How to Be a Commercial Photographer

Commercial Photography: learn how to compete in the exciting world of professional photography
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  • Lectures 184
  • Length 33 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 11/2012 English

Course Description


COURSE UPDATES: August 2016 4 new videos. September 2016 7 new videos

Commercial photography can be a lucrative business! It's true; photography rates can run $1000, $2000, and even $5000 per day plus expenses. A career in commercial photography can be pretty exciting while you are photographing an annual report, company brochure, travel essay, an advertisement, or traveling the globe on assignment. Is this your idea of the dream job!

Can you photograph food for a restaurant menu or a company CEO for an annual report? Do you know how to 'style' a shoe to photograph? What price should you charge for a stock photo usage?

In this course you will learn:

  • How to photograph people, places, and products
  • How to master strobe lighting
  • How to set up your business
  • How to be a creative and in-demand photographer

Learn about clients, portfolios, and marketing

  • How to find clients
  • How to create and present your portfolio
  • How to market your business
  • How to price for profit

Should you go to college or learn online?

While many general college programs teach basic through advanced photography skills, it can it takes years and cost a fortune. There are private professional schools to teach you How to Become a Professional Photographer and they have great programs but have you checked out the costs at those schools? One 10 month program in Massachusetts is over $25,000. Another very good school in Southern California does not even publish their tuition, but it is almost $100,000. Can you afford that?

This is the most complete online training in commercial photography!

That’s a bold statement isn’t it? This Commercial Photography Program is designed to meet the demands photographers experience in today’s markets, but what makes this program uniquely different is that the majority of photo examples used in the program are from real photo shoots, on real assignments, and photographed for real clients.

We did not just go into a studio and video tape where to put lights for all examples. Instead, we show you the photo taken in the studio or on location for a client. We show you in many cases why we chose the angle we used, where lights were placed, and any technical challenges we faced and how they were solved.

This course covers everything a commercial photographer might photograph:

- Portraiture

- Product Photography

- Architecture

- Corporate and Industrial

- Advertising

- Fashion and Beauty

- Travel

- Food and Beverage

- Lifestyle

- Editorial

- Stock

and some Photoshop as well.

'This is not a simple photography class. It is career training!'

Professional Photography was created as an in-depth, accelerated, and intensive program to meet the needs of aspiring pros who wish to work in today's business? It is a demanding business requiring a precise set of skills and knowledge of creative and technical processes is designed to take beginning photographers from novices to pros resulting in a portfolio to show art directors.

Photography is a business!

You will also learn how to budget for your business and studio, create marketing materials, design a portfolio, determine your photography rates, bid on jobs, price stock photography, find clients, seek a stock photo agency, and a lot more.

All you need is a dSLR camera, tripod, a few lights (see downloadable PDF on recommendations) and the passion to get started. Simply watch the intro video for examples of what is covered.


You get full unlimited access to this course forever including all future video lectures.!

And in case you did not know, Udemy has an unconditional 30 day money-back guarantee and it is not your standard guarantee, it's my promise to you that you will have the needed information to succeed in outdoor photography.



Charlie, I would like to thank you for sharing your expertise with me throughout this course. When I finish a photo shoot or finish retouching a photo in Photoshop, I am amazed at how much I have learned. A year ago I could not have imagined that I would have experienced so much.

Best regards,


I asked my friend Sarah to model for me to practice my lighting. The gym she
goes to, saw the pictures and asked me to shoot one for an ad, which is a before and after shot of Sarah. If I hadn't taken this course, I would have never had this opportunity! Thanks Charlie! Karen B. (Canada)

Charlie, Thanks for your support, this was a great course! Being really honest, it's my biggest dream to open my own studio. Now, I have to still learn, but I'm looking for possibilities for doing it. Mostly I'm interested in creating shots of people or models. Once more, thanks for your course.
Ivana K. (Czech Republic)

What are the requirements?

  • Basic understanding of the camera and equipment
  • Basic understanding of photography fundamentals
  • Basic understanding of Photoshop or similar
  • You need a camera, a lens, a computer, and ideally lighting equipment

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Become a master of photographic lighting
  • Ability to photograph people and portraits
  • Ability to photograph products
  • Ability to photograph architecture and industrial sites
  • Ability to market your photography business
  • Ability to effectively estimate assignments and stock photo sales

Who is the target audience?

  • Any person with the passion to be a professional photographer
  • Anybody looking to make part time or full time income
  • Any photographer already with a part time business wanting to expand
  • Any photographer looking to branch out into higher paying markets

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to Commercial Photography

See samples of this exciting and in-depth professional photographer training program.

Free Download: Samples of PDF Lessons
15 pages
Please Read First
2 pages
If you wish to have an instructor by your side, watch this.
22 pages
Introduction to the commercial photography business
21 pages

A close-yp look at cameras and lenses


This lecture explain in-depth histograms.


This lectures defines the strategy of exposing to the right.

19 pages

A look at photographic composition

Section 2: Understanding Equipment and Lighting

Introduction to Lighting Equipment


Introduction to Lighting Equipment


Introduction to Lighting Equipment


This first equipment video covers lights stands.


This second equipment video covers background equipment..


This third equipment video covers booms and mono lights.


This fourth equipment video covers lights modifiers.


This fifth equipment video covers reflectors and mono lights.

Q&A: Strobe Lights
4 pages

This video shows you the variety and benefits of wireless triggers.


Introduction to Lighting


Introduction to Lighting


Introduction to Lighting


This video lecture describes how shutter speed controls ambient light.


This video lecture describes how to control the scene exposure with your aperture.

Section 3: Introduction to Studio Portraits
This video is an introduction to studio portrait lighting and shows light placement.
Introduction to Portrait Lighting
Light Patterns in Portrait Photography

Key lights and Fill lights


How to create light ratios


One light and two light portraits setups


Should you light the front or the side?


Adding accent lights


How to create knockout backgrounds


Photographing full length portraits


Techniques for lighting backgrounds


This photo session was for a family in another town that I was asked to shoot. I used another photographers studio and he had a 'cove' or 'cyc' as it is often called. The family wanted to be shot on a backgorund and this video shows the setup and then teh vairety of poses and images cpatured.

Section 4: Introduction to Studio Product Photography
59 pages
This PDF covers the introduction to basic lighting for product photography.

This video lecture shows you the basics of a product photography setup in the studio.

This video shows basic product lighting techniques for a real client job.

This video is the second showing a large multi day shoot for a real client.

Critical Tool: Photoshop Layers and Masking

Understanding Photoshop is crucial to commercial photographers today and this video will show you how we use it.


Photoshop is crucial to commercial photographers today and in this video lecture we show you how we use it.

Section 5: Introduction to Location Lighting
20 pages
Location lighting brings a series of new challenges and this PDF introduces you to lighting techniques.

Photoshop is crucial to commercial photographers and this video shows you how we process our images.


Photoshop is crucial to commercial photographers and this video lecture shows you a powerful retouching tool.


This video shows you how we retouched an interior on a real shoot.


This video lecture shows you how to work quickly on location with one light.

Section 6: Lighting Color Mangement

This video introduces the concepts behind lighting color management.


This video discusses how to deal with ambient light color and treatment.


This video details using a color meter and lighting color management.


This video details the concepts behind lighting color management.


This video details more concepts behind lighting color management.


This video details how to match strobes with ambient light.


This video summarizes the strategy and concepts of lighting color management.

Section 7: Introduction to Lighting People on Location
21 pages
Lighting people on location is different than in the studio and this PDF lesson shows you how.
This video shows how I photographed an assignment on the Ax-men reality logging show.
Photoshop is crucial to commercial photographers and this short video shows to to burn and dodge an image in a non-destructive manner.
Occasionally you may be asked to photograph on location and the client ask you to shoot in very small spaces. This short clip shows you how the lights were setup to create great portraits in a very small space.
Section 8: Introduction to Flash Photography
40 pages
Flash photography is a very useful tool when strobe lights are not available or feasible. This PDF lesson covers the fundamentals of flash which work differently than strobes.
Like strobe lights, aperture can control flash exposure as well, but can be controlled differently than strobes.
Camera shooting modes affect the way flash works and this video lecture shows you the differences.
Understanding the Canon 600EX-RT
This video will show you the features and functions of this Canon flash.
This is the first video showing the features and functions of the Canon 580EX.
This is the third video showing the features and functions of the Canon 580EX.
Video overview of flash exposure compensation.
This video lecture shows how to compensate exposure on the Canon flashes.
This intro lecture shows how the SB800 functions and features work.
Part 2 of understanding the Nikon SB800.
Overview of flash exposure compensation with Nikon SB800.
Part 1 of understanding the functions and features Nikon SB900.
Part 2 of understanding the functions and features Nikon SB900
Part 2 of understanding the functions and features Nikon SB900
Part 4 of understanding the functions and features Nikon SB900
How to use manual flash.
This video shows you the difference between flash fill and flash key.
6 pages

Here are great some questions asked on previous flash courses on how flash works. 

3 pages
Here are great some questions asked on previous flash courses on how flash works. 
Section 9: Introduction to Architecture Photography

This introductory video discusses the in's and out's of photographing for architecture and real estate.


This video gives an over view of equipment for shooting architecture and real estate.


There are several types of supplemental lights that can be used in architecture and real estate photography and this video looks at the pros and cons of each type.


This video gives and overview of cameras and lenses suitable for architecture and real estate photography.


This video gives and overview of cameras and lenses suitable for architecture and real estate photography.


There are lenses available that are great benefit to the architecture and real estate photographer.


This video covers how to light interiors with strobes and flash.


This video looks deeper into lighting for architecture interiors Part 2.


There is a difference between shooting architecture and shooting for real estate and this video discusses those differences.


This video introduces you to photographing building exteriors.


This video discusses how to find the best angles for shooting a building.


This video continues the discussion on finding angles for exterior images.

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Instructor Biography

Charlie Borland, Professional Photographer for 30+ years and Lighting Master

Charlie Borland has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. He has traveled extensively for a wide range of clients including: Xerox, NW Airlines, Fujitsu, Nike, Blue Cross, Nationsbank, Mentor Graphics, Texas Instruments, Cellular One, Early Winters, Camelbak, Columbia Sportswear, and many more.

His imagery has been used thousands of times worldwide, including: National Geographic Adventure and Traveler, Outside, Women's Sport and Fitness, Newsweek, TV Guide, Sports Illustrated for Women, Time, Backpacker, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Eco Traveler, Southern Bell, to name a few.

Charlie has taught photography throughout his career and teaches internet courses and location workshops. He has lectured on photography in the US and Middle East . He is co-author of Understanding Flash with Bryan Peterson and author of the eBook: Outdoor Flash Photography available on his website: borlandphoto(dot)com.

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