Why is Commercial Photography Important?
Photography has undergone dramatic changes with each passing decade and in the 2020s it will see even more dramatic changes. Ever since the first creation of a photo for commercial use more than a hundred years ago, commercial photography has grown in importance. Nowadays with everyone walking around with a camera in their pocket, via a smartphone, some people argue that professional photography is becoming unimportant. But the smartphone might actually be making it ever more important.
What Is Non-Commercial Photography
First, it is important to understand what is commercial photography? To do this, let us first uncover what is non-commercial photography since it is what most people are familiar with. Putting it simply, non-commercial photography is the practice of taking a photo for personal or artistic use.
The two most important traits of a non-commercial photo are that it is usually taken by an amateur photographer and that there is little to no goal of direct or indirect monetary gain from having taken the photo. A self-portrait or selfie might be one example of such a photo.
There are many other examples of non-commercial photography that people engage with almost daily. Nowadays most of these photos are taken on a smartphone. They might be selfies of oneself or of a group of friends. It might be some photos while travelling. It could be photos of meal you are about to eat, to share the photos or moment with friends and family.
It is important to note that there are some people that will hire professional photographers to do the same photos, even if not for monetary gain, simply to achieve noticeably higher levels of quality. Such examples include wedding photography, a maternity or newborn photo shoot, family portraits, and so on. Such photo sessions are not sought after by a photographer’s client for monetary gain but rather noticeable quality gains. But there is still a monetary aspect to them in that the professional photographer is being paid for their services in producing the higher-quality images.
What Is Commercial Photography
So, commercial photography can then be defined as the practice of making a photo with the intent of direct or indirect monetary gain as a result of the photo. Here, the two most important traits are that such a photo is created by a professional photographer and that the hirer intends to use the photo to influence a sale.
Likewise, there are many examples of commercial photography. Businesses sell goods online and it is considered disastrous by most leading brands to not use professionally made imagery for online sales. This might be a product listing on Amazon.com or for an internationally recognized company’s own website. Lifestyle photography is also employed by big brands to influence sales.
Other commercial photography examples include headshots. This might be an actor who needs headshots to submit for castings in order to be considered for roles. Or it might be for an executive to place the photo alongside their LinkedIn profile for prospective employers. These are all examples of commercial photographs being used to influence a sale directly or indirectly, whether it be a product or employment.
Why Would You Use Commercial Photography?
So, if practically anyone nowadays can expose an image via their smartphone, why would anyone use commercial photography? Ironically, the answer is precisely that reason. There is more competition than ever among businesses. Those that settle for smartphone photography create an opportunity for their competition to position them as inferior.
Any savvy marketer understands positioning and that it is a two-way street – you position your own brand and seek to position competing brands. Repositioning the competition is best done with public relations. However, when one brand uses inferior imagery it becomes a golden opportunity for that brand to easily be displaced as a viable alternative.
This is why leading brands in practically any industry that relies on marketing and advertising against the competition all use professional commercial photography. You might look at a value clothing brand and compare it with a luxury clothing brand. The value brand might focus the theme of their photography on fun settings like cityscapes and beaches. The luxury brand might focus their themes on expensive hotel settings or costly automobiles. But the one constant between these two market leaders is they both used professional photographers to achieve the photo themes.
There are countless technical and creative differences between an amateur photographer and commercial photographer. All of these elements are factors in what makes commercial photography important. No one understands this more than market leaders in their respective categories. To gain this understanding yourself, simply look at an ad and marketing campaign of market leaders and you will clearly see how commercial photography is used to differentiate a business.