Skills Every Commercial Photography Expert Has to Have

commercial photography

Commercial photography is an art that demands years of discipline and practice. Several skills are required, and every one of them has to be up to par if you want to learn how to become a pro.


Learn your craft. Photography has been around since the late 19th century so a lot of artists have had a lot of time to develop the art. Taking time to study the major trends throughout history pays off tremendously in your ability to spot good work. You’ll pick up on patterns. Study the different forms, including fashion photography, portrait photography, and sports photography. Each adds to your visual acuity, and you’ll begin to pick up on photography tips and tricks that are used in commercial photography. Read manuals, practice, and experiment.


Digital photography has taken over. While film will always have its place, most commercial work today is done digitally, as it is faster and cheaper. Digital proponents argue that digital quality even exceeds film.
A modern photographer should therefore have knowledge of such programs as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. It pays to know what can be adjusted and shaped later in post-production, which helps to expand your creativity on the spot. Develop at least a familiarity with the software, and you’ll find a whole area of avenues to explore in your work.


As an art, photography tries for perfection. While none of us may ever realistically achieve perfection, the artist never stops trying. Go over your work analytically to find your mistakes and try to correct them the next day. You always need to search for ways to improve.


It is no shame at all to copy the work of others for practice. Practice is not your time to be creative or original, but to learn. In copying model work (emulating exposure choices, decisions about shutter speed, etc.), you get inside the head of the photographer you admire. You get a better understanding of why certain choices were made, which enables you to make similar choices on your own.


You might think you were born with a predetermined amount of creativity in your brain, but that is not the case. Creativity works like any other skill, and can be improved through practice. It comes down to a set of mental habits and attitudes that can be deliberately reinforced until they become natural. Such habits and attitudes include using metaphors to spark ideas, mind mapping, and trying out every bad idea to get to the golden one. Your studies will help here as well, as you’ll be able to mix and match all those photographic tips and tricks.


This one is saved for last since it is the most obvious. If you ever expect to go pro and not remain at the level of photography for beginners, your tools need to be extensions of your hands, as clients will not stand around and wait for you as you figure out how to turn the flash off.

Learning how to become a photographer requires the same patience, discipline, and persistence as any other art form. Focus on the basic skills listed here and you’ll be well on your way to going professional. Additionally, a very good way to continuously improve your skills in this area is by going to commercial photography workshops. You can learn so much from such photography courses and practice your skills at the same time.

About Peter Manning

Photography instructor, camera guru, avid tennis player and family man; Peter shares his vast knowledge and a passion for teaching photography skills to all levels of photo enthusiasts.