Definitions: Commercial, Fashion, Retail & Editorial

We are inspired by all our recent photo shoots and upcoming photo shoots– so much that we want to begin a discussion about different types of photography in the fashion world.

For some of you, this may be super basic and obvious. But for those of you who are in the dark, we hope that these definitions are helpful!

Commercial photography sells a product. In other words, the focus of the photo shoot will be on that product rather than creating a mood or story.  It also means that the everything about the way the shoot is set up will be about the product– from staging it to look a certain way, styling, lighting to set and props or lack there of. It might be more plain, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just about the product.


Fashion Photography Contrary to commercial photography, the emphasis in fashion photography is less about garments and more of selling a mood and styling of the image of the brand, line or theme– selling a particular look.  The garments are merely an accessory to convey a certain lifestyle or theme. In these cases, the whole image is much more complex because it conveys so much more than the garment.  In these images, you usually won’t see plain white or off-white backgrounds as you would in retail photography. As well,  in fashion photography the models are usually styled more dramatically (eg. thick  eye liner, dramatic eye shadow, etc). The complexity in styling increases he complexity in lighting to make the image look more dramatic.


Retail Photography is under the umbrella of fashion photography. It is very similar to commercial photography, especially in our case. A lot of our photo shoots would fall under this category, particularly the photo shoots that we produce ourselves. You’ll notice that  a significant amount of the images of our garments have the models standing (with very natural looking make-up)  in front of a white or an off-white background. Often the lighting for these shoots are minimal– maybe natural light or one light above camera and slightly to either side of the camera. Often makeup and hair for the models in these shoots are very natural. Sometimes you don’t even see the whole body! It’s about the details of the garment so that the consumer can make an informed decision.


Editorial Photography is also under the umbrella of fashion photography. Editorial photography is usually not about selling a product but something greater. As previously mentioned, in fashion photography it’s the lifestyle that the image is selling where as in editorial photography it’s the story or the theme. As is the case with fashion photography,  lighting is a huge consideration and extremely important. The lighting helps create a mood. For example, on an editorial shoot with a 50’s theme, all the clothing would be pulled from several artists,  designers, various collections and it would all be paired together to complete the theme of the shoot.

The quick summary:

Commercial Photography sells a product.

Retail Photography sells a garment or accessory.

Fashion Photography sells a brand or lifestyle.

Editorial Photography sells a theme story.


3 thoughts on “Definitions: Commercial, Fashion, Retail & Editorial

  1. I had a blog on this sbeujct, but I got so much spam I had to shut it. You appear to be doing a better job keeping out the spammers! Congratulations!

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