Often, it’s the photography that will make or break a website, brochure, flyer, or any other type of visual advertisement. Bad photography sticks out like a sore thumb and can seriously discredit the professionalism of a brand or business. If the photos in an advertisement look like they were taken with your grandpa’s flip phone, the ad itself is probably doing the exact opposite of what it’s intended to do (and that is drive customers through the door).

So what exactly distinguishes a good photograph from a bad one? Don’t worry, this isn’t a senior-level photography course, but we did throw together some basic guidelines for sound commercial photography.


Focus is, well…the focal point of the picture. The focus of a photograph lies wherever the image is most clear and sharply defined. Elements of a photograph that are not in focus appear more blurry and demand less attention. Focus dictates where the viewer’s eyes go, and if everything (or nothing) is in focus, everything in the photograph has equal weight. Generally, the idea is to place the focus on a single item or person to draw attention to him/her/it.


Lighting is arguably the most important factor in good photography. The source, direction, angle, and degree of light determines the mood or tone of a photo. Manipulating the lighting in a photograph can not only convince the viewer of certain emotions or feelings, it can effectively highlight the subject’s best features. For example, action shots often appear more dynamic when the light source appears to be coming from the back of the photo, not the front. Multiple sources of light should be used when shooting stationary items, like food or furniture.


In most beginner photography classes, one of the very first things you’ll learn is “the rule of thirds.” This rule says that the important elements of a photo should be composed along imaginary lines that divide the image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally.

Rule of thirds

This technique is used to make photos appear more interesting, natural, and dynamic, but the rule is not exhaustive. The rule of thirds is especially effective in landscape-style photos, but can be broken in certain situations.

White Balance 

White balance is the factor responsible for photographs that appear to have a yellowish tinge. White balance has to do with incandescent or fluorescent lighting versus natural lighting. Our eyes are able to distinguish certain colors in any lighting, which is why a golf ball appears white both indoors and out. But cameras are not able to do this as easily. A camera’s white balance setting is used to essentially tell the camera what is white and what is not. Good photographs utilize proper white balance to ensure colors hues appear as intense in photographs as they do in reality.


Good photography requires much more than a few snaps with a fancy camera. Like they say, a picture speaks a thousand words, and when it comes to your business, a thousand words may mean thousands of dollars. For professional commercial photography services, contact your marketing superheroes at Transformation!


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