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What is commercial photography and what is not?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

What commercial photography is:

Commercial photography is typically anything to do with images for business.

Either promoting a person, place, product, or a service.

Some subjects that fall under the board commercial photography umbrella include things like: advertising, lifestyle, headshots, corporate events, press and PR, product, food, fashion, architectural, and property interiors photography.

The best commercial photographers will not photograph everything, but will specialise in one to three key areas of that list.

Some photographers will even be so niche as to only shoot advertising campaigns for aviation companies for example, or only photograph corporate headshots.

The photographs from a commercial shoot will typically be used for marketing and advertising, as well as on company websites (especially for things like headshots).

A lot of the photographs are used in a more strategic way for advertising online and on social media with more targeted ads.

However there is still a big use for the photos to be printed in magazines, marketing materials, or on traditional billboards, as well as being displayed on digital screens and other digital advertising media.

So in summery and to keep it simple, think “business use” when you think of commercial photography.

What commercial photography is not:

Things that are not considered to be commercial photography are subjects such as: weddings, family portraits, family lifestyle, pet photos, and new born photography.

Basically, anything outside the sphere of business is not considered to be commercial photography, and an established commercial photographer will most likely not shoot that kind of work.

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