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Commercial And Consumer Photography – What’s The Difference?

Commercial vs. Consumer The image to the left could be a Consumer image or a Commercial image. It really depends on the intended use. This young lady could have been Commercial Imagephotographed for her to share the image with family and friends or she could have been photographed for a brochure, a magazine article, etc. The point is that in this particular case, the image could have been taken by a Consumer Photographer or a Commercial Photographer. In the case of the image on the right, it looks more like a Commercial image than a Consumer image.

In some cases, Commercial Photography and Consumer Photography only differ in the intended use of the image. However, the transition from Consumer Photographer to Commercial Photographer or Vice Versa may not be an easy one for the photographer because there are numerous differences including one being working with companies vs. families.

Most photographers starting out will likely get into Consumer Photography because it's often easier to get started photographing Families and Weddings than to start working with companies. However, small business photography could be an entry way to the Commercial Photography world.

Although Commercial Photography may often be associated with a product, that is not always the case. Commercial Photography can be focused on people like photographing people for a business brochure. The company may simply need headshots, office candids, group shots, etc. that are to be used on the company website, in a brochure or for other commercial type use. In this case, what's the difference in Commercial Photography vs. Consumer Photography? It's really the setting and that use that separates the two in this example.

Consumer Photography is of people and Commercial Photography can be of people without a product involved. A Consumer Photographer usually photographs families, couples, children and individuals for consumer use like sharing with other family members. A Commercial Photographer often photographs people in a business setting for business use. Although the two types of photography include people, there are lots of  things that are different.

1) A Consumer Photographer likely gets paid at the time of the session with any additional items ordered also paid at the time of the order with at least a 50% deposit on the additional order and a Commercial Photographer may actually get nothing upfront and have to wait 30 days for payment to go through the company accounting cycle. A Commercial Photographer doesn't always have to wait for payment, but it's more common than in the consumer world.

2) Although a Consumer Photographer should have liability insurance, the consumer is likely not going to require that the photographer prove he or she has coverage. The photographer, although not recommended, can operate without liability insurance. A Commercial Photographer may be asked to provide a document proving liability coverage before he or she can do the shoot.  This is not always the case but is a real possibility.

3) A Consumer Photographer may not have a contract with the client unless it is a wedding. However, even if it is a wedding contract, the Consumer Photographer often determines the image use. A Commercial Photographer may be in a contract with the client that ensures that the photographer gets written permission from the client in order to use the images taken by the photographer. A company may also ask for and get full usage rights of the images whereas a Consumer Photographer may have more flexibility on restricting image use. This is an area of Commercial Photography that could go far beyond just this paragraph and open up a lot of discussion which is not what this post is meant to do.

Are you in need of a Commercial Photographer? Take a look at some of David's work below:

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.