Advertising Photography Jobs

Advertising photographers have fairly glitzy and exciting careers. An advertising photographer photographs certain objects or areas like food, equipment and other types of products. In larger metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, it is common to find advertising photographers who have very specialized careers.

Some may photograph only food for restaurants, while others photograph cars or hardware equipment. In other areas, advertising photographers may have more generalized careers.

Advertising photographers create images that cause consumers to buy a particular product or commit some type of behavior. If an interior design firm commissions an advertising photographer, then his job is to create beautiful images of impeccably built furniture. The result is that the images the advertising photographer created enticed a consumer to purchase a few pieces of furniture. This is how the ad world works in general, but advertising photographers have a special mission. The images they create for ad campaigns are usually more effective than words and if that photographer creates a memorable image, then the average consumer are more likely to purchase whatever product, location or action that photographer has depicted.

What the Job Entails

The central focus of the advertising photographer’s career is creating pack shots. Pack shots are a type of image that includes a products labeling and packaging. They can range from simple photos with nothing but the product set up in a studio to more complex sets that incorporate props and set design.

Advertising agencies, design firms, restaurants, companies, and other corporations commission photographers for their ad campaigns. Photographers will be expected to work alongside the company’s marketing and buying sectors to execute the images in accordance with the company’s goals and instructions. For large companies or elaborate ad campaigns, advertising photographers will work with art directors, set designers and/or stylists in selecting locations that meet the company’s lighting and stylistic needs. See our film and television make up artist job section for more information on that career path.

It is especially important that advertising photographer be able to work on location and out of a studio, since it is very likely that your work will encompass both. Travel may also be required.

Advertising Photographer Career Routes

Food Photography: Compose and style delicious prop samples on set for the most delectable images. You may end up working with food stylists on large campaigns, but it would be helpful to be at least a little familiar with this niche.

Product Photography: Create images for advertising campaigns that will appear in print ads.

Editorial Photography: Editorial photographers who shoot for ad campaigns often do so for advertorials, which are often found in magazines. These are actually elaborate, long-form advertisements that look like editorial features. They may be shot in location and/or in a studio and can feature anything from a resort in Florida to hair-care products.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Lighting: An intimate knowledge of lighting is crucial for advertising photographers.

It will be your job to highlight product features and to portray them in such a way that makes a customer wants to buy that product, or at least think about buying it.

Marketing/Networking: In the advertising world, your next job can come from word-of-mouth and if you are freelance advertising photographer, it is important that your marketing and networking skills are top level. In addition to creating pack shots and ad campaigns, another important part of your job is self-promotion. The ability to advertise your work should come naturally.

Getting Started

Advertising photographers come from different education levels. Some may learn the career through trade; others do have at least an undergraduate degree in photography or art. Some undergraduate programs specialize in commercial and editorial photography. Practitioners in this field might find either field applicable in advertising photography. Getting started is as simple as interning at a studio owned by a photographer. Since many advertising photographers work on a freelance basis from their own studios, you will learn this side of the business as well. Marketing one’s portfolio and networking are crucial in advertising and commercial photography, as networks and referrals are beneficial methods of increasing one’s client base and business.

Salary for Advertising Photographers

According to Photo District News‘ “Photographer’s Salary Survey,” published in June 2006, the median salary for a self-employed advertising photographer was about $100,000.

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