· ·

We Explain the Difference Between Commercial Photography and Advertising

In marketing, photography is crucial in capturing the essence of products and services, evoking emotions, and grabbing consumers’ attention. Two commonly used types are commercial and advertising photography – each with distinct purposes and techniques.

But what sets them apart? This article explains the differences between commercial photography and advertising. Explores their unique elements and applications and provides tips on selecting the right style for your business needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Commercial photography showcases products or services through photos for promotional purposes. While advertising, photography creates an emotional connection with the viewer and increases brand awareness through visual representation.
  • Commercial photography has a broader range of applications, from product catalogs to corporate headshots, to capturing high-quality product images. The differences between commercial and advertising photography lie in their purpose, with the latter specifically designed to create photos for marketing campaigns.
  • Elements of commercial photography include product, real estate, and corporate photography. Advertising photography includes fashion, lifestyle, and editorial photography.
  • When choosing between commercial and advertising photography for a client, it’s essential to consider their goals, target audience, budget, timeline, intent, and end-user.

Understanding The Difference Between Commercial Photography And Advertising

Commercial photography showcases a product or service, while advertising photography creates an emotional connection.

Commercial photography primarily focuses on capturing the essence of a product or service, highlighting its features and benefits for potential customers. It’s used in promotional materials such as brochures, catalogs, online stores, and social media platforms.  

On the other hand, advertising photography goes beyond simply displaying the product. It aims to evoke specific emotions within viewers by creating an inviting narrative or atmosphere around it.

This type of photography is essential in establishing brand identity and appealing directly to consumers’ desires or aspirations.

Advertising photographers are essential in creating stunning visuals that a company can use in advertising campaigns to attract and engage potential customers.

An example would be when an advertising photographer captures lifestyle images for a high-end fashion campaign. Images could include opulent locations with professional models donning stylish outfits. The strong visual storytelling transports potential buyers into luxurious scenarios they might associate themselves with if they purchase the items on display.

Commercial Photography Has A Wider Range Of Applications, While Advertising Photography Is Specifically Designed For Marketing

Commercial photography, including advertising campaigns, encompasses a broad spectrum of applications. Businesses often use it to showcase their products or services in the best possible light.

Businesses use Commercial Photographs in various ways, such as product catalogs, real estate listings, corporate headshots, and even restaurant menus.

On the other hand, advertising photography heavily emphasizes marketing and brand promotion. Its purpose is to capture compelling images that provoke specific emotions or spark interest in potential customers, ultimately driving them to purchase a product or service.

Examples of advertising photography include:

  • Eye-catching fashion magazine spreads.
  • Lifestyle photos for billboards.
  • Editorial shots used in online advertisements.

Elements & Examples Of Commercial Photography

Commercial photography includes product photographyreal estate photography, and corporate photography.

Product Photography

Product photography is a critical aspect of commercial photography that focuses on capturing products’ essence and features. This type of photography is commonly used for e-commerce websites, catalogs, brochures, and other promotional materials to showcase items in their best possible light.

A skilled product photographer understands how crucial lighting techniques, background selection, and composition are when working with various items ranging from clothing to electronics or even food products. They also know how to apply different photography styles for promotional photography purposes.

For instance, commercial photographers might use softboxes or reflectors to create clean shadows and make the subject stand out against its backdrop. That will help customers understand what they’re purchasing online or viewing in print advertisements.

Real Estate Photography

Real estate photography is a type of commercial photography that showcases properties, both residential and commercial. It captures the entire space, from wide shots to close-ups of specific features or details.

Real estate photographers typically use wide-angle lenses and multiple flashes to capture a flattering property representation. The goal is to entice potential buyers or renters by creating visually appealing images that allow them to envision themselves in the space.

Corporate Photography

Corporate photography is a type of commercial photography that focuses on capturing images for businesses, corporations, and organizations. These photographs are for branding purposes such as annual reports, press releases, or marketing campaigns.

For example, a corporate photographer may take portraits of key executives in the business or capture employees working together to show teamwork. They may also photograph events such as conferences or company parties to highlight the atmosphere and culture within the organization.

Elements & Examples Of Advertising Photography

Advertising photography includes fashion, lifestyle, and editorial photography. These photographs intend to tell a captivating story and evoke specific emotions in the viewer.

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography is a subcategory of advertising photography that focuses on showcasing clothing and accessories aesthetically pleasingly.

It’s all about creating visual interest and allure for the viewer, often with highly stylized models and eye-catching poses. Fashion photographers are responsible for capturing images that evoke a certain mood or emotion, simultaneously showcasing and highlighting the products.

They must work well with models, makeup artists, and stylists to create cohesive looks and ensure everything seamlessly works during photo shoots.

Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography is advertising photography that aims to capture people in their natural settings. It often features models or actors styled to look like they are going about their daily lives, organically using and enjoying products.

Lifestyle photography aims to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the advertised product. This type of photography is seen in print ads, online marketing campaigns, and even on social media platforms like Instagram.

For example, a clothing brand may use lifestyle photography to showcase their new collection by photographing models wearing the clothes while doing everyday activities such as walking their dog or having coffee with friends.

Editorial Photography

Editorial photography is advertising photography that aims to tell a story or deliver a message through imagery. It shows real-life situations and people in unscripted environments, often portraying social or cultural issues.

Examples of editorial photography include photojournalism, documentary-style work, portraits of public figures, and event coverage. They should evoke emotions from the viewers while delivering an intended message.

Choosing The Right Photography For A Business Client

When choosing between commercial and advertising photography for a business client, it’s vital to determine their goals, target audience, budget, timeline, intent, style, and end-user to maximize the effectiveness of their marketing campaign.

Determine Their Goals And Target Audience

When choosing the right type of photography for your business client, it’s crucial to understand their goals and target audience. Are they selling a product or service? Who is their ideal customer? By understanding these key factors, you can determine whether commercial or advertising photography would be more effective in achieving their objectives.

For example, commercial photography may be best if your client wants to showcase a specific product for a catalog. However, advertising photography is best for creating a memorable brand identity that appeals to an audience through ads or billboards.

Consider Their Budget And Timeline

It’s crucial to consider a business client’s budget and timeline when choosing the proper photography for them. If they have a limited budget, it may be more practical to go with commercial photography as it requires fewer resources overall.

On the other hand, advertising photography often involves large-scale productions and can be expensive but may bring about higher ROI in marketing efforts.

Additionally, considering their timeline is important as some types of photography require longer preparation time than others. For instance, editorial or lifestyle photography might take longer compared to product photography which focuses on individual items that are easier to prepare for shooting.

Determine Intent, Style, And End-user

When working with a business client, it’s essential to determine their intent for the photography and who their target end-user is. That will help you decide on the appropriate style of photography to use.

For example, if a business wants to showcase its products in a catalog or online store, commercial photography focusing on individual products would be ideal.

It’s also important to consider the intended end-user when deciding on the style of photography. For instance, younger audiences respond well to modern and inventive techniques, while older generations prefer classic and traditional approaches.

Importance Of Understanding The Difference

Understanding the difference between commercial photography and advertising is crucial in maximizing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and utilizing each type’s unique strengths.

Maximizing The Effectiveness Of Marketing Campaigns

Understanding the difference between commercial photography and advertising is crucial to maximizing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. By selecting the appropriate type of photography, businesses can better connect with their target audience and create an impactful visual representation of their products or services.

Understanding The Unique Strengths Of Each Type Of Photography

Commercial and advertising photography offer distinct strengths that serve different purposes in marketing. Commercial photography is about showcasing a product or service, focusing on the best possible light to capture each product element.

Advertising photography, on the other hand, aims to create a unique brand identity for products or services by using creative visuals. The photoshoots are designed to evoke specific emotions and tell captivating stories that will resonate with potential customers.

A successful advertising photograph should be memorable and grab people’s attention instantly, whether displayed on billboards, magazines, or online ads.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between commercial photography and advertising is crucial for any professional photographer. While both have unique strengths and elements, commercial photography showcases a product or service in its best light. In contrast, advertising photography aims to create an emotional connection with consumers through captivating visuals.

By considering a client’s goals, target audience, budget, and timeline, photographers can determine the intent and style needed to deliver outstanding results!

For more info Watch “What is the difference between commercial and advertising photography” below:


People may hire a commercial photographer to improve their business’s marketing and advertising campaigns and showcase their products or services in the best way possible.

Some common types of advertising include print ads, TV and radio commercials, billboards, and online ads.

Some key elements include creativity, the ability to grab the viewer’s attention, and conveying a specific message or emotion.

Product photography involves taking photographs of products to showcase them in the best way possible. It is essential because it can influence a customer’s decision to buy a product.

The style of commercial photography will vary depending on the product, but generally, it should be clean, clear, and visually appealing.

Although related, commercial and advertising photography have distinct purposes and goals.

Some key elements in a product photo include lighting, composition, color, and the ability to showcase the product in the best way possible.

Some common types of commercial photography include product, fashion, food, architectural, and event photography.

Commercial photography is a broader term encompassing all types of photography used for commercial purposes, whereas advertising photography focuses explicitly on using photographs to promote and sell products or services.

Commercial photography refers to taking photographs for commercial use, such as for advertisements, product packaging, and websites.

An experienced photographer has the expertise to understand how best to showcase your products or services visually while ensuring they align with your brand identity. They will also have access to professional-grade equipment that can make all the difference in image quality and clarity – which ultimately plays a significant role in attracting customers’ attention and driving results for your business.

Advertising photographers typically have a more creative approach to capturing attention and effectively promoting products or services. They may use dramatic lightingunusual angles, or unique settings to create dynamic images that stand out from the competition.

Commercial photography can be used for various purposes, including advertisements, packaging design, website content, social media marketing, and more.

Commercial photography focuses on capturing images for use in business, such as product photos or corporate headshots. Advertising photography, on the other hand, is specifically geared toward promoting a product or service through imagery.

Getting commercial photography clients requires a strategic approach. Networking is one of the most effective ways to get your name out there and land new business.

Attend industry events, join local photography organizations, and connect with other professionals in complementary fields, such as graphic designers or marketers. You can also establish an online presence by creating a website and social media accounts and showcasing your portfolio on popular photo-sharing platforms like Instagram or Flickr.

It’s important to note that finding clients is just half the battle – retaining them is equally crucial for building a successful career in commercial photography. Ensure you understand their needs, communicate effectively throughout the project timeline, and deliver high-quality results promptly while staying within budget constraints.

Having the proper training and experience is essential when starting in commercial photography. You can begin by attending a photography school or taking relevant courses online to improve your skills and knowledge of photography techniques.

Building a solid portfolio that showcases your photo work is also crucial for attracting clients, so try to gain exposure through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Another great way to get your foot in the door is by offering discounted rates or working with small businesses in your area. Networking with other photographers, models, and industry professionals is also valuable for building connections that could lead to new opportunities.

Commercial and advertising photographers can earn different salaries depending on their experience, location, and niche. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for commercial photographers is around $62,000 annually, while advertising photographers make an average of $70,500 annually.

However, these numbers can vary widely based on factors such as the type of photography work (e.g., product vs. fashion photography) and whether the photographer is freelance or employed by a company.

For example, some high-end fashion photographers are paid upwards of six figures for a single photo shoot.

When you follow a link to Amazon or any other affiliate sites from our website and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, which does not involve any additional cost to you. Here is a link to our full disclaimer.

Similar Posts