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Beyond The Streets & Into The Boardroom: Where Street and Commercial Photography Come Together

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Street photography and commercial photography may seem like two very different fields, but Tim Butler-Jones seems to think that the skills a street photographer develops can be directly translated to the commercial photography industry.

Auckland Street photography by Tim Butler-Jones for Studio-4 Photography

Street photography is an art that involves capturing candid moments in public spaces. It requires a certain set of skills, such as the ability to quickly and confidently frame a shot, anticipate movement and emotion, and use available light to create mood and atmosphere. These skills are highly transferable to commercial photography, and many successful commercial photographers have a background in street photography. In this article, we will explore the ways in which street photography skills translate to the commercial level and why a good street photographer is often a good commercial photographer.


Firstly, street photographers are adept at capturing real moments and genuine emotions. They have a keen eye for human behavior and can anticipate when a moment is about to happen. This is an important skill in commercial photography, where authenticity is increasingly important. Consumers are becoming more skeptical of posed and staged images and are looking for images that feel authentic and real. A good street photographer can bring this authenticity to commercial shoots, whether it’s capturing a genuine moment between co-workers or a real smile from a model.

Auckland Street photography by Tim Butler-Jones for Studio-4 Photography

In addition to authenticity, street photographers are also skilled at creating mood and atmosphere in their images. They often use available light to create interesting shadows and contrasts, which can add drama and depth to a photograph. This is a useful skill in commercial photography, where lighting can make or break an image. A good commercial photographer knows how to use light to create mood and atmosphere, whether it’s a bright and cheerful image for a marketing campaign or a moody and dramatic image for a fashion shoot.


Another skill that street photographers bring to commercial photography is the ability to work quickly and adapt to changing situations. Street photographers often have to work fast to capture a moment before it’s gone, and they are used to working in unpredictable environments. This is a valuable skill in commercial photography, where shoots can often be fast-paced and unpredictable. A good commercial photographer can adapt to changing circumstances and still produce high-quality images, even under pressure.

New Zealand Street photography Downtown Auckland

Street photographers also have a strong sense of composition, which is a key element of good photography. They know how to frame a shot to create visual interest and draw the viewer’s eye to the most important parts of the image. This is an important skill in commercial photography, where images need to be visually appealing and communicate a clear message. A good commercial photographer knows how to use composition to create a powerful image that effectively communicates for the client.


Finally, street photographers are often skilled at post-processing their images. They know how to edit their images to enhance the mood and atmosphere, or to correct any technical issues that may have occurred during the shoot. This is an important skill in commercial photography, where images often need to be retouched or edited to meet the client’s specific requirements. A good commercial photographer knows how to use post-processing tools to enhance the image and ensure that it meets the client’s needs.


Street photography in Auckland New Zealand by Tim Butler-Jones for Studio-4 Photography

In summary, the skills that street photographers bring to the table are highly transferable to the commercial level. They are adept at capturing real moments and emotions, creating mood and atmosphere, working quickly and adapting to changing situations, using strong composition, and post-processing their images to enhance their visual impact. These skills are highly valued in the world of commercial photography, where authenticity, mood, and composition are key elements of a successful image.


In addition to these technical skills, street photographers often bring a unique perspective and approach to their work. They are used to working in public spaces, where they are constantly interacting with people and observing the world around them. This gives them a unique perspective that can be valuable in commercial photography, where clients are often looking for fresh and innovative ideas. A good commercial photographer can bring this unique perspective to their work, and use it to create images that stand out and make a lasting impression.


In conclusion, a good street photographer is often a good commercial photographer because they bring a unique set of skills, including the ability to capture real moments and emotions, create mood and atmosphere, work quickly and adapt to changing situations, use strong composition, and post-process their images effectively. Additionally, their unique perspective and approach to their work can lead to fresh and innovative ideas that can make a lasting impression on clients and viewers. By combining these skills and qualities, a good street photographer can easily transition to the world of commercial photography and excel in creating images that meet the needs and expectations of their clients.


Street photography by Tim Butler-Jones for Studio-4 Photography



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