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How to Photograph Logos and Billboards

Updated on September 24, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. | Source

Like I have mentioned several times before, anything can be turned into a photography project and anything worth photographing probably has.

Ideas abound, one just has to be open minded and look at things from a photographer's perspective. In other words, see the possibility of a photograph where none appears to be.

Companies spend millions of dollars in developing creative images and logos that will help their product remain in the consumer's mind. What comes to mind when you see an image of a bull that happens to be red? Or a cowboy with a cigarette?

A project that is easy to pursue and can lead to sales, is to photograph logos as well as billboards. The concept is to portray these logos and images in a positive light. Note: all logos are copyrighted, so selling them to third parties requires the permission from the owner.

Marketing these photographs to the respective companies seems odd, but believe it or not, most will buy them from you if the photograph is appealing and shows the logo in a positive manner.

Others will not buy them but will use them in their PR and marketing campaigns, thus increasing your reputation by giving you the proper creative credit. Use humor when you can, since this makes the brand stand out and remain in the spotlight longer. Many of the logo owners, will grant you limited permission to use it depending on your intentions.

If your intentions are for posting the images in a publication, they will like to know if the article will be critical of them or not as well as in which publication they will be printed. If you intend to use them as works of art, and many are, they will probably grant you full permission, since all it does is elevate their brand in the consumers' eyes.

When you take the shots, do so in close ups to show detail and make it easy for consumers to recognize the brand, but something else, like parts of the background must also be included if they add to the shot.

The best shots are those in which the brand is clearly identifiable by its logo and it's seen being used by consumers, such as people enjoying a cold refreshing bud ( beer, just in case you misunderstood). Or a consumer shining the logo on his brand new car.

Two main lenses are required for this type of work; a regular 50mm and a telephoto. The longer lens will be used to capture images on billboards. Billboard shots work well if the photo also shows a high visibility factor, such as cars passing by it on the freeway. A great shot, which I have seen before, is one that portraits a person drinking a Coke next to a Coke add.

Why do companies buy these shots? Because they are unplanned and work very well in public relations campaigns. Companies place more weight on word of mouth advertisement that on the actual advertisement campaigns themselves. This type of photography can also lead to a job as a product photographer. Once you begin to be known and to sell your images, as your reputation grows so does the demand for your services.

This genre in photography requires attention to detail and a knowledge of how lights affects the shot. Keep in mind that you are trying to show a two dimensional product through a two dimensional medium, so making the logos look good takes some practice.

Most product photographers, in which this genre fits, are specialists in doing just so. They're creative and take images that showcase a product in various angles, lighting conditions and in unusual views which encompass the product/logo.

You are not really trying to include words or the entire product itself, that would just be a regular product photograph, your intention is to alienate the logo by itself and create an image.

Car logos are great, so are logos for drinks. Do not overlook incidental images; those images that clearly show a logo within a much larger shot, say the shot of downtown in which you can clearly see a billboard add for a particular product.

Some of these images may not end up being sold, but they can add to your portfolio and distinguish you as a product photographer. Images that are used in portfolios do not require written permission to be photographed/used since their use is to showcase, in this case, your talent.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Logo photography does not have to be limited to company products, there are many organizations that use them too, as so do political parties, fraternity houses, restaurants, sports clubs, churches etc.

You can start by approaching small organizations and non-profits and offering do some shots of their logos. Most of this type of work will be gratuitous, since most of these companies and organizations probably won't have an adjective for you.

But you can start building your professional portfolio in this fashion and hone your skills and abilities. You can start examining what types of shots work well and which do not as well as trying out new ideas. | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Luis, thanks for this. That photo is soooo cool and your projects make me think of so many different angles.