Good photography is a key part of your branding and can really make or break your social media presence. But, with so many different elements of photography and aesthetics floating around the internet, we thought we would break down the difference between social media photography and campaign / advertising photography and give you some tips and tricks to make a difference in your set up.


Although both advertising and social media have the same intentions, the way you photograph your subjects can be vastly different. Social media photography aims to bring the viewer into the picture through lifestyle imagery, while advertising imagery is straight-to-the-point and usually in a studio-style set up.

Take these images from Roll’d for their influencer and advertising campaign –

First image via @amys.appetite.

Second image via @thesphereagency.

As you can see from the first image – it’s more focused on lifestyle and ‘at home’ imagery, asking the viewer to order in and enjoy at home, while the advertisement if more factual, sticking to a specific colour scheme, with the intent to make the viewer crave Roll’d, as well as promote their new product.

Both of these have the same intent (to entice the viewer), but have different outcomes as well as photography styles – why? Let’s dig deeper.

Commercial Photography

Not only is commercial (or advertising) photography used to promote a product or service on billboards, advertising, commercial website, film and television and books; it also aims to sell the product to the consumer in an immediate way – capturing their attention. It lends context to a story, but also has the same intent as editorial. Commercial photography usually follows a strict colour scheme and mood board, generally with an overlay of text and simple messaging to capture the reader’s attention in one go. Commercial photography is usually shot in-studio with artificial lighting and professional camera set-ups.

Social Media Photography

Photography for social media can lend itself to be more playful and lifestyle orientated – after all, there are many facets of social media where a consumer could view this image – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. Many social media makers shoot with their iPhone, but over recent years, it is more common to hire a social media photographer with a professional set up, or to invest in your own kit if you are serious about upping your socials. These can be shot in home-studios with lighting, or at a venue. Bold colours are a good choice for social media photographers, as you want to evoke emotions and feeling with a product.

The other big difference is platform and the effect on the consumer.

While commercial photography aims to capture an individual on a billboard, advertisement or sign – you need to engage the viewer straight away, and without hesitation. By having clean, easy to process photography, you are able to get the message across to the viewer more effectively.

Social media, however, can be used a number of ways – usually due to the already attracted audience that follows you. You need to sell or promote something through this photography – after all, they follow you for a reason! This way of photography is more easily shared throughout platforms through likes and shares and is memorable in its own way.

So, long story short, both photography styles are great in their own way, but if you want to boost your social media presence, an easy way to begin is starting with your visuals.

What are some other major differences in social media and commercial photography? Let us know in the comments!