Breaking Down the Difference: Commercial vs. Portrait Photography

Breaking Down the Difference: Commercial vs. Portrait Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words—and can bring in a few thousand dollars if used well. What used to only aid in a painter’s work is now being utilized to support the advertising efforts of businesses across the globe. 

Photos play a crucial role in advertising and marketing. In fact, they could either make or break your campaign!

Photography: An Advertising and Marketing Investment

One photo can have a significant impact on your business. Instead of seeing photography as a waste of finances, think of it as a wise investment that will pay off for your brand—but it has to be used correctly. Since your consumers are bombarded with an abundance of choices, you only have a few seconds to create a good impression. Banking on branding and aesthetic appeal can help you win against your competitors!

Beyond catching your consumer’s eye, imagery can enhance your product or service, leave an impression, and transform your content from just “alright” to downright “amazing!” The story you tell through your photos can tie a whole advertising campaign together and improve your branding, thus changing the way people perceive and think about the quality and value of your business.

Choosing The Right Photography Service

Perception matters. Presenting the same product differently can make it more attractive to the public—but only if you invest in the right kind of photography. The type of photography you apply in your advertising efforts can significantly affect the success of your campaign. 

There’s a big difference between commercial and portrait photography; they come from opposite spectrums and have their own legal provisions and implications. The wrong kind of photo not only hurts your campaign, but you may even go through unnecessary legal battles, thus wasting your time and money!

If you want to skip the hassle and avoid any trouble with the law, you should learn about the difference between commercial and portrait photography.

Commercial Photography

Commercial photography involves producing photos for commercial purposes. As long as it will be used for marketing or advertising purposes, whether it’s a portrait, headshot, or product shot, it is considered commercial photography. 

Commercial photos may be used for websites and promotional materials. You should hire a commercial photographer near you if you want pictures for your campaign.

To have a copy of the files in high resolution, a business needs to acquire a usage license. Once the photographer sells their copyright ownership, they will cease to be the owner! As such, they won’t be permitted to use the photos without your approval, consent, and license. Your company will have little to no restrictions once you become the owner of the photos; you can edit them according to your liking. 

Portrait Photography

Meanwhile, portrait photography is not used for commercial purposes but for the personal use of an individual or a group of people. These photos are most often used to document a moment in their life, to be enjoyed only for themselves and not meant to be viewed by the public. Any photo that isn’t used for business is considered portrait photography.

The most notable difference between commercial and portrait photography is the restriction! Unlike in commercial photography, photographers have complete control over the treatment, usage, and editing of the photos; you won’t be able to alter them at all.


If you want to have photos for commercial use, reach out to a commercial photographer near you. Sign a commercial use contract and pay for every licensed use so that you can edit and use the photos for your campaigns. Know the guidelines and restrictions so that you can have great photos without implications.

Do you want to have amazing photos for your company’s campaign? Leave it to our business photographer at Armitage Photography Inc. to produce the photos that you want! We offer high-end digital imagery, post-production services, photo branding, photo consultation, product photography, and studio rental in Norcross, GA. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services!

For more information and how to book services, please reach out via email at or via phone at 404.247.5458. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn for exceptional photo inspiration as well as photography tips and tricks.

John Armitage

John Armitage is the founder of Armitage Photography, Inc. in Norcross, Georgia. He's passionate about product photography and hosting classes teaching various elements of professional photography in Lilburn and Atlanta, GA.

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