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Commercial Photography

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Commercial photography is the branch of professional photography concerned primarily with supplying the photographic needs of the advertising, communication, display, and sales sides of industry, as well as the art departments of media involved with industry. Commercial photographers typically make photographs of products for reproduction in catalogs, brochures, instruction manuals, press releases, and advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and other media. Because commercial photographs commonly serve as a substitute for the objects photographed, they are expected to appear realistic, and because they should create a favorable impression on the viewer, especially when used for advertising purposes, they are expected to make the objects appear attractive and desirable. Commercial photographers do not have the freedom that illustrative photographers have to glorify products and to create an exaggerated aura of prestige and desirability, but they can make maximum use of the basic controls such as choice of background and props, arrangement, lighting, viewpoint, choice of lens, and photographic craftsmanship to make an attractive but also realistic photograph.

Whereas some commercial photographers will accept a wide range of assignments, including photographing small manufactured products, automobiles, architectural interiors and exteriors, industrial locations and operations, food, and packaged materials, and making photographic copies of paintings and other images, other commercial photographers will specialize in a narrow area, such as making photographs only of furniture. Some large commercial photography studios will cover a range of assignments by using a number of photographers who specialize in different areas, such as glassware and polished metal or automobiles.

Commercial photographers generally prefer to work in a studio where they have control over lighting and the other elements involved in making photographs, but many will do both interior and exterior location work, including such assignments as making a sequence of photographs at a construction site for a progress report or for documentation purposes.

View cameras have been the camera of choice of commercial photographers because of the advantages of large-format film in recording detail and because of the control they offer over image shape and the angle of the plane of sharp focus with the tilt and swing adjustments. Although 8 × 10 and 4 × 5-inch format view cameras were considered to be the standard size in earlier years, subsequent improvements in digital technology have resulted in a strong movement to digital cameras. Currently new cameras are being designed and improved yearly. Models of digital SLR cameras that produce 17 million pixels and medium-format backs that produce 39 million pixels have improved the quality of digital photography to match or exceed conventional film. The fast pace of commercial photography is aided by the speed of producing digital images and instant approval of the image for reproduction.

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