Commercial and Industrial Photography

Business skills as much as talent with a camera are essential

Commercial and industrial photography is varied and challenging, ranging from the mundane to the exciting and sometimes exotic, sometimes dangerous.

As a photographer is the Commercial and Industrial photography field you will assist clients to promote their products and services in the best possible light. You will contribute to annual reports and other corporate literature of some of the largest and best known companies in the country indeed the world; and you may be expected to travel extensively.

Very often the practitioners in the corporate and industrial photography have only sketchy information about the subject that they are to shoot and must create a photograph "on-the-fly". This field requires skills in portraiture, still life, architectural and illustration photography.

The corporate photography is centred on executive portraits, while the industrial photography is oriented around shooting the products and facilities of a company.

Companies need photographs of their executives and corporate facilities for many reasons: annual reports, in-house newsletters, brochures or sometimes for display.


In industrial photography on the other hand the shoots are of everything from little still lifes to huge architectural shots with people. Industrial photographers often take pictures of equipment, machinery, products, workers, and company officials.


The pictures then are used for analyzing engineering projects, publicity, or as records of equipment development or deployment, such as placement of an offshore rig. This photography frequently is done on location. There are multiple light sources with which to contend and numerous obstacles to overcome.

Some large corporations employ their own in-house photographers, but they are very much the minority. The vast bulk of photography for corporate publicity and promotion is carried out by independent photographers hired for the purpose.

Even those companies with in-house staff will use outside studios for some of their photography. There is also an absolute need to present oneself in a thoroughly professional and businesslike manner and to relate to busy people at the highest levels of corporate management.

In short, first rate business skills as much as talent with a camera are essential prerequisites for anyone aspiring to become an independent commercial and industrial photographer in his or her own right.

The successful practitioner in the commercial and industrial photography, whether independent or whether employed within a large corporation or as an assistant within an independent studio, will need to liaise closely with art directors and other advertising agency staff, with graphic designers, with printers and with reproduction houses. It will be essential, therefore, to acquire an understanding of their respective roles and at least an appreciation of their technical terms and problems. And clients themselves will come from a wide range of disciplines: they may be financial managers, marketing specialists, press officers, designers, engineers, scientists indeed from any of the functions within any modern corporation.

An industrial and commercial photographer or studio may specialise in one aspect of corporate photography, for example studio shots of motor cars, or food photography or, more likely, will offer a broad and wide-ranging service to attract and cater for as wide as possible a client-base.

The established commercial photographic business is therefore likely to be involved in on-site industrial photography, advertising photography, catalogue and brochure photography, press and public relations photography, executive portraiture, and perhaps electronic imaging and photo-manipulation. The photographer may also be asked to produce, or to advise on, corporate video films and audio visual productions.

Employment in Commercial and Industrial Photography

Some studios operate a system of studio assistant to the principal photographer(s), an entry route through which valuable experience is gained by working with and alongside the photographer(s) on a range of real-life projects.

Eventually, the good assistant will progress to being a photographer in his or her own right. In the UK vacancies are sometimes advertised in the British Journal of Photography, but a direct, speculative approach to established studios is also a way in.

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