Photography Business: Learn Professional Commercial Digital Photography

Photography Business: Learn Professional Commercial Digital Photography
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How to Take Commercial Photographs

Professional commercial digital photography is distinguished from art photography by its purpose. The goal of this type of photography is to sell a particular item or service. The most common type of professional commercial photography is magazine photos, especially fashion photography. But, how do you take these photographs?

Figure Out What the Client Wants

The main goal of commercial photography is to learn the mood that your client wants to evoke. The mood affects everything from clothing to lighting to posing. For example, if you want to evoke a seductive mood, this may involve very dramatic lighting and makeup. The posing may involve laying your model on the floor, or having her or him crawl like a cat.

So, when you are booked for a job, get as much information upfront. Don’t wait until after your shoot to figure out what your client wanted. You’ll probably never work with that client again.


A studio is a must for commercial photography. You need different backdrops, lighting, props, etc. Generally, for commercial photography, you need different types of macro lenses since you usually want to capture plenty of the scene. If you are hired for a makeup ad, you probably want to zoom into the person’s face. But, you don’t need an extensively large telephoto lens as you need in wildlife photography and similar professions.

Always have a few lens filters and a lens hood on hand if you are planning on doing any outside shoots. Some photographs will require you to be on location. But, you still need to setup your shoot like you would in a studio setting. So, have some portable lights as well.


Your technique is really going to depend on the job for which you are hired. To go back to the makeup example, you probably want to have both fill and front lighting to show off the makeup. You may also want to fill up the entire frame with the model’s face.

But, if you are focusing on clothing, you may want to focus less on the model’s face, and do more body shots. For example, if you are taking a photograph for a wedding dress, you can turn the model’s face away from the camera. You can even cut off the top of the model’s head to focus in closer on the details of the dress.

Setup and Software

You are going to tweak your images with software programs. Invest in a good photo editing program, and know how to use it. You don’t want to waste a ton hours or days on post-production work.

Set up everything before the day of the shoot. You usually have a deadline for commercial photography. So, if you can’t get everything done in one day, be sure that you leave enough time to take the photographs and do the post-production work. Never miss deadlines, or risk being blacklisted from your profession.


Jones, Bill. “Specialize In: Commercial and Advertising Photography”,