If you read the title of this article closely you might be wondering what I mean by family photography and that’s understandable as it’s kind of a vague term. What I mean by family photography is family portraits, childhood milestones, and of course weddings. These are events or moments in our lives that are of significant personal importance, but they are of no real commercial value. Commercial photography on the other hand does have value for a business and we’ll explore the differences in a little more detail below.

Commercial Photos Are Promotional

Commercial photography is often created with a marketing or promotional purpose in mind – it’s a much more formal process. The photographer may take the pictures, but the business he’s working with will have a lot of input into what goes into those pictures as well. In fact they may often work in conjunction with the company’s marketing team which has a specific set of goals in mind and the photoshoot is expected to help with those goals. A photographer probably has a little less freedom of choice in such circumstances, although they still retain a lot of artistic license – after all they’ve been chosen because of their professional expertise in photography.

Family Photos or Mementos

Family photos in contrast are not designed with a specific marketing or promotional purpose in mind as they’re intended to capture important moments of our lives that we want to remember forever. We normally allow the photographer to make most of the decisions as they’re the professionals and we trust their professional judgment to capture those perfect moments in time – at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. The problem is if they don’t get things right the first time there isn’t usually a second chance unless you’re planning on getting a divorce – your wedding is a one off event so choose a photographer wisely!

Family Photos Are Not Moneymaking Ventures

Family photos really have no commercial purpose whatsoever. We don’t hire a photographer to take our wedding photos with the expectation that it’s going to make us any money in the long run. We want those photos to remember our special day and for no other reason. Commercial photos on the other hand are most definitely intended to assist a business in its long-term strategy and while they may not make any money directly the hope is that a successful promotional or marketing campaign featuring powerful still images can increase our overall business in the long-term.

Successful Commercial Photography Usually Results in Repeat Business Perhaps the biggest difference between commercial photography and family photography is that if a photographer does a good job for a commercial project it’s likely to result in consistent ongoing business – that’s not the case with family photos of any kind. That’s not to say that we won’t go back to a photographer that did a great job on our wedding photos for a family portrait, but that business is likely to be infrequent and a photographer can’t build their schedule around it. A successful commercial venture will most certainly help a photographer to fill their schedule on a regular basis.