Commercial and Advertising Photography

Commercial and advertising photography involve taking pictures of people, places and things. Read on to learn about some of your options in the world of photography.

Is Commercial and Advertising Photography for Me?

Career Overview

Photography combines art and science, allowing you to utilize light on photosensitive surfaces to create a visual image, or a photograph. Commercial and advertising photographers are closely related, in that they both create visual images for monetary purposes. Advertising photographers use visual images to sell products to a target audience, while commercial photographers are hired to take photographs for a particular purpose, such as to capture a wedding or create images for newspapers.

The technological aspects for both advertising and commercial photography have changed over the years. With the exception of some fine-art photographs, most images are now taken with digital cameras. Thus, the modern photographer must have technological savvy and be well versed in numerous software programs relating to the preparation of digital images.

Advertising Photography

An advertising photographer may work in a specific area of concentration, such as fashion, food, product and automotive photography. He or she must be knowledgeable about the target audience to be able to create images that will entice the viewer to buy a product or service. Advertising photography is seen everywhere, from magazines and newspapers to billboards and product labels.

Commercial Photography

Commercial photography encompasses jobs such as freelance photographer, photojournalist, architectural photographer, fine-arts photographer, wedding photographer, photo assistant and studio manager. Commercial photographers often own their own studios and may work in various other aspects of the profession, such as photo editing, photo retouching and graphic design.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for photographers is expected to grow slower than the average for all occupations for the period of 2012-2022 ( The competition is fierce, with many more qualified photographers than job openings. The BLS also reported that the annual median income for all types of photographers as of May 2013 was $29,280.

How Can I Work in Commercial and Advertising Photography?


Although a degree is not always necessary for employment in commercial and advertising photography, it is definitely an advantage, especially due to the competitive job environment. Diploma programs in photography are generally designed for working professionals who wish to enhance their skills or change careers. In addition, there are several types of photography degrees available.

You may complete an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree program in art with concentrations in commercial or advertising photography. Some schools offer more specific programs, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Commercial Photography. You will see similar curriculums for all of the programs with additional classes based on your area of concentration. However, you may expect to take classes in lighting, composition, production and digital photography, digital printing, digital retouching, graphic design, fashion photography, wedding photography, sports photography, photojournalism and multimedia production.

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