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Commercial Photography

Serious financial gains and a consistent workflow might attract you to the competitive world of commercial photography. Commercial photography is just that – photography of products to be displayed or marketing and advertising.

The photographer plays a vital role in marketing, which leads to a good demand and good pay.

Commercial photographers supply photographic services to companies, including PR photography, product photography, architectural photography, Some specialize in one or more of these areas, for example photographing interiors of buildings. Other specialist commercial areas include Catalogue photography, where large numbers of product shots are produced in high quality at a rapid rate, generally using simple sets and formulaic lighting.

Advertising photography is a relatively small section of the industry, but has an extremely high profile, partly because the results are clearly visible in magazines and on billboards, but also because of the large amounts of money involved. Some advertising photographers have become celebrities, but others remain unknown to the general public.

Advertising photographers generally have a considerable creative input into their work, interpreting the ideas and rough visuals along the Art Director of the advertising agency. However the main part of the job is a great deal of detailed planning and coordinating the team of people who may be needed for a successful shoot, including set makers and model makers, location scouts, stylists and models, Advertising photography can be a highly stressful occupation - even though most of the actual work is delegated to others - and is very competitive.

Photographers start as 'assistants', who do anything that needs doing, carrying gear, painting walls, sweeping floors, making tea, chasing up deliveries, fetching sandwiches - and they may occasionally touch a camera, if only to load or unload film. As they gain experience they can expect to do more of the actual lighting and photography.

As well as making everything run smoothly, assistants are also learning in a practical manner how the job is done. Permanent assistants are often allowed (if not expected) to make use of the facilities to develop their own skills and build their own portfolios when not working on a job, and eventually may be able to take on small jobs themselves using the studio facilities before they branch out as photographers in their own right.

Assistants are usually poorly paid, the hours are long and unpredictable, and work is generally hard to find. Most hirings are on a short term basis and if you don't fit in and pull your weight you will not get work again. Until you have experience it is hard to get work at all - you may have to start with unpaid 'work experience'. A good 'book' (portfolio of work), a good interview manner and tons of persistence are needed.