Getting Started in Commercial Advertising Photography

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  By Jennifer Berube
Getting Started in Commercial Advertising Photography

There are many facets to photography that can be highly profitable to you. While you can spend years doing street photography and doing it well, nothing really beats commercial advertising photography for the amount of pay that you can make. It is also very rewarding to work in that industry because you are literally shaping the opinions of people with your photography. From shooting models for a clothing line to taking pictures of food for a fast food chain, each day is different and each day brings you new things to discover.

It is not as simple as just taking pictures for an ad agency. You have to really know what you are doing, and you have to know the keys to success in advertising photography. The first thing to know is that whatever you used to think about photography, it all changes when you are doing advertising photography.

Know Your Style

Before you get into commercial photography, it is important to know what your style is going to be. We all have different styles when it comes to photography, and understanding your style will help you know the campaigns to work for. With any art form, it is vital to know your style so that you can create something that is true to you, not to someone else.

Shooting your style will bring you grater success when you are working in advertising photography. It will resonate with you, and that will make you good at it. The better you are at it, the better you will do in the career.

Market Differently

Your whole job is finding new ways to sell a marketing message through photography. You have to think in a dynamic and interesting way. If that is the case, why would you go about things the typical way to market yourself? You have to think differently so you can market yourself differently. You can take pictures, build your portfolio and market yourself that way but this is just going to be a huge waste of your resources.

Instead, you focus on getting that one really amazing picture and start marketing that picture, rather than a portfolio of pictures. That will get you noticed and it will save you years of time.

There are several other things to consider when it comes to marketing yourself as a professional photographer so you can start making money, including:

  • Know the marketing process and be familiar with how marketing works. Use what you learn to teach yourself to market yourself, and be a better advertising photographer.
  • Know what clients you want and then begin to reach them. You can do this through actually setting up meetings, or through emailing them with your work. Either way, don’t be afraid to approach them and get them to see your amazing work.
  • Don’t spend years building your portfolio, as we already said. Send your one amazing picture right now and get noticed now. Why wait for years when you could be getting advertising work right now, at this very moment?

Be An Artist

You are a photographer right? Wrong, you are an artist and it is important you start seeing yourself that way. You need to start thinking of yourself as an artist so that you can start pushing the boundaries of what you can do. You want to push the limits of reality, and you want to choose what to render in the photo. Go down into your imagination and discover what it is that really makes you an artist and what will make the photograph pop as an advertising message.

It is the creative process of an artist that really makes a photograph something more. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you can do, to make an image that changes how people see a product or service, through your photography.

When you are working in commercial advertising, there are going to be new challenges and opportunities for you to deal with. They will be rewarding and difficult, but it will allow you to explore yourself as a photographer and how you see the world. In many ways, being a commercial photographer can change how you see everything around you. It is an amazing career to be in.

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Before I became Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, I spent over five years specializing in Photography Writing and contributed articles regularly to sites like PictureCorrect, Sleeklens, and PhotoWorkout. Photography has always been a huge passion of mine; I may not be professionally trained in the art, but the knowledge and experience I have gained writing about photography techniques, interviewing some of the biggest and most inspiring photographers out there, and covering industry events has been invaluable!

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