This category includes establishments primarily engaged in providing commercial photography services to advertising agencies, publishers, and other business and industrial users. Establishments primarily engaged in still and video portrait photography are classified in SIC 7221: Photographic Studios, Portrait, and those primarily engaged in mapmaking are classified in SIC 7389: Business Services, Not Elsewhere Classified. Establishments primarily engaged in producing commercial video tape or films are classified in SIC 7812: Motion Picture and Video Tape Production.
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Commercial photographers provide the images for American business. Whether those images are as simple as a daytime photograph of a small town ice cream shop for a newspaper advertisement, or as complex as a carefully lit, elaborately staged still photo of an ice cream sundae for a nationally distributed magazine advertisement, they are created by commercial photographers. Commercial photographers also provide photos for annual reports, brochures, catalogs, and a range of other business needs. "Commercial work means: You make it. We photograph it," photographer Bud Hjerstedt told the Northeastern Wisconsin Business Review. "You can't think of a single thing, a single company, that cannot use photography."
The commercial photography industry is remarkably eclectic, with few boundaries in terms of business size or activity. Large cities may provide employment for hundreds of commercial photographers, some working out of shops with several thousand square feet of studio space and sophisticated film processing facilities, some working freelance with their own equipment and facilities. In larger markets, many commercial shops develop specialties in some area of photography, such as food, fashion, or industrial photography. Small towns, on the other hand, may have just a few commercial photographers who shoot an advertising layout one day, a senior picture the next, and a wedding on the weekend. At the time of the last industry census in 2002, there were just over 4,255 commercial photography establishments with combined revenues of $1.9 billion operating in the United States.
Salaries for commercial photographers depend on the region and how hard the photographer is willing to work. Ken Bourdon of Bourdon & Bourdon Studios told the Tribune...