Category: Commercial Photography

5 photography magazines to read before the end of 2019

There is something about a magazine. In a world obsessed with its data footprint, it feels almost magical to physically hold creativity in your hands. The polished covers are so often home to a world of escapism and aspiration. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that a solitary moment flicking through pages of a weekly or monthly chronicle can be enough to spark your imagination. 

To help you along, we’ve picked five of the best photography magazines to read before the end of 2019. Whether you need practical advice, editing tips or a good old fashioned dose of inspiration, there’s something for you. Take a pew, brew some coffee and hunker down with a some of the best reads in photography-based literature….

Practical Photography

 Practical Photography Magazine cover

Practical Photography Magazine

Practical Photography covers all bases. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a curious first-time snapper or simply someone about to go on a holiday with a new camera, Practical Photography is a sound bet for you. From product reviews and how-to-guides to industry advice and interviews, it’s an accessible piece of journalism that lives up to its name. If you want a magazine that does what it says on the tin, this is it. 

Coupled with a great Instagram account and some truly beautiful shots, particularly by travel photographers, it’s not all just business. Practical Photography is a magazine that appreciates the art beyond the shot just as much as it appreciates the intricacies of the technology. The result, therefore, it a well-balanced combination of art and practice. 

Digital Photographer Magazine 

Digital Photographer Magazine cover

Digital Photographer Magazine

If you want detail and expertise, look no further than Digital Photographer Magazine. The monthly journal dives in deep to give readers informative and practical content on how to learn and maximise your potential in photography. Products are tested and reviewed and features on cameras are explained. What’s more, professional photographers’ advice is peppered throughout the pieces in order to bring expert, hands-on tips to readers who might be starting out. 

This magazine also offers free digital tools to readers. From editing resources to tutorials, the digital extras work as practical perks for those who really want to fine tune their work. Therefore, Digital Photographer Magazine doesn’t stop when you turn the final page. Between the free digital content and their website, it’s a magazine that’s with you throughout the creative process. 

British Journal of Photography 

British Journal of Photography Magazine cover

British Journal of Photography

Founded in 1854, the British Journal of Photography is an iconic name in the world of magazines. Structured thematically, it hones in each month on subjects that are synonymous with photography oeuvres. 

Whether the magazine is looking at place or sport, birth or politics, it does so in a fresh and contemporary way. Particularly strong on coupling photographs with well-written articles, its features have considered some of the biggest names in the industry, most recently Tim Walker. 

Ultimately, what the BJP does well is to champion the work of up and coming artists. The result is a magazine with its finger on the pulse. A zine for the zeitgeist before society has defined its meaning. 

If you want a beautiful magazine that’s rich with creative features and photography news, the British Journal of Photography is certainly a reputable option for you. 

Digital SLR Photography Magazine 

Digital SLR Photography Magazine

Digital SLR Photography Magazine

Coupling aspirational shots with monthly features, Digital SLR Photography Magazine is your go-to name for all things SLR. This is a magazine that pays attention to the intricacies of being a good photographer achieving standardised and impressive shots. 

Their ‘location guide’ feature looks at one place each month and talks a reader through how to get the best results from that spot. Readers also praise the magazine’s analysis of kit. 

If you’re looking for reviews of the latest tools and gadgets, the expert writers at Digital SLR Photography Magazine have got you covered.  There is nothing basic or generic about their consideration of the options available to you on the market. No stone remains unturned. 

If You Leave Magazine 

If You Leave photography magazine

If You Leave Magazine

If You Leave Magazine, also known as IYL, is a thoroughly modern venture. Born from a Tumblr account, it’s made the unorthodox transition from screen to page. In an era of magazines choosing to digitalise in order to save money, IYL has taken to paper. 

The result is a minimalist, beautiful lay-out that showcases the best in young talent. While the photographs are varied and each shot is fresh, there is a common denominator. The work is bound by a dream-like, melt-in-your-mouth delicious quality. This is a magazine to soak up and savour.

If you want tips on importing and export, editing and sharpening, this isn’t for you. Instead, opt for IYL if you want a magazine that will push your creative boundaries and leave you muttering ‘I wish I’d taken that.’ 

All in all, there’s something for everyone. The key is to know exactly what you want from a photography magazine. Whether you’re an inquisitive beginner who is keen to pick up some handy tips or a seasoned professional seeking some fresh inspiration and industry know-how, between print and digital, there’s certainly something for you.

For even more inspiration and to get an idea about the services we offer, check out our portfolio page.

How do I get started as a commercial photographer?

Commercial photography is a lucrative and creative field that comprises of a plethora of different industries. Whether working in fashion or food, lifestyle or portrait, commercial photographers must master the art of producing pictures that people want to buy.

While many report the commercial industry to be a daunting and difficult one to initially crack, the established photographers working in it describe it as a rewarding sector. But, how exactly is the best way of getting started and what are the different types of commercial photography?

Take a look through our comprehensive, but not exhaustive, list of genres to begin your quest to become a commercial photographer.


Whether it’s the perfect wedding shot or a headshot that captures the character of a professional, the art of the portrait is a powerful one. Staff portraits personalise and de-mystify a brand. Portraits of school children create memories for parents to treasure. Big names such as Annie Leibowitz, Richard Avedon and David Bailey have been commissioned to photograph the world’s stars. In turn, they’ve produced some of the most iconic portraits that have come to symbolise eras and movements.  

portrait photograph of employee against blue background


Fashion photography is, perhaps, the most well-known niche in commercial photography. From high fashion magazines to traditional catalogues and billboards, commercial photographers work hard to sell a vision. Think fashion models, glamorous studios and beautiful sets. Fashion stills work as a window into a world so often understood as fantasy beyond the quotidian.

model on catwalk with seated audience taking photos with phone


In the same way that fashion sells a vision, lifestyle photography is a tool which, when used well, can supercharge a business. Leading brands rely on lifestyle photographers to shoot lucrative advertising campaigns. It’s about striking a balance between a fly-on the wall documentary and a well-staged photoshoot. It’s about capturing every day life. We’ve written a list of dos and don’ts for anyone embarking on a career as a lifestyle photographer. 

Architectural or interior

Capturing a building in a still photograph is no mean feat, and often requires knowledge of and experience with specialist techniques and cameras. Commercial photographers who shoot architecture and interiors seek life in the static, breathing magic into bricks and mortar and translating the shapes of society into a creative picture. DSLR cameras have come into their own in architectural photography due to their detachable, tilt-shift lenses which have varying focal lengths. 

architectural photography of three impressive, tall buildings looking up from the ground


In an age of ever-growing consumerism, product photography is a vital tool for any modern business. Much like with fashion and lifestyle, a well-shot photograph can transform the trajectory of a product’s success. Perfectly lit compositions put the product at the heart of the vision. Read further about the importance of product photography in the ever developing world of ecommerce. Product photography is one area Spencer Cobby specialises in, so do get in touch if you’d like to know more about the service he offers.


There’s so much more to food photography than sepia-toned snaps of avocado brunches on Instagram. Colourful, dynamic shots of cocktails and artisan bakes, sushi and steaks surround us. They filter through to our supermarket shelves and cook books and influencing what we buy and eat. It’s little wonder then that some of the biggest food retailers plough millions into marketing their products. You don’t really need much to get started in food and drink photography. We’ve listed some simple, inexpensive tactics to get your on your way when it comes to snapping food and drink in this blog post. You don’t need lots of complicated equipment to begin your culinary photography journey. 

flatlay photograph pf pizza in restaurant

How do I get started as a commercial photographer?

Your unique selling point

Knowing what makes your photography style your own is a powerful thing. Having a unique selling point (USP) in your work will make you memorable and help you pack a punch in a competitive industry.

Find an opportunity to offer something that no-one else has thought of offering. It’s worth the effort to work this out. It will make you stand out from the crowd and distinguish you from those who might offer to do the same service for free. Check out this article for helpful tips on finding your USP as a photographer.

Get the right tools

Taking the time to familiarise yourself with your equipment is not to be underestimated. Knowing what works for you ultimately means you’ll produce more consistent photographs that appeal to employers. What’s more, being comfortable with the tools of the trade will help you to really hone your creative style. Professionals suggest investing in a tripod and a lightbox to compliment your camera of choice. You can read about Spencer Cobby’s camera of choice here.

Setting up a studio

Getting comfortable in a studio means you’re more likely to produce the best work, especially if you hope to work in ecommerce product photography or the competitive fashion industry. Owning your space and knowing what you can achieve in it will allow you to set up the most interesting and creative shots. Here’s a great guide on how to set up your own home photography studio. Do you want natural light or are you a flash photographer? Do you want a fixed location or mini portable studio? What photography gear will you need? Small spaces can work to your advantage – portrait and product photography particularly can take place almost anywhere. 

Develop your portfolio

Once you’ve got your camera and your distinctive style sorted, it’s time to get to work on building your portfolio. The key to commercial success is to show breadth and depth in what you’re capable of therefore. Variation is essential. A strong portfolio is the best thing to have in your arsenal as a commercial photographer so, keeping it fresh and up to date should be a priority.  

If you’re starting out in the world of portrait photography, photograph your friends’ children. You get some amazing photos for your website (with their permission, of course) and your friends get free photos of their kids to frame.

Practice your editing

The best way to produce an impressive portfolio of quality photographs is to train yourself as an expert editor. The post production side of the process is equally as important as the initial click of the button in the digital age. Familiarising yourself with Photoshop or a similar programme is a good investment of your time when it comes to brightness, saturation, contrast and vividness. Small adjustments can go a long way to making your images stand out. Just don’t forget to make the same edits to all your photos – it’s all about creating a consistent look across your work as a commercial photographer. 

Build up a good address book

With your honed and polished portfolio to hand, it’s now time to seek out clients who are willing to part with their cash for your beautiful photographs. Whether you sell the fruit of your labour via a well-marketed social media presence or you prefer a good, old fashioned phone book, the key is to establish your personal brand from day one.

What is clear is that there is no clearly defined formula for success or guaranteed trajectory in an ever-changing industry. However, there are steps you can take to establish yourself as a commercial photographer known for your quality and creative eye. Follow these steps and you’ll find what works best for you. 

7 things you need to know about ecommerce photography rates

As an ecommerce merchant trading in today’s busy online marketplace, you’ll know that how you showcase your products online has never been so important. It’s simple: the better your products look on your website, the more you will sell. Your ecommerce images maximise visual appeal, showcase your products’ unique selling points, and create a sense of desire amongst consumers. Over 50% of those who buy online consider product photography to be more important than information about the product, rating and reviews.

With this in mind, outsourcing your product photography to an experienced professional is an investment worth making. Not only will a professional ecommerce photographer capture high-quality photos to transform your online store, but you’ll be able to use these images to create lots of vibrant and engaging marketing collateral too.

How much does ecommerce photography cost?

You’ve decided that investing in professional product photography for your ecommerce business is the right move. Now, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost to hire a photographer to produce these all-important product snaps. 

There’s no simple or set answer when it comes to ecommerce photography rates. Of course, fees will vary depending on the volume of images you need and usage you require, but there are some other important factors to consider too.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that affect the cost of ecommerce photography in more detail …

#1 Studio type

photography studio set up

When on the hunt for a professional product photography service, you’ll notice that there are two types of studios that could help. The type of studio you choose will affect the price you pay.

If you’re looking to use a local service, then an independent studio is a great choice. A simple internet search will highlight all the independent photographers based in your area – there may be more than you think! Often, local independent photography studios are a one-person operation, which means the photographer you’ll be working with can offer a wealth of experience across all areas of a project. You’re more likely to receive a more tailored, individual service that really takes into account the unique needs of your business too. You may be able to negotiate rates with an independent photographer.

For large-scale product photography projects, a larger full-service studio may be a better fit. Although this type of studio can usually handle larger shipments of products, you might not receive the personalised service that a local independent photographer can offer. Furthermore, you’re less likely to be able to negotiate rates.

#2 Charging structure

As you would expect, different photographers and studios charge for their services in different ways. Depending on the size of your individual project, you might prefer one charging structure to another.

Ecommerce photography rates are usually calculated by the hour or day, per product, or per image.

At Spencer Cobby Photography, fees for white background product packshots and simple lifestyle shots are based on either an hourly, half-day or full-day rate:

Per hour – 1-4 images depending on brief – £95

Half day (4 hours) – 1-20 images depending on brief – £270

Full day (8 hours) – 1-40 images depending on brief – £425

These prices include studio time, photographer, basic digital clean-up and colour correction. These rates are used only as a guide, and are negotiable subject to volume and usage.

#3 Product type

Ecommerce photography rates can also differ depending on the type of product being photographed. This is because some types of products require more pre-shoot preparation than others. For instance, some products might require extensive cleaning or styling before photography can get underway.

Clothing and food items are good examples of products that require extensive preparation. Clothes might need ironing, folding in a certain way, or pairing with other apparel on a mannequin. Food products often need to be presented in a special way in order to make them look as edible as possible. Preparation means time. And time translates into increased fees. There may be some preparation time factored into the initial rates that you are quoted, but it is always worth checking this before a shoot takes place.

flat bread pizza with cheese and chilli topping from The Flat restaurant, Exeter by Spencer Cobby Photography

#4 Image type

Another key factor to consider is image type. Are you looking for a set of formal white-background shots? Would you like lifestyle images to showcase your products? Or is a mix of image types the best solution for you?

White-background shots are an effective way of communicating key details about your products and really highlighting any unique selling points. A set of high-quality, consistent photos like this give your ecommerce store a professional feel, helping to increase trust between you and your target audience.

Lifestyle images showcase your products in real-life scenarios, often with models who resemble the target audience. As well as telling the story of your brand, these types of product photographs are an effective way of connecting with customers’ emotions and creating a compelling sense of desire. They offer consumers a tangible lifestyle idea to aspire to – a must for arousing interest and increasing sales.

Think about these options in advance. Which image type will work best for your business? Lifestyle images require sets and props, so come with an increased price tag. The cost will depend on many factors, including location, models and sets – more on this next.

#5 Set construction

If your lifestyle images require a set to be built, this is going to significantly change the photography rates.

Sets can range from simple backdrops with a few relevant props, to full room settings with extensive detail. Depending on the complexity of the set, they can be time-consuming to design and build. The photography process can also take much longer when a set is involved.

product photography shoot for Nkuku by Spencer Cobby Photography

Photography rates for lifestyle set images will depend on set design, materials needed and props required. Here at Spencer Cobby Photography, we love to get creative, and can produce your chosen backdrop before we begin shooting. This comes at an additional fee. We can accommodate small tweaks to your set at no extra charge, which means each image we produce for you is unique. For more significant changes, there may be additional setup charges.

#6 Location hire

You may need to hire a location for your product photography shoot, which can impact the photography rates you pay. Getting out of the studio tends to open up much more room for creativity. It offers the chance to capture more distinctive images that will engage customers and really reflect what your brand is about.

woman photographing product in a large white room

The cost of hiring a location can vary greatly depending on your needs. As such, most professional photographers will need to provide a bespoke quotation when it comes to a location-based shoot.

When budgeting for this type of shoot, think about how long you will need your location for, if any special equipment is required, and how you will transport your products there.

#7 Post-production options

Remember to take into account the cost of editing when budgeting for your product photography project. The editing process is where images really come to life, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Here at Spencer Cobby Photography, we provide basic digital editing as standard. This includes clean-up and colour adjustment on all images. Each photograph, whether captured in the studio or on location, is carefully edited to specification. We also offer advanced editing options to our clients, including cut-outs and clipping paths. This service comes at an additional cost, which is dependent on specific needs and image volume.

Spencer Cobby ecommerce photography

With this knowledge of ecommerce photography rates under your belt, we hope you’ll be able to make an informed decision when it comes to hiring the right product photographer for you.

Professional ecommerce photography is one of the many services we offer here at Spencer Cobby Photography. Thanks to our extensive experience in the industry, we can create high-quality product images that connect with your customers and ultimately help increase sales. Whether you require formal cut-out shots or more relaxed lifestyle images, our local Exeter studio is more than equipped to accommodate your needs.

If you’d like to find out more about our ecommerce photography rates or perhaps discuss a bespoke quotation, please do get in touch. We love connecting with ambitious brands looking to optimise their online stores with high-quality product photography.

You can explore some of our recent ecommerce photography work over on our website – check out some examples here.

Natural vs artificial light in commercial photography

The word ‘photo’ means ‘light’, so it’s not surprising that the single most important factor in commercial photography is, of course, light. Light is the foundation of photography – of this, we’re certain. However, something that people aren’t so sure about is which type of lighting is best: natural or artificial? There are many arguments for and against each type, with this topic often forming a hotly contested debate amongst photographers.  

Join us as we compare natural and artificial lighting. We’ll consider how to make best use of each type in your quest for amazing commercial photography. 

Natural light 

image showing natural light from the suns rays in a landscape photograph

Natural light is produced by the sun or the moon. Perhaps the biggest benefit of natural lighting is that it costs nothing to make use of. Whilst you can invest in gadgets to help maximise results, it is easy to get stunning photos using natural light, without spending any money. If you do decide to enhance naturally-lit shots with reflectors and diffusers, this generally doesn’t come with a high price tag. Natural light is also perfect for beginner photographers to experiment with. It helps provide an understanding of how light works before taking on the complexities of artificial lighting.  

Of course, the biggest challenge with natural light is its rather unpredictable nature. It varies depending on the time of day, the weather, the season and the location you’re shooting in. Light quality can change in an instant, which will affect the softness, intensity and colour of your photos.  

Artificial light 

image of a photography studio with artificial lights set up

Artificial light, on the other hand, is anything that excludes natural light. It is produced by electric light fixtures to deliver the required aesthetic effect in a photography studio or on location. Artificial lighting includes hot lights, which are warm in colour temperature, and strobe lights, which burst out a large amount of light in a fraction of a second. 

Artificial lighting is more easily controlled than natural light, negating the unpredictability that comes with the Great British weather conditions. This is particularly useful if you’re shooting multiple products over several hours and have tight deadlines to meet. Artificial lighting is also much more convenient. It’s available at any time of the day or night, meaning you can be a lot more flexible with the scheduling of photoshoots. The versatility of artificial lighting is a huge draw for many photographers, with a vast array of creative results available.   

One of the common shortcomings of artificial lighting is the cost involved. Professional artificial lighting equipment and accessories often come with a high price tag, which can be off-putting for some photographers. Setting up artificial lights also requires more time, space and experience. 

Which is better for commercial photography? 

There’s no straightforward answer to this – it all depends on a number of factors. When choosing which type of lighting to use in a commercial photography shoot, you need to consider what will work best for the style and story of the brand you’re shooting and the subject of your photographs. It’s also worth thinking about current photography trends and what type of lighting will produce the most ‘en vogue’ images. For some commercial photoshoots, natural light is better than artificial light, and vice versa. The key to taking the best possible photos is being able to determine which type of light is more appropriate for the specific shoot you’re working on. 

Nkuku – leading with naturally-lit images  

image showing commercial photography shots for Nkuku home range using natural light

We’ve recently been working with local home and lifestyle brand, Nkuku, on a number of commercial photography projects. These projects are a perfect example of how natural and artificial lighting each have their place on a commercial website.  

Nkuku lead with daylight images to reflect their passion for natural, authentic products. Their choice to go with naturally-lit primary images on their site reflects what they stand for as a brand, helping to tell their story to potential customers. It also represents a general photography trend towards ‘the natural look’, where the emphasis is on objects as they are intended to be used. 

The secondary images on Nkuku’s website, as well as the photographs in their catalogue, were produced using artificial lighting. These flash-lit ecommerce images are used purely as a means of describing the product in the clearest, most detailed way possible. 

Simplex Kettles – leading with artificially-lit images  

image of a simplex kettle shot by Spence Cobby Photography using artificial light

For another of our clients, Simplex Kettles, it made better commercial sense to lead with artificially-lit ecommerce photos. They wanted to focus on the detail of their products and draw consumers’ attention to the unique features of each kettle. The crisp contrast between the products and the bright white background achieves exactly this. This also represents a trend towards clean-cut, minimalist photographs 

And so, when it comes to choosing between natural and artificial light in commercial photography, there’s no set answer. What type of lighting you use will ultimately come down to the client brief, the end goal, your budget and your personal preference as a photographer. Let us know which type of light you prefer working with. Do you prefer the softer results of using natural light, or is the convenience of artificial lighting more appealing to you? 

To find out more about the commercial photography services we offer, and to see some more examples of our recent projects, check out our website.

Impact through imagery: why is professional photography so important for charities?

We live in a world that’s saturated with information. News stories vie for our attention at every opportunity whilst businesses overload us with content through multiple platforms. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that professional photography is a hugely powerful medium for getting a message across quickly and effectively. With our busy lives charging full steam ahead, it’s difficult to consume written content. Words take time to read and digest. Images, on the other hand, have an immediate impact. They take considerably less time and energy to process – just a split-second.  

For charities, there’s no doubting the immense power that photography can have. Let’s take a closer look at why professional photography is so important for charities … 

It helps to tell a story 

Visual storytelling is one of the most potent ways of getting an organisation’s message across. Just a single image can help communicate a message to the audience, and quickly. Photographs complement written content within marketing collateral – words and images working in harmony to create a lasting impact. Charities can use imagery to quickly and simply inform and educate people of their work, without bombarding them with mountains of text. Images can also provide more context to the audience, helping them gain a better understanding of a charity’s mission. 

It increases emotional engagement  

As consumers of a vast amount of content, we’ve become experts at spotting the same over-polished stock images popping up on various sites and platforms time and time again. By relying on stock images to tell their story, charities run the risk of their message falling flat. These over-used images don’t have the same evocative impact of unique professional photographs. They are less likely to elicit an emotional reaction, and therefore less likely to be remembered and acted upon by the audience. 

The use of ‘real-life’ images, on the other hand, can be hugely emotive. Professional photos of real people who benefit from a charity’s work will elicit an emotional reaction from an audience. This is important for encouraging people to support fundraising appeals or to become regular donors. In fact, research suggests that the emotional intensity of images can stimulate donations. Photographs that elicit people’s sympathy are more likely to spur donations, demonstrating the notable impact that imagery can have.  

Research also suggests that people donate more when they receive information about a specific individual they can relate to, rather than a social group. For instance, the public are more likely to empathise and engage with a photograph that portrays how an individual became homeless, rather than a stereotypical image of a homeless person. Yet another example to demonstrate the importance of visual storytelling through professional photography for charities.  

It humanises charities 

Humans connect to, relate to and trust other humans. So, it figures that humanising a brand is an important part of gaining consumers’ trust. Showing the faces behind a company can make it much more relatable, memorable and trustworthy. For a charity, placing staff portrait photographs across its website and marketing collateral is a key way of engendering trust with an audience. It’s a personal touch that instantly sparks a connection. As well as professional staff headshots, posting photos of staff and volunteers preparing for fundraising events or celebrating donation milestones is a great way to humanise a charity and build trust.  

And it’s not just photographs of staff that have this humanising effect. Professional lifestyle photography of the charity’s service users can be hugely impactful. In just a split-second, the audience can see exactly how their support can help. Photos like this facilitate a connection that cannot so easily be forged with just words.  

It conveys an organisation’s values 

No matter the size, mission or following of a charity, professional photographs are a useful tool for communicating its core values. A photographer who has an understanding of a charity and its ethos will be able to capture this in their images, helping to convey the spirit of a charity to the wider community. Professional photographs used by charities act as ambassadors for the work they do. High-quality professional photos reflect positively on organisations, carrying connotations of trust and reputability. This is important for generating new support and strengthening relationships with existing donors. 

A clear range of benefits  

For charitable organisations, it’s clear that their message can resonate much more profoundly with their audiences through the use of professional photography. There are tangible benefits to be had if charities can harness the power of photography and use it to their advantage. Not only do professional photographs tell a much more persuasive, emotive story than words alone, but they create an immediate impact. In a world experiencing a constant information overload, this has never been more important.  

Our professional photography services  

We provide professional photography services for a diverse range of clients, including charities of all sizes. To find out more about the photography services we offer, and to see some examples of some recent projects, take a look on our website. And if you’ve got any questions about how professional photography can help your charity, please do get in touch

What is commercial photography?

Put simply, commercial photography means taking photos for business use. It’s about creating images to help promote and sell products and services. These images can be featured in adverts, brochures, leaflets, merchandising and menus, to name just a few of their uses. A commercial photographer understands how things sell. They have the skills to create images that inspire emotions and encourage purchases. Commercial photographs should align closely to the overall branding strategy for a product or service, speaking directly to the target audience. This type of photography is all about producing a rich reserve of cohesive images that create a consistent visual identity, helping demonstrate a business’ core values. Good commercial photography is a powerful marketing tool that can have a positive impact on awareness and sales. 

Commercial photography is an umbrella for various types of photography, the most popular of which we will explore in more detail below … 

Product photography 

A huge and complex area of photography in itself, product photography is a key strand of commercial photography. Product photos can be used on ecommerce sites, in printed catalogues and across social media channels. They are a key driver of engagement, conversion and retention, both on- and offline.  

commercial photography from Spencer Cobby Photography for Newey and Bloomer website

Product photos provide important information to potential customers, making up for a lack of physical interaction. Formal cut-out shots portray products from a variety of angles, highlighting key features. They help shoppers make informed buying decisions and can increase customer satisfaction by catering to consumers’ needs for strong visuals. Another way in which product photography can lead to commercial success is by creating a sense of desire. Commercial lifestyle photos that show products and services being used or employed in their natural environment give consumers something to aspire to. Furthermore, the quality and style of product photos can convey the spirit of a brand, acting as ambassadors for a business. 

To find out more about the vital role product photography plays in marketing, check out our blog post

Business headshots 

Another type of commercial photography to consider is the business headshot. Professional staff portraits are a highly versatile and often-underestimated marketing tool. They help present a business in a professional manner, whilst providing a personal touch. Whether they’re placed on a website or in printed marketing collateral, business headshots enable consumers to see the faces behind a business. They help foster stronger connections with customers, ultimately facilitating positive relationships for sales. 

Take a look at our handy guide for professional staff portraits to find out what it takes to capture the best headshots. 

Food and drink photography

food and drink photography image by Spencer Cobby Photography for The Flat Restaurant Exeter 

How many times has a delectable food photo persuaded you to visit a restaurant or choose a particular dish from a menu? Commercial food and drink photography is a great example of how well-executed images can help sell a product or service. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and this is particularly true when it comes to food and drink photography. It can be difficult to describe just how tasty a meal is with copy alone. You should be using your photos to show people all the drool-worthy dishes your menu has to offer. High-quality culinary snaps will leave the audience craving more. Plus, a set of professional, consistently-styled, well-lit, realistic food and drink images will convey your business as a reputable establishment with a passion for excellence and commitment to detail. 

We’ve shared some tactics for creating truly mouth-watering food and drink photography over on our blog – why not check them out!  

Commercial architectural photography  

Architectural photography involves photographing a space for commercial purposes. A commercial photographer can provide their services to architects, estate agents and property owners who are looking to promote, sell or let a property. The finished images need to be striking – ready to grab attention in a matter of seconds. However, it’s important that they provide an accurate representation of the space being photographed.   

Think about the window of an estate agency, dominated with photos. Images certainly do the talking here, working as the key tool to generate initial interest. These are photos that not only need to attract potential tenants and buyers by being visually appealing, but must represent properties in a realistic way. Commercial architectural photographers will have the skills and expertise to achieve this delicate balance.  

Our commercial photography services 

Hopefully this has given you a clear idea of what commercial photography is all about. There’s no doubting that it can be an extremely powerful tool for businesses. Strong commercial photography can help represent your business in a clear, imaginative, consistent and professional manner – all the things that potential customers are on the lookout for when making their buying decisions. For some more information on how commercial photography can raise brand awareness, head over to our blog.  

We provide commercial photography services for a diverse range of businesses, from large corporate clients to much smaller start-ups. To find out more about the commercial photography services we offer, and to see some examples of some recent projects, take a look on our website. And if you’ve got any questions about how commercial photography can help your business, please do get in touch

Corporate headshots for Exeter’s Swanky Agency 

Following on from our recently published ‘guide for professional headshots’ (check it out here), we’re taking you behind-the-scenes of a local corporate headshots shoot. We recently had the privilege of working with Exeter’s very own ecommerce experts, Swanky Agency, to capture some professional headshots of their team. Here you can find out about the prep, the shoot and how we worked with the Swanky team to produce the best possible staff portraits for their website. 

The client 

Busy helping both local and global brands to unlock their full digital potential, Swanky Agency are taking the ecommerce world by storm. Since launching in 2010, they have guided countless clients through the increasingly saturated online world, using their expertise to build beautiful websites. As one of the first three agencies in Europe to be awarded the Shopify Plus Expert accreditation, the Swanky team mean business.  

As part of their recent brand evolution, Swanky got in touch with us to produce a collection of corporate headshots for their website. 

The brief: corporate headshots

Swanky wanted simple, high-quality, white-background headshots that would complement the crisp, modern look of their website. At the same time, they wanted to convey the fun and friendly personalities of their team.  

As experts in web design and all things marketing, Swanky are more than familiar with the positive impact that professional staff portraits can have on potential customers. Not only do consistent, high-quality headshots present a professional image of a company, they also provide a personal, friendly touch. They enable consumers to see the faces behind a brand, establishing an emotional connection and facilitating a positive relationship for sales. In other words, the value of quality staff portraits is not to be underestimated. 

The shoot: on location at Swanky HQ 

photo taken by Spencer Cobby Photography of staff team from Swanky Agency

Here at Spencer Cobby Photography, we like to make things as straightforward as possible for our clients. The shoot was organised to take place at Swanky’s Exeter office. Upon arrival, we were given about an hour to set things up: flash equipment, soft boxes, umbrellas and the white paper background. A white background has a fresh, clean appearance – perfect for the style of headshots Swanky were after. This light background also directs the eye of the viewer to the subject of the photo, contrasting with warm skin tones.  

Our camera of choice for this particular shoot was the Nikon D850 with a 50ml standard lens and an 85ml portrait lens. We used Capture One software, a leading program for RAW file image editing. Capturing RAW files allows for a huge variety of editing options. These files have the full range of captured information available from your camera.  

Putting everyone at ease

corporate headshot taken by Spencer Cobby Photography of a staff member at Swanky Agency

For a portrait photoshoot to run as smoothly as possible, it’s always important for staff members to have been given plenty of notice. Ample time to get ready. Luckily the Swanky team were all well-prepared for the shoot, having been given a ‘running order’ well in advance. 

Each staff member’s shoot took around 10-15 minutes. We instructed on positioning and posture, providing tips on how to angle their face and body for the best shot. Some members of staff stood for their photos, whilst others sat on a stool or chair. It is important to try a range of poses, in order to find which positions your subjects feel most comfortable in. The best photos are taken when people are most relaxed, and this was certainly the case with the Swanky photoshoot. When people are relaxed, their smile becomes much more natural-looking. Perfect for showing off someone’s friendly and personable manner. We tried our best to put everyone at ease and engage people in conversation so that they felt comfortable having their photo taken.   

Being flexible

Not all of the Swanky team were available for the shoot, but some time was put aside to fit them in on an ad-hoc basis. We pride ourselves on catering for our clients’ unique needs and schedules, so being flexible is very important.   

It’s also important that our subjects are happy and comfortable with the photos that are taken of them. Each team member was able to select the images they felt were most flattering or representative of them. If people weren’t happy with an image, it was deleted. Again, this helps to put people at ease if they are particularly nervous about having their photo taken and published online.  

Final edits  

After the shoot, a MacBook Pro was used to highlight details in the images. To achieve crisp final portraits, the sharpness and focus of the RAW files was edited. We were particularly keen to accentuate the details of the eyes. People are often drawn to a subject’s eyes before anything else, so it’s essential to make them as bright and detailed as possible. 

Turnaround speed is very important to us when providing clients with a finished product. We always aim to edit and deliver the final images in under one working week. The finished photographs were edited and delivered to Swanky within six days. Moreover, we strive to keep in touch with clients throughout the whole project, providing regular progress updates. In this case, we liaised with Swanky’s secretary, making regular contact to keep her and the team fully informed.   

professional corporate headshot taken by Spencer Cobby Photography of a staff member at Swanky Agency

Overall, the finished shots fulfil the brief provided by Swanky Agency. These corporate headshots give potential consumers an insight into the team behind the Swanky brand. The photos present them as a professional, yet personable group of people who are ready and willing to help. The high level of detail and crisp clarity of each headshot reflects the attention to detail that Swanky are known for in their industry. And the relaxed smiles of each staff member help to engender a feeling of trust between the team and their customers.  

corporate headshot taken by Spencer Cobby Photography of the Creative Director of Swanky Agency

Looking for professional staff portraits?

Spencer Cobby Photography offers individually catered staff portrait packages to suit all kinds of businesses. So if you’re looking for some corporate headshots for your own company, get in touch! We pride ourselves on providing high-quality professional headshots to help represent your business online. The images we create are highly versatile. They can be suited to corporate use, marketing and company websites. They are also a great way to provide employees with suitable images for LinkedIn and social network profiles. To find out more about the business headshot services we offer, visit our website.  

5 Tactics for Creating Mouth Watering Food and Drink Photography

We’ve all been scrolling through Instagram, flicking through the pages of a magazine or perusing a menu online, only to find ourselves practically drooling over a divinely delectable food photo. A well-executed food or drink snap will instantly attract attention and leave viewers craving more, but how do you get that plate of pasta or cosmopolitan cocktail to look utterly drool-worthy? Here are five tactics for creating mouth-watering food and drink photography …

  1. Have these accessories on hand

First of all, you need to be prepared. Make sure your photography bag is fully stocked and your equipment is charged – this may sound obvious, but shooting food and drinks is often a time-sensitive operation. It’s important to be equipped, organised and ready to go. Having these helpful household accessories on hand can save a lot of time…

  • Baby wipes and kitchen towels are perfect for cleaning up spills and crumbs from large surfaces.
  • Cotton buds are essential for getting rid of unwanted food marks on plates and bowls. They reach the places paper towels don’t!
  • Keep little things in place with Blu Tack and double-sided tape, and use pegs to hang larger items like diffuser sheets.
  • Net curtains and white bed sheets make for handy diffusers.
  • A hand mirror is great for bouncing light onto your food and manipulating highlights (white printer paper or silver or gold card can also act as reflectors)
  • To prevent unwanted reflections on shiny surfaces, dulling spray is a must-have.
  1. Diffuse the natural light for that all-important glow

image showing sunlight streaming through a window

With any sort of photography, lighting can make or break your food and drink snaps. Many photographers will argue that lighting is the single most important component in creating mouth-watering food and drink photos. Understanding how light behaves and changes throughout the day will take time, but it can take your photography into the next league.

Using artificial light like your flash can steal the delicate details from your images, taking away the real wow factor you’re looking to achieve.

  • Always use natural light where possible.
  • Shoot during the daytime where you can.
  • Position your food next to a window or open exterior door through which direct sunlight shines – this might mean moving around your house, studio or set to follow the light throughout the day.
  • When it comes to photographing drinks, try to position the glass between your camera and the natural light source – this backlighting will help add depth to the image and accentuate visually interesting elements such as bubbles and condensation.

Effectively diffused natural light can give your image much-needed depth. A good tip to create this winning light is to diffuse the sunlight using old net curtains or thin muslin material. If you find that you need to bounce some natural light onto your food, use a reflector – this will soften the harsh shadows created on one side of your image. Using black card will add more contrast and enhance the shadows. Keep experimenting until you find that perfect combination of highlights and shadows.

image showing a beverage photographed with shadows

In a space devoid of natural light? Fear not! You can create the glow of natural light using an artificial lighting source like a torch or a smartphone light. If you need to soften the light, use a diffuser such as a white napkin.

  1. Try every angle

Have you ever cooked up your pièce de résistance, tried to photograph it for Instagram and found that it just doesn’t translate well in the picture? You need to find that vantage point that makes your image ‘pop’. Make sure you’ve explored every angle before you stop shooting.

Consider photographing from above with your food on the ground so you can stand directly above it. These overhead shots are very on-trend, and great for flat or hidden foods like soup in an opaque bowl.

image showing an example of overhead food and drink photography - a bowl of soup with pumpkin seed and a bay leaf

Alternatively, if your food is constructed in layers, you might want to shoot from eye-level to better convey the composition of the dish. Get up-close-and-personal with your food subject.


  1. Stay simple with the styling

Remember that the food or drink is the main subject of your image, so always go with the motto ‘less is more’ when it comes to styling. 

As a general rule, your food should be plated as if it’s about to be served. If you’re photographing a drink, snap it as it would be presented at a bar: a full glass with garnishes in place. We’d always recommend going with crisp white dishes and clear glasses, especially if you’re new to food photography.

Choose a neutral background that won’t steal attention away from the food or drink. Solid colours are a safe choice. Increasingly, we are seeing a move towards textured backgrounds like wooden tables or marble countertops which also give a nice end-result. Our photoshoot with Hiron Butchers used a wooden board with a dark background and dark accessories. 

A simple trick to add some context to your food and drink photos is to use props. Why not add cutlery, napkins and other dishes that complement the plate of food or glass of drink you’re photographing.

Often, people will show ingredients in their shot – these look great in glass containers or loose on the table or counter. Including the ingredients in the photo composition is particularly savvy if you’re photographing a smoothie or cocktail. It helps convey the flavours of the drink to the viewer and produce a much more appealing image.

image showing an example of food and drink photography with mint and lemons

  1. Edit your shots for the best results

After you’ve experimented with lighting, angles and styling, the final piece of the puzzle is to edit your photos. Editing is where your vision really comes to life. Choose your best image from your camera and have a play around with it in a photo editing programme. To create bright, crisp and utterly moreish photos, you’ll need to consider enhancing the contrast, brightness, vividness and saturation. Make small adjustments at a time until your images pop! Have a look at our final edit from our Chiquitos photoshoot below:

These five top tips should have you well on the way to creating the most delectable-looking food and drink photography. There are lots of simple, inexpensive tactics that will go a long way when it comes to improving your culinary snaps. You don’t need lots of fancy equipment with an eye-watering price tag to create mouth-watering photos.

If you have any food and drink photography tips of your own, share them with us on social media or in the comments below!

To find out more about the photography services we offer, visit our website and check out our social media pages. Get in touch for a free consultation – we’d love to hear from you.

The dos and don’ts of successful lifestyle photography

Lifestyle photography is all about storytelling. It’s about capturing natural, relaxed images that document real-life events or situations. It’s about revealing personalities, relationships and feelings to give the viewer a sense of who your subjects are and how they interact.

There’s a certain art to getting lifestyle photography just right. Finding the balance between directing your subjects and letting events flow organically can be tricky. Different photographers will often have different ideas about where lifestyle photography fits on the scale between documentary photography and portraiture. Most people see it as a mix of authentic and staged – controlling a few variables and then letting the subjects be.

We’ve rounded up a helpful list of dos and don’ts to help make your next lifestyle photography shoot a success …

Do anticipate what’s going to happen

Some moments only last a second – blink and you’ll miss them. It’s important to try and anticipate what’s going to happen in a situation. Don’t wait to take a shot until you see something happening, as it’s likely you’ll miss the magic you wanted to capture. Instead, aim to capture the second before and second after an anticipated moment. The more lifestyle shoots you do, the quicker you’ll get at recognising those special moments that are about to unfold before they even begin.

Do give your subjects something to do

lifestyle photography shot of a little boy running through a sprinkler with a huge smile

If your subjects are engaging in a fun activity, then you are setting the stage for their personalities to shine through in your photos. Give them an activity they enjoy or suggest a game to play and let them create the shots for you. Bear in mind that this activity should be something your subjects would normally do in the environment you’re shooting in. You don’t want to risk the shots looking staged or unnatural.

Do pay attention to the environment

Close-up shots are important to capture details in a lifestyle photography shoot, but don’t forget the larger environment. Step back, look at the wider setting and think about what it tells you about your subjects. The environment will be a key part of your subjects’ lifestyle, so you need to capture all of it to present the full story in your photos. We’d recommend always carrying a wide-angle lens for this reason. 

Do be aware of lighting

With your knowledge of photography, you’ll know which angles, positions and rooms will give you the best lighting for successful lifestyle photos. If your subjects aren’t in the best light, it’s up to you to make it work without disturbing what’s unfolding naturally on the other side of the camera. Whether you have to subtly change your shooting position or quickly grab a reflector, make sure you’re aware of lighting at all times.

Don’t interfere with the environment

Little quirks in the environment – a child’s messy bedroom or washing scattered on the stairs – are not something you or your subjects should try and ‘straighten out’. These things are a natural part of your subjects’ lives. They represent normal everyday life for them, something you’re trying to capture. They can often add real character and authenticity to your lifestyle images.

Don’t bring props

Don’t bring outside props into a lifestyle shoot. Only use things found in the environment you’re in, that are organic to the people in your shots. For instance, if you’re doing a family lifestyle shoot in someone’s home, avoid bringing your own props and instead use the children’s favourite toys. This will help you capture natural emotions and help make your images more true to life.

Don’t ask your subjects to pose or look at the camera

Lifestyle photography is a world away from ‘say-cheese’ portraiture. A key tip to help make your lifestyle photography a success is to never ask your subjects to pose, look or smile at the camera. Asking someone to sit or stand in a certain position or to flash a smile in your direction simply defeats the aim of a lifestyle shoot. You really want to capture people interacting with each other naturally, as if the camera wasn’t even there.

Don’t put the camera down!

lifestyle photography shot of a little boy in a bucket of water throwing a cup of water in the air

The organic nature of lifestyle photography means that you should never put the camera down. Everything presented to you is an opportunity to shoot. You want to be ready to capture those fleeting moments that really capture the essence of your subjects’ personalities. Those raw details that make the most engaging sorts of images. The best lifestyle shots are unplanned, so make sure you’re poised to capture them.

Successful lifestyle photography will portray a vivid snapshot of your subjects, revealing the intricacies of their everyday life. It’s a careful balance between being a fly on the wall in ‘documentary mode’ and directing a staged shoot. Finding the perfect combination is something that will come with time and practice.

To find out more about the photography services we offer, visit our website and check out our social media pages. Get in touch for a free consultation – we’d love to hear from you.

I’m hiring a photographer – what do I need to know about GDPR?

Calling all business owners! Have you got a commercial photography project on the horizon? Are you thinking of hiring a photographer for some professional staff headshots or on-site photography? If so, it’s important that you’re up to speed on the upcoming changes to data protection laws. We never really consider that commercial photographs are classed as personal data, but if a person can be identified from an image, it is classified as data. And wherever data is involved, it needs to be protected. This is where the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into play.

As the nation gears up for these new regulations to come into effect, the information about GDPR on the internet is becoming more and more tricky to unravel. Here we’re taking a look at exactly what you need to know about GDPR if you’re hiring a photographer…

What is GDPR?

Firstly, it’s worth summarising exactly what the regulation means. GDPR sets out the new European framework for data protection, covering how personal data is obtained, processed and stored. The new regulations give individuals more rights over what companies can use their data for, if at all. This new GDPR legislation will have a substantial impact on all businesses once it comes into effect on 25th May 2018.

Photography and personal data

Think of a photographer as a ‘data collector’. When hired by you, they collect personal data for their records, including your name, email address, telephone number and business address. Their data collection doesn’t stop there though. Each photograph they take that features an identifiable person is counted as a piece of personal data. In terms of commercial photography, anything from a staff headshot to a studio-based photo of a model using your product will be classed as data. A commercial photograph destined for your website or brochure can contain arguably the most sensitive of personal information about an individual. Information such as – what ethnic origin they are, what job they do, who they are interacting with, where they are and what they are doing.

As well as capturing and storing your images, many photographers share photos from their jobs online. In such a visual industry, it is essential to be able to showcase a portfolio of clients across a photography website and social channels, with the aim of attracting new clients.

A photographer has a legal responsibility to ensure that they are compliant with GDPR legislation. Simply put, they must prevent your data from getting into the wrong hands and being abused. If an unlawful data breach does occur, they have a duty to report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Informed consent

The securement of informed consent is a crucial part of the new GDPR legislation. According to the ICO, “Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. There must be a positive opt-in – consent cannot be inferred from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity.”

Before your photographer begins a shoot, you should make anyone who could appear in the shots aware of who the photographer is. A clear and specific statement of consent must be provided by the data subjects (the people in the photos). GDPR regulations state that each staff member must proactively opt in to those images being taken, stored and published. Something to consider if you’re having formal corporate photos of your staff taken, or any photos clearly identifying employees. Anyone appearing in photographs should be informed, must have access to the photos, and must be able to have their data corrected or erased. A photographer may ask the data subjects to sign a photography release form which includes a clear indication of how the photos are going to be used.

If, as part of your commercial photography campaign, the photographer takes photos that feature children under 18 years, full written parental consent must be provided.

Genuine choice and control

It is important that the photographer you hire offers data subjects genuine choice about and control over their data. Subjects have the right to ask that their photos remain private. They are not obliged to have their photographs shared online, whether on the photographer’s website or on social media pages. Alternatively, they can request that the photographer only shares photos where they are unidentifiable and to avoid using any names or locations in their web and social copy. Whilst it is often beneficial for photographers to be able to display images online and share them with co-suppliers, GDPR regulations recognise that some clients may benefit from limitations on this sharing.

Ensure that it is made clear how a data subject can access any data the photographer holds about them. It is also important to get confirmation about how a subject can withdraw their consent if they wish. Most photographers will outline this in their privacy policy. You should be able to request in writing that commissioned images be removed from online sources at any future point in time. You need to know that you have the ultimate say in how your images and details are used.

GDPR Compliancy

Hopefully we’ve helped outline what you need to know about GDPR if you’re hiring a commercial photographer. Once you’ve found a photographer whose work you admire, check to see if they have an up-to-date privacy policy on their website. At a basic level, this policy should tell you who they are, what they are going to do with your information, how long they will keep it and who it will be shared with. It should also tell you whether they are GDPR compliant.

To find out more about the new GDPR legislation, you can visit the EU GDPR portal, a resource specifically designed to educate the public about the main elements of this new data protection legislation.

How does commercial photography raise brand awareness?

Whether you’re a new business starting out from scratch, or an established company looking to raise your profile, creating brand awareness will be a key part of your marketing strategy. Not only do more people become mindful of your business when you employ efforts to raise brand awareness, but when your target customer is ready to buy, your brand will be the first to come to mind. Here we’re taking a closer look at how commercial photography can be used to give your business a boost to the next level …

What is commercial photography?

Put simply, commercial photography involves capturing images for commercial use. These images can be featured in adverts, brochures, leaflets, merchandising and menus, to name just a few of their uses. A commercial photographer has the skills to capture all that’s unique about your brand, in order to promote or sell a product or service. They create images that inspire emotions and thoughts, visually supporting text. It is all about creating a rich reserve of cohesive images that give your visual identity consistency and help demonstrate your business’ core values.

Clear visual representation

We’ve all heard the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but in fact, when you consider the science behind visual communication, it seems that a picture could be worth a staggering 60,000 words. We humans are wired to process visual information better and faster than we process text, and we’re much more likely to remember content with images compared to that with just words. Therefore, it goes without saying that a set of engaging, high quality images is vital to help attract and absorb potential customers. Commercial photography gives your brand the visuals it needs to stick in the minds of consumers and really make an impact, thus raising brand awareness.

Stand out from the crowd

example of commercial photography from Spencer Cobby Photography

Commercial photography is an excellent way to get your brand to stand out from the competition, which is essential if your business is in a particularly crowded marketplace. Using stock photographs, which often lack originality or emotion, might mean you struggle to humanise your brand and build a long-lasting connection with your audience. The key is to use unique and original photographs that will resonate with your target market and encourage customer engagement. This consequently helps raise awareness of your business and what you can offer, differentiating your brand from competitors. Many photographers are happy to take the initiative and set the creative direction of the project, offering plenty of unique and imaginative ideas to help enhance your profile.

Plymouth College

Our commercial photography project for Plymouth College’s swimming programme demonstrates how imaginative and unique images can help a brand stand out from the crowd. We produced a series of underwater shots, which bring a sense of fun and excitement, helping the audience to connect with the photos and imagine themselves enjoying the water. These commercial shots are a powerful tool that help inspire emotions, and, when used across different marketing platforms, these memorable images help to differentiate the College’s swimming offering from that of its competitors, thus raising brand awareness.

example of commercial photography from Spencer Cobby Photography

Brand continuity

Another way in which commercial photography can help to raise brand awareness is through providing brand continuity. A set of professional photographs produced in a uniform style with consistent colours really helps a business reinforce its image. These photos can be used across various platforms, on all printed and online materials, tying these different communication channels together and providing a consistent message to customers. In turn, this ensures your business is visible in your industry, and promotes a reliable, professional image of your company. This cohesive branding is particularly important for chain businesses operating across numerous locations.


We can look at IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, as an example of a business whose commercial photography helps to instil a sense of consistency and cohesion. Just a quick look at their website and their Instagram page, and it is clear they are using commercial photos as a powerful marketing tool. The company’s Scandi influences are clearly evident across their image library, presenting a cohesive image of IKEA as a happy, relaxed, contemporary company. Their lifestyle images convey modern, simple, comfy-looking rooms that the consumer can easily imagine themselves in. This theme continues in their album of commercial headshots, which shows their spokespeople in relaxed, informal poses. The consistent style of the photos, whether the content is a product or a person, helps reinforce IKEA’s core values and continually enhance brand awareness.

Building trust and credibility

Good commercial photography is a useful tool for developing a credible reputation and building trust with your audience. Working with a commercial photographer demonstrates your commitment to a professional appearance and helps communicate the value of your products or services to your target customers. Furthermore, by investing in a series of professional commercial photographs for your website, advertising or sales literature, you are portraying your business as a trustworthy outfit which can be relied upon to provide an efficient service.

Firstly, this builds awareness of your brand within the marketplace and enhance your corporate image. And secondly, since people buy from brands they trust, commercial photography can also help increase sales by converting potential buyers into returning customers.

On the other hand, poor quality, amateur imagery can have the reverse effect on a company’s reputation, thus damaging your audience’s perception of you and the products or services you provide.

Miller and Carter

Let’s look at the Miller and Carter Restaurant Group, who we were recently commissioned by to create a series of PR images for their new restaurant in Exeter. We produced a series of commercial images suitable for both print and social content. They portray the new eatery as a respected, dependable establishment where excellent levels of service can be expected. Potential diners will be exposed to these images through various marketing channels and will subconsciously develop an awareness of Miller and Carter as a top eatery.

example of commercial photography from Spencer Cobby Photography of Miller and Carter restaurant

We hope this has highlighted the benefits that commercial photography can bring in terms of raising brand awareness. It is a powerful tool that can help represent your business in a clear, imaginative, consistent and professional manner – all the things that potential customers are looking for. To find out more about the photography services we offer, take a look on our website here. And if you’ve got any questions about how photography can help your business, feel free to contact us – we’d love to share our creative vision and passion for photography with you.

Exeter Website Photography: First Care Ambulance

Recently I was asked to create some website photography for Devon-based company, First Care Ambulance. With a great brief from the client and some extensive research on my part we shot on location in Exeter to produce some quality website photography that reflected the organisation’s passion for community healthcare.

The client: First Care Ambulance

First Care Ambulance is a leading medical transport provider, based in the South West of England. Their team of health professionals work closely with local hospitals and NHS providers to provide non-emergency patient transport that integrates with the local healthcare community. As well as patient transport, their services include organ transport, event medical services, and first aid training.

First Care Ambulance has been operating for over 20 years, but recently the organisation underwent rapid expansion. In the last 2 years they grew from operating 7 ambulances to operating with a fleet of over 70 ambulances and specialist medical vehicles.

With their range of new ambulances and staff, as well as new contracts and additional services on offer, First Care Ambulance was unrecognisable. Their old website did not reflect the full range of equipment and services the organisation offered. Nor did it provide anaccurate reflection of First Care Ambulance’s commitment to professionalism and high quality service.

They worked with web design company, Swanky Apple to build their ideas into a fully-fledged website that accurately portrays First Care Ambulance’s vision and values.

And that’s where I come in…

The Brief: Website photography

First Care Ambulance needed some fresh website photography for their new website. With such a large website and so many services on offer they needed a lot of images to build-out a visual picture of their flourishing company. Rather than purchasing a cartload of stock library images, they decided to produce their own.

They got in touch with me, Spencer Cobby Commercial Photography, to create a 360-degree, styled photographic audit of all the vehicles and services that they offer.

I sat down with Andrew Pooley of First Care Ambulance and we talked through the brief. Rather than hiring professional models, Andrew wanted the images to feature his own staff. After all, they already know how to operate the ambulance equipment and they’re the individuals who patrons of First Care Ambulance services will encounter.

Andrew wanted the website photography to convey real personalities, to communicate the warmth and depth of caring that his staff have for their patrons. Essentially, the images would present the real faces of First Care Ambulance. At the same time, the website photography needed to showcase the equipment and services available as well as to demonstrate the organisation’s extensive experience and professionalism in this specialist industry.


With a good knowledge of the client’s priorities and vision, I approached this expansive brief with a lot of research. Non-emergency patient transport is a niche industry with very precise specialisms so I wanted to gain a greater understanding of how the industry presents itself.

I took a look at current stock images available on Getty Images and ran a Google image search for the following keyword terms:

  • – Ambulance service
  • – Ambulance
  • – Paramedic
  • – Rescue Services Occupation
  • – NHS
  • – Service
  • – Healthcare And Medicine
  • – Urgency

I took a selection of images that encapsulated some of the values and priorities that First Care Ambulance represents. I then analysed these images to establish exactly what it was about them that communicated the messages First Care Ambulance wanted to convey. Here are a few examples:

1. Friendly – this shot uses the smiling female face of an ambulance driver to tell the story of a warm and welcoming company and staff.

2.Experienced – this image tell the story of years of quality and dedicated service 

3. Professional – this shot tells the story of preparation and diligence with a qualified staff who know what they’re doing

Ambulance - Care

4. Care – This image makes it personal. The nurse holding the hand of a smiling patient tells a story of a supportive and caring service

Armed with this research, I started to formulate a plan of how we were going to create First Care Ambulance’s website photography at their base in Exeter. Alongside this, Andrew gave me a specific plan to work to that archived which images were required for each part of the website.

Shooting the website photography in Exeter and Devon



With such a large website and so many images to capture, I made a plan to approach the project in two stages, based on location:

  • Stage One – Capture archive website photography at First Care Ambulance’s head office in Exeter
  • Stage Two – Capture archive website photography of staff working on location in Devon

The best way to capture the every-day operations of service-based companies, like First Care Ambulance, is to photograph key elements (the person,the location, the activities etc.) and then to ask the subjects to conduct their normal tasks whilst shooting around the subject. That’s how I captured the image below.

I asked two ambulance staff to assist a gentleman on to one of their ambulances using his electric wheelchair. Whilst these images were partly staged, this method enabled the staff to conduct themselves as they normally would at work. I just threw in the occasional suggestion to move left or right or to look up or down. This approach provides a real sense of authenticity that is absolutely necessary when photographing a sensitive subject like helping an elderly man onto an ambulance.

I photographed the scenario a number of times in order to get different angles, lighting and expressions on the faces of the staff. This approach means I shoot more, but it also means there is a greater variety of images. When it comes to editing (and ultimately publishing the photographs to the website), the wealth of options when it comes to space, scale, and depth within the images is very useful. It also means the client has more images to choose from, particularly if they plan to use them elsewhere on brochures, flyers or other media.

The following images are examples of this process:

Frist Care Ambulance 1 - Spencer Cobby Commercial Photography

Here is how the website looks like with the images added.

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