, e-commerce websites, and on mobile applications. The primary objective of advertising photography is to display the kind of lifestyle the brand is promoting, while selling the products or services.  

Moreover, advertising photographs are more extravagant and bold. They should be good enough to stand out in large and fierce marketing competition. A photo-shoot can take place indoors or outdoors, and as such, photographers must be highly-skilled in working with both natural and artificial light.  

Food Photography

This has no much difference from the usual food photography, the ones we often see and click on Facebook and Instagram. The only difference is that, unlike taking food photographs for fun, you get paid by different brands to capture outstanding images of their food to create the best impression.

As a professional photographer, if you have ever tried this commercial photography type, then you probably know how difficult it is to get the perfect shot. It takes skills and experience to make food look this enticing to viewers:

Food photography
Commercial Food Photography

Commercial food photographers usually work with food stylists to make the food pop, making the viewer’s mouth watery. In addition to taking photos of food, you also need to take shots of the subject editorial restaurant.

This means that as a commercial food photographer, you should be able to set up your camera in a restaurant and adjust the light accordingly for the best results.

Fashion Photography 

Fashion commercial photography is all about making a product or outfit stand out from the competition. You can hire models to pose wearing certain brand outfits like shoes or dresses, or use a specific product.

If you enjoy taking photographs of people and portraits, then this type of commercial photography suits you well. Fashion photo shoots can also be carried out indoors or outdoors. 

A possible tricky part could be to provide posing directions, as every shot should be unique. Creativity is therefore a very useful talent for this type of work.    

Real Estate Photography

Architectural or real estate photography involves capturing the structure of a property (a home or an apartment) for commercial purposes, such as selling, or renting out. 

This commercial photography type requires you to capture a property with so much detail that there isn’t the need for visiting the location and looking around to get the idea. 

Moreover, the current trend in real estate photography is 360-degree photography, in which prospective buyers can see a 360-degree view of a property. 

Just as important as it is to customers, it is equally important for real estate brands, as you are already presenting everything a buyer needs to make a well informed decision. 

As a commercial real estate photographer, you will work in rural and urban locations with a limited timeframe. And you will also work with both natural and artificial lighting with different camera lenses. 

Nevertheless, a clever artist would include some people in the shot to present a more realistic photograph showing how life would look like when living in that space.

Product Photography 

This type of commercial photography is among the most demanding at the marketplace today. Every entrepreneur wants to professionally list products on their e-Commerce website. Therefore, they will hire an expert product photographer to help them display the best of their products.  

Most commercial product photography shoots often take place in studios with solid backgrounds, mostly a white background. With such an advantage, you can get creative and add the right object placement around a product to boost the overall appeal.   

Lifestyle Photography 

Lifestyle photography typically focuses on capturing people in real-life situations. The idea, as Mark DeLong, one of the world’s premiere photo artists and lifestyle photographers, describes it, is to portray a slice of life

The goal is to share interesting stories of a person’s lifestyle for inspiration. A lifestyle photography session often involves a family, especially the kids, performing usual family activities in an inviting way. 

As a commercial lifestyle photographer, your job is to capture that particular family while in action. And in addition to that, you need to do it in a way that gives viewers a sense of who they are and how they interact with one another.

Lastly, lifestyle photo shoots can take place indoors or outdoors, and it is very important to make it look more natural for a successful outcome. A great photography session includes some perfect shots that portray a picture of what life looks like with that family. 

Drone Photography

You have probably seen one of those amazing photographs from a seemingly impossible perspective. And if you have ever wondered how it was possible to capture such a shot; the answer; aerial or drone photography.

There is often that feeling of curiosity about the things that are beyond our capabilities. I mean, it is possible to visit different beautiful locations. But just how often do we see such beauty (see the photograph below) from a bird’s eye view? The answer, again, is drone photography.   

Drone photography can be defined as the art of using a remote control aircraft that is fitted with a camera (a bird’s eye) to capture aerial still images. It is the latest trending of commercial photography. However, it works best with tourism, events, and real estate photography genres.  

Additionally, drones are relatively new to the industry and may require more practice to understand how to manipulate them to capture the best shots. Nevertheless, drone photographers are usually up against nature. 

This means that a photographer’s end results could be affected depending on the type of environment they are in. Tip: If you are considering this type of commercial photography, it would be best to work with a skilled drone photography expert to avoid the guesswork and to get quality results.

Environmental Portraits

Also known as corporate or workplace photography, this commercial photography type means capturing portraits of people while at their workplace.

Taking photographs of an office worker at his desk, a chef in the kitchen, a pilot inside the aircraft, or a teacher at school, are examples of workplace or environmental portraits. The objective is to display the corporate image of the brand and their services or offers.

As a corporate photographer, your job is to display a behind-the-scenes view of the specific brand and its offers, while portraying a unique feeling about the brand. These photographs are usually used on websites, marketing ads, brochures, and other business promotional materials. 

Commercial Headshots

Commercial headshots or rather modern portraits, is another very common type of commercial photography that focuses on promoting a person’s products, and or services.

These professional photographs are popularly used in resumes, personal websites, brochures, or social media. Headshots are usually captured from the shoulders going upwards and a shooting often takes place in studios, although it can still be done anywhere. 

Furthermore, capturing portraits can be fun and a bit tricky at the same time. You will need to connect well with your clients, ensuring that they are comfortable in front of your camera and provide directions for great shots.  

What Is the Average Cost for a Commercial photographer?

Commercial photographer’s fees range from $100 to $400 per hour, according to recent studies. The exact cost, however, varies by region, zip code, and the photographer.

The average market price for a commercial photographer, however, rests comfortably at $150 per hour. To hire the best commercial photographer with quality camera and equipment, to capture great photographs, you will likely spend anything between $100 and $400 per hour.

Which Is the Best Right Camera for Commercial Photography?

Choosing the right camera for different types of commercial photography is essential for your photography business. For product photography, for example, you need a camera that has great white balance settings because you are mostly going to work in studios with artificial lights.

best commercial photography camera
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

You need a camera that provides high-quality images, and can allow for several lens choices, so you can tune in your aperture and blur any background. Further, taking photographs of products is an in-demand job for professional photographers.

Whether the photo is for the brand’s website, billboard, or social media post, it is especially critical to make the product look as attractive as possible to their audience. And to get the best outcome, you will need a professional camera for the job. 

Here are some professional camera recommendations that are great for any type of commercial photography: 

Camera Specifications Cost
Nikon Z9 Mirrorless Camera 
  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Resolution: 45.7 MP
  • Sensor: Full-frame
  • Viewfinder: 3.6M dot Electronic viewfinder
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 120 fps (frames per second)
  • Video resolution: up to 8K (30p)
  • Gross weight: 2.9 Ibs
  • Cost: $5,496.95 (on Amazon)
Selling at $5,496.95 on Amazon
Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera
  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Resolution: 24.1 MP
  • Sensor: Full-frame
  • Viewfinder: 5.7M dot electronic viewfinder
  • Continuous shooting speed: up to 195 fps “custom mode”
  • Video resolution: up to 6K (60p)
  • Gross weight: 2.3 Ibs
  • Cost: $6,899 (on Amazon)
Selling at $6,899.00 on Amazon
Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Camera
  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Resolution: 50 MP
  • Sensor: Full-frame
  • Viewfinder: 9.44M dot electronic viewfinder
  • Continuous shooting speed: up to 30 fps (frames per second)
  • Video resolution: up to 8K (30p)
  • Gross weight: 1.6 Ibs
Selling at $6,498.00 on Amazon

Nikon Z9 Mirrorless Camera

Nikon has long been trying to keep up with Canon and Sony. The two brands had a head start with mirrorless digital cameras, which is why the Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera seems surprising to many people. 

With groundbreaking features and high image quality, the latest Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera has put up a great fight and holds a good position in the fierce competition. Not long ago, many people, including myself, thought that 24 fps was impressive enough.

The Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera, however, can shoot up to 120 fps in still photos. That’s up to four times more! Furthermore, with autofocus, the company designed a deep learning algorithm that can automatically track numerous subjects, such as people, animals, and even fast-moving vehicles.  

Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera

Due to their top performance, Canon has long been photographers’ favourite professional camera brand, especially for product, fashion, headshot, and food photographers.

Its latest mirrorless camera release, the Canon EOS R3, continues with the brand’s remarkable tradition. And along with an impressive 1053 autofocus points, the EOS R3 comes with several other features that make image shooting more intuitive and faster. 

It can detect any subject accurately, including human beings, animals, and vehicles. It also features an eye control AF; it can automatically select the focus points by simply following eye gestures or movements.

Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Camera

Sony has been leading in mirrorless digital cameras for decades. One of their newest releases, the Sony Alpha 1 or a1 mirrorless camera is a peak of the company’s imaging technology prowess.

Moreover, the Sony a1 is a high-performance device designed with several features that make shooting in any scenario, or situation much easier. With 50MP sensors, you can easily capture anything, from commercial portraits, to food and fashion, and even lifestyle.

The Sony a1 has an ISO range of between 50 and 104000 and also features Pixel Shift Multi-shooting. This mirrorless camera allows you to combine up to 16 RAW files to design one extremely high-resolution image. 

Final Thoughts

From what we have seen above, from the importance of commercial photography and the common types, I believe we have learned how much photography can influence a brand’s marketing campaigns. 

A single photograph, captured by a professional camera by an expert photographer, can make your audience fall in love with your offer and the brand itself. Professional photographs will improve your marketing campaigns, so make sure that you have the best ones to put out. 

Lastly, you should not forget about the damage that may occur to your brand’s image because of using amateur-looking photographs. To avoid such problems, you can consider working with or hiring an expert photographer who can promise the best outcome.