Commercial Photography: Career and Education Facts

Get information about the training options available for commercial photographers. Learn about topics covered in degree programs along with the skills you can acquire. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

A commercial photographer takes photos for organizations, corporations, nonprofits, small businesses, and government agencies. To apply for work, you need to create a portfolio, which is often compiled within a degree program.

Degrees Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in photography or fine art
Courses Two Dimensional Design, Product and Stock Photography, Art In Industry and Commerce, Picture Editing, Fashion/Portraiture, Digital Imaging
Median Salary (2017)* $32,490 annually for all photographers

Sources: Middlesex County College, Ohio University, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Opportunities Exist for Commercial Photographers?

As a commercial photographer, your photos could be included in a variety of materials, such as annual reports, catalogs, magazines, and websites. With such a wide variety of opportunities, you can focus on a particular style, such as black and white, or choose to specialize in a particular industry that complements your artistic style, like fashion. You can shoot in a studio or on location, taking photos of buildings, people, or products. You can choose to work as a freelance contractor or work in a lab as a photographer or photographer's assistant.

What Skills Do I Need?

You must be creative, have an eye for detail, understand lighting, and be able to capture emotion in pictures. You must also be able to work the equipment and stay aware of cutting-edge techniques and technologies to stay competitive. While you can build a career using digital photography, knowledge of classic darkroom techniques compliments your skill set. You don't need formal training to be hired, but a degree could make you competitive in the field.

What Education Programs Are Available?

You can find commercial photography courses in associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fine art or photography. Some art schools also offer the program online, giving you the flexibility of earning a degree around your schedule. You can also find master's degree programs in art and photography that offer advanced instruction and training in commercial photography.

What Can I Expect from a Degree Program?

When studying for a degree in photography, your program may or may not include an internship. You'll typically put together a portfolio of the work you complete while in school. You could also have the opportunity to take business courses that teach you how to run an organized freelance business. Some topics you might also be covering are listed as follows:

  • Lighting
  • Darkroom techniques
  • Photography techniques
  • Advertising strategies
  • Photo editing software

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

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    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

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  • CDI College

    CDI College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at CDI College:

    • Certificates

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  • William T McFatter Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Davie
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Iowa: Sioux City
  • Waubonsee Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Sugar Grove
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Tyler Junior College

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Tyler