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Commercial photography is a broad term encompassing a wide range of corporate, public relations, advertising and product work. However, product photography is perhaps more easily defined and therefore often addressed as a separate but related field of endeavour.

Although photographers involved in commercial photography may have degrees or other widely-recognized qualifications, many people also attend training courses tailored specifically for their requirements. Typical courses address lighting (particularly back-lighting and rim-lighting), high-key and low-key effects, composition, backgrounds, special effects, and multiple exposures and multiple flash effects. The ultimate objective is to enable photographers to take photographs in which the subject almost jumps off the page into the hands of potential buyers.

Foundation degrees in commercial photography are offered by a number of universities and academic institutions. Courses may have a duration of up to three years, and are designed to equip students with essential technical and critical skills, and the ability to think independently and creatively in professional working life. Studio, camera, digital, promotion and professional skills are all covered.

As courses progress, students are increasingly encouraged to make their own decisions. They produce and work briefs appropriate to a particular area of industry, and are encouraged to develop personal projects. A portfolio of work from a final project is ultimately presented to an assessment panel as it would be to a potential client.

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