The Balance of Art and Business for Advertising Photographers


Photography, whether moving or still, is a visual art form meant to capture an image or idea and evoke an emotional response in the viewer. The fact that 90 percent of the information that comes to the brain is visual shows how powerful this sense is to the human psyche. For commercial clients, developing meaningful and compelling visual content in marketing campaigns is essential to the success of their product or service.

One need not look any further than the commercial world to see the power of visual images. In a report of 2016 marketing reach, engagement and sales, 37 percent of marketers said visual marketing was the most crucial type of content for their industry. Faced with consumers’ ever-shrinking attention spans, the importance of using attention-grabbing visual images for advertising purposes is more crucial than ever.

Advertising photographers specialize in a branch of commercial photography whose primary objective is to produce striking visual images for promotional ads. Advertising photographers are experts in a unique art form that merges the fields of business and art. Since advertising photographers’ purpose is to promote and sell products, concepts, lifestyles and ideas, the images must also be aesthetically pleasing, tell a story and evoke a compelling emotion in the viewer.

The consummate advertising photographer can interpret a story effectively and memorably, while highlighting the benefits of a product or service. Advertising photographers work closely with clients to effectively promote their message and product. They must be able to effectively take direction, while simultaneously infusing their creativity into the project. Advertising photographers have creative freedom over how they portray their subject, and use a variety of artistic techniques and cutting-edge digital equipment to tell that story with an image, rather than with words alone.

Like fine art photography, the production of genuinely effective advertising photo and video involves a comprehensive artistic process. Advertising photographers work with a team of professionals who arrange every detail — from location scouting and talent casting to organizing the shoots and directing the set.


During the shoot, the advertising photographer works within the guidelines set forth by the client to obtain the best arrangement, backgrounds and layouts for the subject. They use creative lighting and styling that best highlights the product, while not detracting from the message. Afterward, advertising photographers provide post-production of stills and motion before delivering finished images to the client.

In addition to being visual artists, advertising photographers are also skilled in the areas of layout, marketing, sales trends and business management. They must keep abreast of the elements companies currently use in their marketing campaigns and sales presentations, along with consumer trends. Each day, consumers see thousands of visual images, many through advertisements. In an age when social media reigns supreme, sales of newspapers and magazines are rapidly declining and we can fast-forward through commercials, it's more important than ever to create ads and images that immediately resonate with consumers.     

Commercial Art vs. Fine Art

Simply put, art is the expression of emotion and imagination. All art begins with an idea and is cultivated from the artist’s hands and mind. While commercial art and fine art are similar in that they both result in the creation of a visual image, they differ in both the reason for their production and the manner in which they cause the viewer to act.

The purpose of fine art is to create an emotional response from the viewer. It is meant to be appreciated for its aesthetic appearance and unique characteristics, but doesn’t typically compel the viewer to act in any way. One would expect to find fine art images in museums, galleries and adorning the walls of art aficionados. Fine art has remained a well-respected art form throughout the centuries.

Commercial art primarily persuades the viewer to act in some fashion, mainly to buy a product or service. This type of art is typically seen in print, television and social media advertisements and marketing campaigns, and also incorporates product branding and graphic design. In the past, commercial art was appreciated more for its compelling nature than for its aesthetic appeal.

Art is subjective, so determining what comprises an actual work of art is really up to the viewer’s opinion of aesthetic beauty. In thinking about an advertising photographer’s work vs. a fine art photographer’s work, both produce visual art forms that have evolved and intermingled over the last half-century. While advertising photographers intend to represent a product, their work is similar to fine art, due to the presentation of the subject matter and the photographer’s creative techniques and production style.

As mentioned previously, visual images are the primary way in which to evoke an emotion and, in turn, a reaction from consumers. For marketers embarking on an advertising project, it’s essential to find a team of professionals who will work with you to expertly see your vision to fruition. The importance of using a team that will turn your next advertising campaign into an all-star production can’t be stressed enough.


The time and effort involved in putting together an advertising shoot are overwhelming. There are numerous important details involved, including scheduling the shoot, casting models and other talents, finding a suitable location, hiring stylists, preparing backgrounds, lighting and layouts, and figuring out how best to represent your product or service. Many marketers don’t have the kind of time needed to plan all the little details and research and gather a team of experts that will produce the best results.

Aside from managing all of the production planning and details, an experienced advertising photography team brings their artistic expertise to each project. They will work with you to best represent your product, as they are experts in styling, lighting and bringing creative ideas to life. The ability to hand over all the production details to your photography team and know they’ll execute it flawlessly is priceless.

Our team at Mark DeLong Photography, overseen by advertising photographer Mark DeLong, infuses our creative expertise into all of our projects. We are experts in the area of how to be artistic advertising photographers. We painstakingly care for of every production aspect, from obtaining stylists to post-production work, and ensure all our clients’ advertising projects are true works of art.              

History of Advertising Art     

Advertising art, or commercial art, originated in the late 1800s, when society developed a need for print products. The advent of industrialization and advertising saw the rise of graphic design to promote products to the masses. Even back then, artists saw the need to make their products and artistic images stand out among a crowded visual environment — as evidenced by the beautiful posters of the time that used fine art paintings to sell products.

The line between commercial art and fine art was clearly defined until the mid-20th century, when artist Andy Warhol began the pop art movement. Warhol was a graphic designer who started his career as a hand painter and emerged into a screen printer. He was popular for using everyday items, such as Campbell's soup cans and Brillo boxes, in his original works of art. During the pop art movement, objects and items that were traditional symbols of the commercial art setting became one-of-a-kind artworks.


Warhol’s work signified a merger of fine art and popular and commercial topics and themes such as fashion, advertising and consumer culture that are still in evidence today. Advertising photographers embody the characteristics of this merger, and incorporate elements from both areas. As in the past, motion and still photography created for marketing purposes today must be aesthetically pleasing and reflect the current consumer culture to garner attention.

Advertising photographers’ work has evolved dramatically in recent years, due to rapid advances in technology and digital photography gear. Computers and photo editing software have essentially replaced film and darkroom developing. Photography equipment has become more streamlined and portable, with advances in lighting, cameras and lenses. It's essential for advertising photographers to keep up with all of the latest equipment and technology to remain competitive in their field.

These advances, coupled with the changing consumer climate, have necessitated drastic changes in marketing campaigns, as well. Shorter consumer attention spans have challenged marketers to up their game to produce relevant visual content. Advertising projects are now full-scale productions that require a cast and crew, including a director, art director, cinematographer, models and stylists.

While photography equipment and techniques may have changed, the need for an experienced production team with creative expertise remains the same. Even with modern photo editing software, it takes a great deal of skill and talent to produce the flawless images required in today’s marketing campaigns. No amount of high-tech equipment and software can take the place of a skilled photographer who can take a client’s ideas and turn them into a creative masterpiece.

The Mark DeLong Photography team remains at the forefront of the advertising photography field. We use cutting-edge technology and high-end equipment in every photo shoot. Whether filming in one of our studios or on location anywhere in the world, our experienced production team treats each client and project uniquely to get the best result possible. In addition to being the photographer, Mark possesses the unique ability to concurrently serve as director of both motion and still photography, as well as set director. His involvement in every step of production, from pre- through post, provides clients with an individually personalized experience.                        


The Constant Blend of Art and Business in Advertising Photography

Many industries rely on advertising photography, including healthcare, pet care, automotive and pharmaceutical. These industries require images that resonate with potential consumers. A skilled advertising photographer effortlessly blends the areas of art and business so pictures and videos don't look stock or boring. They can take subjects that are often mundane and turn them into breathtaking images and attention-grabbing stories.

Each brand and industry has unique requirements for effectively representing their product or service. Advertising projects commissioned for automotive companies vary significantly from those used in the fashion or healthcare industries. In advertising, there is no “one-size-fits-all” template that suits every client, product or service. Advertising photographers are jacks-of-all-trades in the sense that they can be pet care photographers, healthcare photographers, automotive advertising photographers and pharmaceutical photographers, in addition to many other industries, all at the same time.

At Mark DeLong Photography, we have the unique ability to create custom photography for our clients and brands based on their individual needs and artistic vision. Catering to clients in this way allows our team to deliver iconic images that are timeless, identifiable and truly stand out in the marketplace. Our singular purpose - delivering each client’s vision effectively - truly sets us apart.

When considering whether or not advertising photographers create art, the answer is a resounding "Yes." This visual medium uniquely and continuously blends the fields of art and business to produce striking images that sell products. Marketers look to experienced advertising photographers to effectively represent their products or services, since they possess the skills needed to make their product stand out in a saturated visual market. The role of advertising photographers today is a collaborator who values their clients’ professional opinion and advice, which helps them best tell the story through photographs.


The Mark DeLong Photography Team

Marketers in today’s business world understand the importance of attention-grabbing visual images in their advertising campaigns. When the Mark DeLong Photography team is in charge of your production, you can be sure every detail will be flawlessly executed. From pre-production planning to delivery of the finished product, our team will take care of it all. View Mark’s portfolio to see an extensive collection of stunning works across all industries. Contact us today to learn more about turning your next advertising campaign into a work of art.