Commercial photography can be a good niche to try if you are into photography and want to make a living out of it. However, you need to be prepared for a variety of challenges that you will have to deal with proactively.
Without further ado, here are 10 useful tips on how to succeed in commercial photography if you are looking to get started in the field:
1. Understand the Types of Commercial Photography
First and foremost, you need to understand the different types of commercial photography. The term itself can often cover a wide variety of photography types, but at its core, commercial photography is about selling or promoting a product or service.
Commercial photography – depending on your client – can include anything from product photography to lifestyle photography. You can be doing photography for further usage in product packaging, brochures, social media, and so on. Even fashion photography and architectural photography could be considered a part of commercial photography.
Knowing what the different types of commercial photography are will help you decide which niche you want to work in. You could specialize in product photography – or you could try your hand at fashion photography. It all depends on your personal preferences.
2. Learn the Difference Between Advertising and Commercial
There are many people who use commercial photography and advertising photography as mutually interchangeable terms, but there is actually a difference between the two. There is a lot of overlap between these two types of photography, but they are still somewhat different in their main goals.
While commercial photography is about showcasing the product’s best sides, advertising photography is about creating an appealing image of the said product. Moreover, advertising photography often aims to tell a story about the brand of the product.
3. Price Your Services at a Reasonable and Realistic Point
Once you decide which types of commercial photography you will be doing, you will need to price your services at a reasonable and realistic point. If you set prices that are too high, you might not be able to find clients. And if you set prices that are too low, you might get “low-quality” clients who will only waste your time.
Check the market and see what prices were set by your competitors. Then, think about what kind of prices you could set for your own services based on your experience, expertise, and competitiveness.
Make sure to check out Cherrydeck’s compact guide on how to price a photography job!
4. Establish Yourself Online with a Website and Portfolio
Whether you are a freelance commercial photographer or you work for an agency, you need to have a website that can showcase your portfolio. Moreover, you should also think of creating social media profiles for yourself where you can also post your work.
In addition to publishing your photography work, you can also start a blog on your website to generate more traffic and find more clients that way. You can write your articles yourself and use a grammar checker, a plagiarism checker, and other similar writing and editing tools to make sure that you are only publishing high-quality content that will help your website rank higher in search results.
5. Reach Out to Clients Yourself and Pitch Them
While a website and social media profiles will definitely help you attract potential clients who will get in touch with you, you should still be the one reaching out to clients first most of the time. Find local businesses and contact them to ask whether they need your services.
Similarly, you should also think about how you can pitch them. What kind of ideas do you have for the products or services they are currently offering? What references can you show them as an example of what you have in mind (perhaps even from your past work)?
6. Ask Questions and Communicate Regularly
Once you start the communication process with a client, you need to continue asking questions, again and again, to find out all the details about what the client wants. Asking questions is crucial for you to be able to perform your job correctly.
Likewise, you need to keep communicating with your client regularly. It is not just a one-and-done job – it is a continuous process where you exchange ideas, feedback, and even basic information with each other.
7. Brainstorm Many Ideas for Different Concepts
Speaking of ideas, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the first thing that comes to your mind. Instead, try to brainstorm different concepts. The more ideas you come up with, the more options you (and your client) have to choose from.
Select a number of concepts you are interested in and further brainstorm different ways each concept can be portrayed. You can then offer more options to the clients you pitch and find what works for a specific client.
8. Learn to Do Post-Production Correctly and Practice
Commercial photographers often think that the actual process of taking pictures is the most important aspect of their job. You may also think that marketing is important, but you can do it even with minimal knowledge by using different online tools to help you.
While those things are important, post-production may play a much bigger role than you think. You will realize just how important good editing is. Your client may ask you to edit certain things about your photos. For example, whitened teeth, designs, smoother skin, etc.
Therefore, you may want to improve your post-production skills through practice instead of outsourcing this service.
9. Attend Industry Events and Get to Know Other Professionals
Lastly, make sure that you aren’t closing in on yourself and trying to be a lone wolf who is struggling to survive in the world of commercial photography. The photography community is quite interesting and welcoming, so you should definitely look for ways to participate.
You can attend industry events and get to know other professionals. Sure, you are competing against each other, but knowing people in the industry could actually help you find more job opportunities.
10. Follow Up on Clients and Grow Your Client Base
After you complete a client’s order, you shouldn’t think about your relationship as finished. In the contrary, this is actually one of the most important stages of your communication with a client. This is when you can make them a returning customer.
You need to follow up on all your clients and see if they need your services again or if someone they know needs them. This is how you can grow your client base and ensure that you always have orders to complete (and money to earn).
Let’s Sum it Up
All in all, commercial photography can definitely be a lucrative niche, but you need to know your way around. Follow these useful tips on how to succeed in commercial photography:
- Understand the Types of Commercial Photography
- Learn the Difference Between Advertising and Commercial
- Price Your Services at a Reasonable and Realistic Point
- Establish Yourself Online with a Website and Portfolio
- Reach Out to Clients Yourself and Pitch Them
- Ask questions and communicate regularly
- Brainstorm Many Ideas for Different Concepts
- Learn to Do Post-Production Correctly and Practice
- Attend Industry Events and Get to Know Other Professionals
- Follow Up on Clients and Grow Your Client Base
It can be difficult getting started, but once you develop your skills and grow your client base, it will be easier to earn a steady income consistently and make a good living doing commercial photography.
Explore tips to get started in commercial photography, commercial photography rates you should expect, or top comercial photographers you should know, and more on the Cherrydeck Blog.
By Lillie Jenkins
Lillie Jenkins is a creative copywriter and content writer. She has worked as a copywriter since graduating school, so her writing skills are well-honed. She writes publications in such fields as marketing, business, education, and personal life. More than writing Lillie loves to travel and read professional literature.