Photography is both an artistic and commercial medium. That diversity of ways of expression is the reason why there are so many photography genres. It is also why commercial and hobby photography is so different from each other.
Of course, it does not mean that one is superior to the other. They serve very different purposes, and the truth is there is a place for both. But if you want to be a photographer, or want to hire one for a project, it helps to know the difference. And to be frank, there are many.
Commercial Photography vs. Hobby: what is the difference?
First, let’s start with definitions.
In commercial photography, photographers are commisioned by companies or other people to complete a photo project for a financial reward for their work. The project usually has preset guidelines and deadlines that the photographer must follow. Most of the time, photos serve a marketing purpose. Commercial photography includes advertising, stock, editorial, food, and product photography. If someone does commercial photography, most of the time it is their main source of income. One more thing that is not usually discussed — even if you are a freelance commercial photographer, you need to register and pay taxes for the work you do. Commercial photographers need to treat their photography more like a business and run it accordingly.
Hobbies mainly work for their pleasure. They prioritize developing a skill, an idea or concept over financial rewards. They either work independently or choose the project they want to work on. They might be paid for their work, but most of the time it is not their main source of income. A hobbyist is going to have more creative freedom, and fewer resources to work with. They can fluctuate between different kinds of photography including commercial (if they decide to shoot their friend’s child for money) and fine art (if they decide to realize an idea).
You can see that the purpose of both is very different and for that the reason the process and the results are not alike. Let’s take a look at what both of those things are and what makes them so different.
The preproduction process is not the same for habitual photographers and commercial photographers. First comes the evaluation of the scope of the project and all the available resources. For both types of photography, the resources will also differ. A hobbyist might only be working with a camera and just a couple of simple props. While a professional might need a team, and a large production budget to complete the project.
The production itself is obviously going to be different as well. Commercial photoshoots follow a brief. The majority of photo shoots are staged and directed. With commercial photography, the result — a catalog, magazine cover — guides the process. The hobbyist is going to work with whatever materials they can find, and the procedure is going to be formal. Commercial photographers do not have the same luxury. Of course, the absence of staff and technical resources is going to reflect on the quality of their work. But since hobbyists work on projects for their pleasure, they can afford to be more spontaneous and experimental with their work.
The work that goes into photographs after the photo shoot is completed might be what makes the most significant difference between the two. The commercial photographer needs to make sure that the product looks the best it possibly can. Their main purpose most of the time is either to sell something or present it in the most favorable light. That is why they often involve a lot of professional retouching and require lots of editing. Someone who treats photography as a hobby might not be as concerned with the editing. For them, post-production might only involve a little bit of retouching, and creative editing.
One of our services at NDigitec is professional photography, and retouching — so we know what a difference in quality editing can make. It can transform any regular image into a marketing masterpiece.
In their mechanics, commercial photography and photography are very different. Whether you are a commercial photographer or a habitual photographer might not determine your skill and quality of work. The terms determine not so much the skill as they do the process. People that do commercial photography live in a world of photography. They experience the best and the worst of what it has to offer. Those who do photography as a hobby are like visitors. They can pick and choose locations they want to visit and might experience only the best parts. But for them, it is also going to be much harder to master and feel completely at ease with it.
Sometimes, though, the best and most creative ideas come from blending the two and blurring the lines between being a professional and an amateur. Fortunately, photography is a medium that not only allows for it but also encourages cooperation.