An Advertising photographer in NYC lives and works at the epicenter of the modern marketing industry. New York City — in particular, the borough of Manhattan — is the birthplace of modern advertising and the home of Madison Avenue. In 1935 the Photographers Association of America declared buyers “believe what the camera tells them because they know nothing tells the truth so well.” Some ninety years later, we wonder if we are seeing real or computer-generated images across the internet. At times, it’s even difficult to determine what’s an ad and what’s someone’s personal content.
Nevertheless, Advertising photography has never been more important and central to our daily lives. Global spending on advertising never slows and is currently around $674 billion annually. Estimates are that we are exposed to about 400 advertisements a day, of which we are only aware of about 100. Advertising, it seems, has never been more integrated into our daily lives.
At Wonderful Machine, we define Advertising photography as photography used to sell a product or service. Advertising photography usually appears in some sort of paid media, like billboards, bus shelters, newspapers, magazines, or website banner ads. This article gathers seven of the best living and working day in and day out in the hustle of the city that never sleeps.
Andrew Zaeh is a rare breed of NYC Advertising photographer who has also worked on the client side of the photography industry. Before becoming a freelance commercial photographer, he oversaw visual branding for artists like Jay-Z, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monaé. Since his career took off he has been producing high-quality commercial imagery with an eye towards urban youth culture. Andrew utilizes diverse lighting and filter techniques both outdoors and in the studio to produce imagery that is edgy and intimate. His commercial advertising campaigns for brands like American Express, AT&T, and Johnson & Johnson reflect the range of styles he can achieve.
NYC Advertising photographer Michael Marquand creates sharp and efficient commercial imagery. His portfolio emphasizes vibrant colors and dynamic shadows. Commercial campaigns for companies like Coca-Cola, St. Ives, and Pure Leaf, for example, demonstrate Michael’s ability to produce imagery that is driven by the composition of color and light. High-angle perspectives efficiently frame products, while careful use of hard light draws out contrasts and depth of field that accentuates their presence within the image.
Paul Quitoriano is a Northern California native who has made a home in New York City. He focuses primarily on still life and portraiture photography. His background in photojournalism has guided his extensive editorial work with major publications like the New York Times, GQ, and Vice. Paul is also an NYC Advertising photographer with a diverse commercial portfolio that demonstrates precise technical ability and a keen eye for style. He is equally adept at working with the natural light of the city street, park, or cafe, as he is with the controlled fill and butterfly lights of a studio. He creates imagery that is emotive and sharp, crisp and eye-catching, and rich with detail.
Benjamin Norman is the only photographer on this list who has shot over 700 assignments for the New York Times. He is a commercial and editorial photographer who has dedicated much of his career to photojournalism, and, in addition to freelancing, is also an adjunct professor of Photojournalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Benjamin has led shoots for dozens of commercial clients and non-profits. He expertly crafts images that go to the heart of his client’s ethos. Portraiture is a cornerstone of Benjamin’s work, and his commercial work reflects his ability to capture personality on film. His work is grounded in a human-centered approach. When Benjamin isn’t busy shooting, he’s mentoring underserved NYC teenagers in photography with the non-profit NYC SALT.
With a photography career spanning over twenty years, Mo Dauod is internationally recognized for his trademark “polished rawness.” In the nineties, his intimate portraiture and editorial work garnered praise and attention, as a result of which he extensively documented the urban hip-hop music and cultural scene. These origins also guide the aesthetics of Mo’s advertising portfolio. His campaigns for Nike, for example, capture the dynamics of urban life and style.
Aaron Kyle Barton is an Advertising photographer in NYC who shoots dynamic and clean studio imagery. His shoots for commercial advertising campaigns give context and flair to each client’s products. Playful studio backdrops with careful arrangements of accessories and products, along with sharp fill light create images with the quintessential “pop.” Aaron shoots product/still life, food, and lifestyle imagery and works regularly with clients on commercial campaigns in New York City and across the country. He has created advertising imagery for beauty products, outdoor goods, as well as food and beverage brands.
NYC Advertising photographer Yachin Parham brings his ebullient and personable character to all his photoshoots. Whether he’s in Spain, Bahrain, or the American Midwest, the human side is always present in his portrait-focused commercial imagery. Yachin works at the intersection of light and personality, crafting imagery that blends the two into a humanistic composition. He allows the frame of a lens to become a space for subjects to express themselves. As a result, the commercial advertising imagery he has created for brands like Dell, Lenovo, and Red Bull all have a recognizably relatable quality. Yachin recently won the Cannes Gold Award for his project “Erase the Line” about racial inequality in breast cancer health care.
Advertising photography can seem like a broad catch-all category. Some reflection, however, reminds us that crafting compelling advertising imagery is a laborious and nuanced craft. Each NYC advertising photographer reviewed in this article has demonstrated their ability to craft consistent high-quality imagery.