Commercial Photography vs Fine Art Photography

Photography is an established art form, but it also serves several practical and commercial purposes. 

In the late 1830s, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first-ever permanent photograph in France by a portable camera. Before that, pinhole cameras were used, but the images they created used to fade away.

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Nowadays, photography has become so advanced that taking photos is not a big deal. Anyone with a camera-equipped cell phone can take as many photographs as desired. The printing and replication of images is no longer an issue anymore compared to the past. 

With all these advancements, photography has transcended from being just a rare art medium to being a source of earnings and income for many creative professionals. There are two dominant types of photography in the contemporary world: commercial photography and fine arts photography. Let’s look into the two main areas of photography, how they are different, and what they have in common.



What Is Commercial Photography?

Commercial photography can be explained as taking pictures of an object, place, or product that the client wants to highlight or market. The main idea behind commercial photography is to sell the product.

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Take, for example, food photography. Many restaurants will hire food bloggers or commercial photographers who excel in food photography to promote their dishes and create hype. These photographs help to bring in more customers to their restaurant. 

Similarly, any product, like clothes, perfumes, skincare, cell phones, anything and everything that needs to be sold or marketed, is photographed by commercial photographers. 

Commercial photographers can be just as talented as their fine art counterparts. There are many striking and exceptional commercial photographs created for brands, magazines, or other commercial purposes.

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Commercial photography can include representative photography such as magazine photography, documentary photography, or news photography. Many of the world’s most famous, evocative, and thought-provoking images come out of magazines and newspapers. While these commercial photographers can be exceptionally talented, commercial photographs are not considered fine art photography. 


What Is Fine Art Photography?

Fine art photography is a well-respected art form that focuses on the photographer’s emotions, ideas, and vision. Fine art photographers have a knack for finding beauty, story, and emotions in often mundane settings and can express it through their photographs are masters of fine art photography. 

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This form of art is also called artistic photography. There is no one opinion about a single fine art photograph. Just like a painting, it is up for interpretation by the public. That’s because fine art photography isn’t something that is done with a preconceived idea or on-demand. It carries the photographer’s instinct and his perception of beauty and aesthetics.

A real fine artist must have a unique style and take on their subject matter. They will show a progression in technique or themes over time that tells a broader story in their artwork. Fine art photographs are considered; they are not snapped at random like a holiday shot or a selfie. Read more about fine art photography >

What Is the Relationship Between Commercial Photography and Fine Art Photography?

Both commercial and fine art photography are forms of art. However, commercial picture-taking is more strict and has less artistic freedom. The idea behind commercial photographs comes from the client. 

Therefore a commercial photographer must adhere to the client’s ideas and perception while taking a picture. They have to understand the product, its audience, and the client’s needs. They also have to be aware of the budget to decide on props, location, and things needed for the shoot while following schedules and deadlines.

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In contrast, fine art photography is more liberating. The photographers working in the fine arts niche don’t have to worry about what others want in their photographs. They can simply enjoy their work without any pressure of expectation, deadlines, and schedules. Their work exists merely to exist, it does not have to fit a brief. 

The major difference between commercial and fine arts photography is how they are sold. Most fine arts photographers rely on selling their photographs, just like any artist does. But with commercial photography, the photographers usually have a steady income as their clients pay them by commission or employ them full-time as in-house photographers.

Some famous photographic artists have worked in both the commercial space and the fine arts space. Such cross-over photographers include Andy Warhol, Jonas Leriche, Annie Lebovitz, Manray, and Herve Lewis.

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Enjoying and Buying Photography 

Photography is an art form, whether it is on a commercial level or in any other form. It has become an established means of artistic communication and business marketing. 

Many art collectors enjoy displaying photography and buying photographic art. If you have a passion for fine photography, take a look at Eden’s online art gallery



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