Advertising photography involves creating visual content—images, clips, gifs, etc.—with the intention to advertise or sell a product or service. In short, you’re using photography to sell something, whether that be a product or a service.
Examples of Advertising Photography
Most likely, you see hundreds of examples of commercial photography every day. If you come across an advertisement with an image, that’s commercial photography. You often see advertising photography displayed in online ads, social media, Pinterest, billboards, business brochures and materials, restaurant menus, television and streaming services, phone apps, and much more. Examples of commercial photography are everywhere, so only the best stick out (ok, and sometimes the worst, but not in a good way…)
And while we see advertising photography all around us, it’s crucial for brands to hire the best commercial photographer for their specific brand and products. For instance, a photographer who specializes in automotive advertising photography probably doesn’t have expertise with food styling—because they don’t need to.
So, in your search for a branding or commercial photographer, be sure to home in on the type of commercial photographer you need. Commercial photographers are as diverse as the type of products and services out there! Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers out there too, so be sure to view their work, ask to see a portfolio, and maybe even talk to some of their previous clients to see if they’re the real deal.
Here are the most common commercial photography categories to help you narrow down your search:
7 Most Common Types of Advertising Photography
I could talk about this category all day because it’s my specialty! I enjoy photographing (and taste testing) food. While I personally prefer vegan dishes, I can do food photography for most any delectable cuisine. What can I say? I have a passion for good food!
You can view my Food + Drink Portfolio here.
I’ve worked with food brands such as:
- Mauna Loa
- Todo Verde
- Ladder Sport
- Talia Di Napoli
- Snap Kitchen
- Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
- Ohi Food Co.
- Plant Power Fast Food
- Dear Bella Creamery
Product Advertising Photography
Next to food and drink, I also book quite a few product and branding photography projects. Since my style tends to be a bit on the bolder side, health and beauty products typically work best within that aesthetic.
However, product photography is incredibly diverse since there are an infinite number of products out there. Be sure to find a product photographer who has experience in your product category because it’ll take less time (i.e. save your money), you’ll get better results, and they’ll already have a working knowledge of how your product works and how to best market it through photography.
View my Product + Still Life Portfolio here.
Lifestyle Advertising Photography
Lifestyle photography is also sometimes call “in-context photography.” Basically, it’s commercial photography captured in context. So, instead of a single product or your product line featured against a white backdrop (which is required at times), lifestyle photography will capture your product in action. For instance, if you have a pizza company, we might style a photo to feature a chef taking the pizza out of a brick oven. The context provides a warm, welcoming ambiance that elicits a sense of nostalgia—a great marketing tactic!
Or, if you have a beauty line, a lifestyle shoot might capture scenes of someone applying the beauty products at home (or designed set that looks like home). That helps the customer visualize themselves in that same situation and might create a sense of desire. For example, you might show a stop-motion clip or gif of someone applying makeup in 3 easy steps to demonstrate convenience, texture, consistency, and quality.
This one is pretty straightforward. Some photographers specialize in automotive photography, especially to showcase luxury brands, custom automotive work, or classic cars.
Home, Interior, & Real Estate Photography
If you’re in real estate or interior design, you definitely want someone who specializes in home and interior photography since there are a lot of industry-specific nuances in that line of work. With most real estate shopping starting online, professional real estate photography is a must. We’re starting to see more professional images on Airbnb and VRBO rentals as well.
Travel, Recreation, & Vacation Photography
Any globetrotters out there? With the travel and vacation industry getting back on their feet after the pandemic, lots of people are looking to finally set out on their next adventure. Hire a travel or vacation photographer to help promote your services and offerings. Whether you’re educating people, documenting places, or promoting sales and services, professional imagery can help boost your brand or business.
Services & Consulting
Excellent personal branding photography is key if you provide consulting or other services. Put simply, you’re selling yourself—you are the face of your brand, and customers are trying to decide if you’re the best person for the job. In addition to showcasing a distinctive branding style, you need to come across as personable, trustworthy, reputable, professional, and knowledgeable. Look for a personal branding photographer who can creatively and accurately capture the essence of your brand and personality.