What defines 'commercial' photography?

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by guitarmy, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. guitarmy

    guitarmy TPF Noob!

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    I'm running into a mental block here.

    I've read the Wikipedia entry on it, but still. What exactly makes a commercial photographer? It's not the subject matter. Is it the client? I mean, say you shoot an environmental portrait of your friend, who happens to be a snowboarder. That's a portrait. But say then that Burton Snowboards sees that photo in your portfolio and wants to use it in an ad.

    Does that now categorize that photo as 'commercial'?

    So, ostensibly then, if you were to market yourself as a 'commercial photographer', you could have a variety of images from portraits, to sports, to interiors, to products, to scenery - virtually anything? The underlying connection between all of them is that you're taking these photos with the intent for commercial usage and distribution?
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That sounds about as good of an explanation as any.

    I would think that an easy definition would be that a commercial photographer caters to businesses...and a 'non-commercial' photographer caters to the public.
     
  3. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Almost, but not quite the same as 'professional.'
     
  4. guitarmy

    guitarmy TPF Noob!

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    What? I don't get it.

    Is that a joke? I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm just wondering. Isn't professional defined by actually making money at photography? I mean, someone like Chase Jarvis defines himself as a commercial photographer, and he's definitely a pro.
     
  5. shorty6049

    shorty6049 TPF Noob!

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    my opinion of a "commercial" photographer, would be one who does mostly things for companies rather than individuals. This could include magazine shots, product or food photos, and anything else... I'd say its separate from wedding, portrait, landscape, and fine art photography... just my 2 cents
     
  6. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Involved with merchandising- probably.
     
  7. Chas

    Chas TPF Noob!

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    In aviation, the adjective "commercial" refers to the fact that people are paying money to other people to fly a plane with them in it (not necessarily to some distance place). You need to get your "commercial" rating to have paying passengers, no matter what size the bird.

    Wouldn't the same principle apply to commercial photography? As long as I'm not getting paid to shoot stuff, I'm a (rank) amateur ...... I'm actually thinking about maybe doing some commercial aerial photography, if I can find the business and have the right gear for the job. That would make me a commercial photographer (but hardly a "pro" in the vernacular), and the good thing is there's an exception to the FAA regulations that allows one to do this without getting a commercial rating. Grandfathered in I suppose.
     
  8. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Commercial photography is photography done for a paying client that is not an individual. If the client is a company, governmental agency, University etc. then what is produced for them is commercial photography. The exception would be photographs done for the media to be used in the news. We define that as photojournalism. We define photography for clients who are individuals as retail photography.

    Commercial photography can encompass photographs of anything you can mention. It is the nature of the client that determines the definition. I was a commercial photographer for 20 years. I didn't shoot weddings or family portraits (that is retail photography.) I didn't shoot for the news (that is photojournalism) but some of my photographs done for a commercial client did, in fact, end up in the news. They were provided to the media by the client who paid for them, not by me. I've also done photography for magazines that is not news photography. Travel magazines would be an example. That is commercial and not photojournalism.

    Commercial photography can also be broken down into sub categories if you like. Fashion photography, product advertising photography etc. etc. are types of commercial photography.
     
  9. guitarmy

    guitarmy TPF Noob!

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    Awesome. That's exactly what I was looking for Fred. Thanks.
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Having just been reading some material, I notice that Australian law defines commercial photography as advertising photography for a company or organization and differentiates that from selling photography as art even in one case where the price was $250,000 for 10 photos. Commercial photography(advertising) as defined in Australian law requires releases from people in the shot whereas any other kind of photography even if the shot is sold for a lot of money does NOT require a release as per for example the sale of photography as art.

    skieur
     
  11. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Photography intended for commerce.... it's as simple as that.

    I'm curious... what's the concern about catagorizing an image as commercial?

    -Pete
     
  12. guitarmy

    guitarmy TPF Noob!

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    Basically, I just have a few images of people that don't really fall into a 'couples' or 'portraits' category in my head - they seem to have a commercial-esque look to them. However, I don't want to mislabel them in my portfolio.
     

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