Commercial photography involves taking pictures that will sell and finding places to sell them. The great thing about commercial photography is you have the option of being a freelance photographer or you can photograph by assignment. A freelance photographer takes a lot of photos and then tries to sell them. Assignment work is requested by an editor who wants a certain type of photograph. In order to be taken as a serious commercial photographer and receive assignment work or sell photos you need to have a solid commercial photography portfolio.
Know Your Market
It is important for your portfolio to understand what the art buyer wants. If you do not want to focus on a specific niche, you need to take a wide variety of photographs that will demonstrate your flexibility and marketability. The more images you take the better your chances are of a buyer seeing something they like. When starting out, avoid the hassle of getting signed releases from people you photograph by focusing on environments and products.
The Online Advantage
The Internet can be a powerful tool in building a commercial photography portfolio. You can search the portfolios of thousands of commercial photographers to see what types of images are selling best. The Internet is also a low cost way to spread your portfolio far and wide. You can create your own personal domain name and upload your portfolio and then link it to your correspondence with publications and buyers so they can view your photographs.
You Can Fake It
When you first get started you will not have assignments right away. But, that should not stop you from shooting to demonstrate your photographic abilities. Pick what interests you. If you are interested in advertising photographs, create a few fake ad campaigns, shoot the photographs to go with them and then post to your portfolio, explaining what you are trying to convey. Creating a theme may be just what an art director is looking for in a photographer.
Selecting a Niche
Specializing and becoming the best photographer in a specific subject matter may provide the best opportunity for acquiring profits. There are many photography categories to consider, such as swim wear, food or wildlife, to name just a few. The first steps are determining what your passion is and what publications you would like to shoot for. You are then ready to start building a portfolio of your work that will attract the attention of those potential clients.
Start Small and Stay Local
Most beginning photographers will find it impossible to get work with a major publication. You need a little more experience, and the best way to gain that is to volunteer your photography services. Check out local newspapers, magazines, websites or communities that need photos. Although you will not be raking in money, you will be doing something better. You will be gaining invaluable experience and building a list of former clients that will help you land a bigger, better and profitable future assignment.
Commercial photography is a challenging market to enter. But, if you challenge yourself by expanding your skills and have the right mindset it will be easier than you think. Build a powerful portfolio by starting with an eye to local needs, improving your photography with every shoot and reaching out to businesses and fellow photographers. Before you know it you will have created the commercial photography business you always dreamed of.