Branding photography vs commercial photography – which should I choose?

branding | business | photography
Woman places letters on water bottle

Hey guys. I’ve been meaning to get this blog post series started for a while now, so I figure the new year is as good a time as any. So, welcome to the first in a five-part series all about branding photography! This first post starts with a why. Why branding photography and how does it differ from commercial or business photography? And then, ultimately, which type of photography should you choose for your business? 

Are you ready to get stuck in?

Is it branding, business or commercial photography?

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as branding photography. Let me allow a moment for the reverb of those collective gasps to settle down. And let me say, ‘I know, right?!’ Ok, now we’ve moved past the moment and calmed down, let’s talk about this some more.

Back in the day, business and commercial photography were all about professional photography. Headshots, shots of bright offices full of suited up and smart people. And lots of glass, computer screens and anything else that screamed SUCCESS. 

I am not saying this is a bad thing. Just that this is what it was. Because the only businesses needing that kind of professional imagery to display in their marketing materials and online were those high-flying corporate companies with the big bucks to spend.

Woman places letters on water bottle

But the term ‘business’ has changed massively in recent years. The internet has made it possible for more people to set up a business from their own homes, their kitchen tables or little office spaces, at a much lower cost. Being self-employed is not only limited to those in the labour industries any more. There’s an increasing number of self-employed in creative industries, particularly those geared towards digital marketing. 

In Canada, self-employment has more than doubled from 1.2 million to 2.9 million people in the last 30 years. More interestingly, the number of self-employed women has risen by 12% over the last 40 years! 

In this BBC News article, technology and the internet are cited as being the main reasons for this rise in self-employment. People now have a world literally at their fingertips. And they can work from any space they deem suitable. It also allows younger generations to work in areas they enjoy and are passionate about from the moment they are ready. The world of “business” is changing!

And so, then, if it is changing, everything else must follow, right?

With this rise in in-home businesses, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in the idea of a personal brand. Small business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs and the self-employed, whatever terminology you prefer, all have one thing in common. They live and run their business and personal lives through social media. 

In particular, the idea of sharing your personal life, or ‘lifestyle’, as part of your business is a growing notion.  Apps like Instagram have shown this is a viable method of marketing for your business. Showing the more personal side of you and your business lifestyle IS your brand. It’s with this in mind that we look at the comparisons of branding photography, commercial photography and business photography.

As with everything though, it’s not that black-and-white…

One-person businesses can choose to present themselves in a corporate or commercial way if they want to. And there is an increasing number of international corporations, such as Airbnb, that pride themselves on their approachable and friendly branding. 

Confused yet?!

sound booth head shot session

Ultimately, the point is that branding photography takes a much more personal and personable approach in showing you and your business. It’s about capturing images for you and of you to show your clients the face behind YOUR business. It’s about sharing your lifestyle in a natural and candid way. 

And if that’s not what you want to show them, then you probably need commercial or business photography instead!

The good news is, many branding photographers tackle all areas of this genre. So, whatever you search for online, you’ll find plenty of great photographers willing to work with you and your business to capture the images you want.

In part two, I’ll be talking all about what a branding photographer can do for you and your business, so do stick around to find out more!

If you’re interested in branding or commercial photography, I do both!

Next: What can a branding photographer do for you and your business?