Commercial photographers take pictures both indoors and outdoors that are intended for business use. Their photographs may be of buildings models and merchandise and their work usually appears in newspapers magazines and on billboards but it can also be shown on television or on the internet.
Commercial photographers must have a high degree of technical expertise with photographic equipment which they use to enhance the subject of their photographs in some cases by enlarging them or by changing the light or angle. They must also have a good eye and be creative in order to produce images that convey a concept in the best possible way.
Depending on the assignment some use silver-halide film cameras but most often they use digital cameras which make it possible for them to edit the photographs electronically. If they are self-employed commercial photographers usually develop an electronic portfolio of their work that they display on the internet in order to market their skills and attract potential clients.
Not only do they work on assignment but in some cases they may license the use of their photographs through stock-photo agencies. These agencies sell these photographs to customers and then pay a commission to the photographer.
There are no specific education requirements for this profession but a college degree is helpful especially if individuals have taken photography courses. Many become skilled by first working as assistants to more experienced commercial photographers. This profession is highly competitive because there are more photographers than there are job opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average annual salary for this profession is approximately $29000 but earnings can be as low as $17000 or it can exceed $63000.