Professional commercial photographers need to celebrate and embrace their unique individualities, and creating their own particular brand will enable them to highlight the visions of their art. This is as much about the type of photography as it is about the personality of the photographer. If a photographer is artistic and laid back in photo sessions, their logo and branding of the design for their individual company should reflect this style.

Each photographer will first need to determine what type of photography best suits their art, for photography is an art that captures an essence in the same way painting and drawing does. It is merely another medium. Does the photographer want to focus primarily on sports or action photography, or are they better suited to the unique beauty of weddings and special events?

A professional designer can assist the photographer with ensuring they have a professional website and that the website and avenues of social media accurately represent the photographer’s individual branding.

Photographs also have the ability to create emotions. Those types of photographs, if done properly, will endure for many years, a true testament to the fact that their goal of creating emotions was achieved.


The creation of a photographic brand is one of the most important first steps in product photography. A product’s branding process involves the creation of its personality, leaving consumers with a memorable positive image that will allow them to associate that product with the image.

For example, if one were creating a picture of a rental vacation home, an open, inviting design would more clearly illustrate appealing space rather than a cluttered area, even though both photos show a beautiful home.

While many technical products use colors and design rather than photography to create an image, there are other products that rely heavily on photography. A magazine such as National Geographic, on the other hand, uses photography as one of its greatest tools in branding. Wonderful, detailed photographs of nature will likely remind the viewer of a National Geographic photo.

Look through any fashion magazine, and one will find it is heavily reliant on photography. Clean, clear images of models wearing the latest fashion will leave the reader with a memory that will hopefully encourage them to want to buy the product if they find the look on the model appealing.

Several steps should be followed when a photographer is working on creating a client’s brand by using photography:

  • First,the photographer will need to make a mood board. This can be accomplished by gathering all types of photographs that represent the style and effect one wants to create. The photos can be stock photos or photos from the photographer’s own portfolio. It is important to check with the client and stakeholders to see if they agree with the effects of the photographs and how they impact the one viewing them.

  • The styleguide should consider whether to use nature as a background or keep the background simple and relatively colorless to create more of an artsy image. But the primary purpose of how the viewer should feel after looking at the photo is of utmost importance.

  • Does the photo tell the story the photographer is looking for? For example, if promoting an outdoor sports retreat for high-energy adults who are potential risk-takers, wouldn’t a photo of a rock climber on the side of a very high cliff be more appealing to the targeted audience rather than a photo of a tennis player hitting the ball across the net?

  • It is critical to use only the best photos, which is why many of the photos end up on the cutting room floor. The photos must have the best lighting, color, and uncluttered background to create the intended image.


Planning the shoot is essential to the success of every professional photographer. In addition to selecting the location, the photographer will need to scout the location ahead of time and take test shots. It is important to note whether there is adequate lighting and whether the location is not too busy at the time when the shoot is planned.

If a photographer is planning on shooting in an office building that is too busy during the day, they might want to consider using the building after hours, keeping in mind the lack of natural light and the possible need for additional lighting.

If using an outdoor location, it may be necessary after taking the test shots to return only when the weather is similar to ensure the lighting is very similar to when the test shots were taken. Looking in advance at the weather forecast is essential, especially if professional models are booked to come to the shoot.

An indoor location with a green screen may be the photographer’s best choice if using a background that would not regularly occur behind the subject being photographed. If a photographer wants to put a model on the top of the building in the instance where this would be impossible or prohibitive, a green screen could be used. Then the photographer would later Photoshop the picture of the building in so it appears the model is standing on top of the building.


While it is important to note the cost of using professional models should be included when giving the client a price quote, using professional models can greatly reduce the time necessary to complete the photo shoot. If a model knows exactly what to do and how to pose, they can even give feedback to the photographer about the shoot, which will make the shoot go much more smoothly than if the photographer does not use professional models.

The client will likely provide the photographer with guidance about what type of model they would like to have selected. However, the photographer often will have general ideas about what they want to look for in a model as well. Confidence is key, though the model does not need to have the perfect looks of the most sought-after models in the world.

Finding the perfect model may involve:

  • Contacting a modeling agency or casting website, as they can provide you with a match of the type of model one is looking for.

  • Going online to look for a modeling website is another possibility that may require the photographer to join their site.

After deciding which model to cast, the photographer will need to meet with the model and their agent to finalize the agreement. The photographer might want to obtain sample photos from the model’s previous work at this time or even ask the model to come to a test shoot.

The photographer will be expected to pay the model for the work completed. As this was included in the budget that was provided to the client, the photographer can pay the model and/or their agency, which usually gets a percentage of the cost of the model as part of its representation fee. Rates are generally determined by how much experience the model has.


It is essential if a photographer is shooting on location that they use a professional makeup artist. Just as one would want to have the most perfect example of a product if shooting in a studio, a perfectly polished model will be the perfect exhibit for a product. If the model does not have polished hair and makeup, the viewer of the photograph will be distracted by the model’s messy look and will not focus on the product itself.

A professional makeup artist has tips and tricks to keep the model looking picture-perfect especially if the weather conditions are less than ideal. If the weather is relatively calm but a wind suddenly kicks up, the makeup artist will know best how to restore flyaway hair or faded makeup, thereby making the photo shoot go much more smoothly and efficiently.


If the photographer is at ease in his or her surroundings, everyone else will be as well. In order to ensure success of the shoot, the photographer must relax, and the models will be able to relax as well. A strong, confident and self-assured photographer will be able to give others the reassurance that the shoot will go as smoothly as possible. This will translate into the models being confident and comfortable. Keep these two tips in mind:

  • An even-tempered, professional photographer will most likely be able to get greats results if they provide an enjoyable working environment.

  • Furthermore, this will enhance the photographer’s reputation and increase the likelihood that the models and other professionals will want to work with them again.


There are many types of editing software to choose from, but there are a couple that are more recommended than others. Photoshop is a name in editing software that is recognizable by many people. Photoshop Elements is less expensive than Photoshop CS. It may be possible to get a free trial of Photoshop Elements, and some of the best prices can be found on the Internet, especially on Amazon or eBay.

Gimp is editing software that can be downloaded for free. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to use, but that may be a fair tradeoff for a photographer who is looking to keep expenses down.

Additionally, Adobe Photoshop Elements is very good software for someone who is just starting photo editing.  In addition, online photo editing websites are excellent for editing a large number of photographs in a short period of time. One of the most prominent editing websites on the Internet is

Photographs may be transferred from the camera to the computer either via USB or by removing the memory card from the camera and putting it in the card reader in the PC. Rather than merely opening the files from the camera, it is important that the files are copied to the computer. After copying the files, then it is time to open the software of choice to start editing the photographs.

Here are the essential steps of editing:

  • Cropping is one of the first steps in the editing process. Cropping can be done by dragging the window to the desired size. If the photographer determines they have cropped an image in error, they can always use Edit >Undo to go back and eliminate previous cropping.

  • Color correction is the next step in the editing process. One of the easiest methods of color correction is the automatic color correction. If, after this has been completed, the editor/ photographer is not satisfied with the results, the editor can merely undo to return the image to its original quality.

  • Level adjustment allows the photographer to adjust the lighting levels of the photograph. Adjusting the level of the lighting will not make a bad photograph into a good one, but it will correct the lighting to make a good photograph even better. The low tones, which represent dark shades, are exhibited by the triangle on the left while the middle triangle represents the shadows or mid-tones, and the light or high tones are represented by the right triangle.

  • Experimentation with this particular tool is the best way to determine what settings will serve to enhance one’s photograph.

  • Resizing is the last step prior to saving the image. While there are more editing tools with many photo-editing programs, those mentioned above are purely the basic ones that should be used prior to saving and resizing the photo.

  • Use of a wide aperture or a small “f number, like f/16 or f/4,” will create a more narrow depth of field. This will make the photographs look more professional.

  • Harsh shadows will reduce the quality of the photographs. It is important to be cognizant of them and make sure the shadows are minimal or they are being used to achieve a certain effect.

  • Tilecan be used as a very effective background. Black granite tile is not only reflective but it creates a very simple, clean backdrop, especially when one has a black product to photograph. White tile is also reflective and will show a clear reflection of the object in question. The use of textured tile adds depth to the background and creates a much different look than the reflective properties of either the black or white tiles.

While basic editing is perfect for the novice photographer, a professional commercial photographer will likely use an array of additional editing tools to create photographs that are more than merely good photos. A commercial photographer will want to create photos that will allow them to stand out when competing with other photographers.

Both hard and soft light may be used to create images, and the use of either one may be dependent upon the situation for which the product is photographed. Soft light is more diffuse and does not create harsh edges. It is often used in fashion photography and portraits, and is created when the source of the light is closer to the subject.

Hard or harsh light has more noticeable edges, and the use of this type of light may require more skill to become proficient at using it. Examples of harsh light include a spotlight, a light bulb without a shade, and the sun on a clear day with no clouds.

A cloudy day and light with a shade will create soft diffuse light and, usually, if a source of light is larger, it will create more diffuse light. Soft light is the best type of lighting to use for portraits, as one of the things it can do is lessen the appearance of skin imperfections.

Reflectors and reflection can be used to enhance the photograph. However, too much use of reflections can actually detract from the overall finished product. Therefore, it is important to keep the number of reflections simple. Moodiness and edginess are often created through the use of hard lighting.


While it may be difficult to believe one singular photograph can have a significant impact, all one needs to do is look at a company like Apple. With many of the photographs at Apple, one of their photographers, Peter Belanger, relies on sketches, which then need to be changed into photographs. He then works with the complicated lighting to ensure he can achieve the results Apple wants. While he acknowledges post-production editing is necessary, he tries to accomplish as much as possible in the photo shoot itself.

Professional photographers agree lighting is a very important part of the process, as is the editing in Photoshop or a similar editing program. However, another one of the most critical elements in good photography is a great sense of curiosity. Without this sense of curiosity, a photographer will not go outside of their comfort zone to shoot in such a way that is unique and memorable.

Good preparation is key. Whether or not the photographer is responsible for obtaining all of the permits necessary or ensuring the models, makeup artists or other on-site personnel are available, it is important everyone be present for the day of the shoot. Without adequate preparation, even the most seasoned and talented photographer may have difficulty ensuring the shoot goes smoothly.

While a photographer may take their time when shooting for pleasure, when shooting for a client a photographer must remember that efficiency is key. If the shoot is not run efficiently, the client may become displeased and would be less likely to use the photographer in the future.

If a photographer has new gear, it is vital they are very familiar with the new camera or other gear. The client will have little confidence in a photographer who is fumbling constantly with the gear that they have.


Good shooting habits mean the photographer tries to get the best shots initially. While many imperfections can be fixed with Photoshop, reliance on that program to cure all the defects in a photo is a fallacy and will result in photos with inferior quality. In addition, that photographer must have a very good eye for detail so essentially they are capturing what is most important.

Excellent hand-eye coordination is also key to being a good product photographer. They need to be able to replace the lens quickly and avoid having their hands shaking.

A good product photographer also needs to be able to market themselves well and network with people. They need to have the ability to know who is important to contact in order to expand their network of potential employers. In addition, in order to be a good photographer, one needs to be able to get along well with people, including the makeup artists and the models.

Moreover, technical skills are vital to being a good product photographer, as part of the technical skills is knowing how to use the editing software and the lighting without having additional assistance from others.

It is also helpful for a product photographer to have basic legal knowledge so they can understand contracts and copyright laws as well as any other possible legal concerns that might arise. When telling a story, you want a photographer who sees that story in the same manner that you and your brand do. Once you’ve found them, it’s time to get to work.