Skip to main content

Shooting for Licensing

Lesson 11 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

Shooting for Licensing

Lesson 11 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

11. Shooting for Licensing

Lesson Info

Shooting for Licensing

This morning, we're going to start off learning a little bit more about shooting for licensing and publishing its I've been doing this for many years now I'm very, very fortunate that I have actually being able to move into the publishing industry by being discovered, so I've never had to actually hand for it. S o I have actually been in a very fortunate position, too, for this to happen to me and there's this mentioned yesterday, it started at a very early stage of my career, pretty much the first month of me actually thinking of going out by myself. My image won a competition, and it was seen by a publisher and pretty much I was away from there. So what happened for me? As I was then commissioned by a publisher to create a series of animal images based on this one pig image I had created? And so over the years, it's all developed and it's just my style has evolved a little bit over the time, but it has for the licensing and his pretty much stayed on on a similar someone trained in re...

gards to capturing just character, simple character and motive, images of animals and but it's just recently, in the last five years where I've been working on animals more on location so I'm actually about to start doing more licensing with my french can range the french dog and now the new york dog, which is really exciting it's going to be fantastic to see those images out there in the public, on greeting cards and calendars and jigsaw puzzles and this and a huge array of products which you can do with your with your images and actually just here with the general public and there's nothing nicer than seeing a smart putting me out, putting a smile on people's faces with your image is it's great? So moving on when you're shooting for licensing it's really important to have something which is going to buy catching something? What she's going to appeal to the general public have had the commercial appeal so you can never go wrong with cute as we discovered us. No way we photographed some very, very cute images when you've got puppies and kittens that always works but it's possible when working with animals to create a create images which are a really adorable of the adult dogs as well. People are going to relate to more than just puppies and kittens, and azad worked through through the years this bean away from everything from frogs and goldfish lions, tigers, chimpanzees, you name it and I've got I've worked with them all, so which is fantastic, but is this I am going down, and we've got commercial appeal as well. It's very, very important toe have something which is you need to research your markets, see what? What market you're going to be targeting, and then make sure that you're creating images which is gonna be suited for the people you're targeting. Humor always sells. I felt like I forgot. I remember photographing a kit call guinness once, and I had a nice idea. I wanted to do like a tea cozy on his head. So I had this really cute girl had made. And I had to have the cat train because cats do not like him in the eyes covered that's. Not something I normally do, but guinness was such a really cruzi laidback. Cagney only only literally head a little bit of action happening out there. Head someone's obviously come in which the dogs are unhappy with. But anyway, guinness, we trained him and he literally had the to create the images image. I just wanted this really cute, like a cat in the hat because that was my inspiration behind it. But anyway, can has had a green hit over it pulled down over his face, and it was a gorgeous image, and it sold incredibly well because because it had that hint of humor but he had the head on this he'd probably for not even thirty seconds it was listen, that was a really, really quick I did I'd talk to you today about working on my four by five camera this particular image I didn't do on my four by five camera I worked on the hessel bled square film it to create this image purely because I knew that I had to be really quick because the cat was not going to be ableto head the head on for very long so I didn't have time to sort of play with the focus and make sure the animals interacting with me he couldn't interact with me that well when he's gonna hit covering his eyes so head to head to be quick with it now also if you're going to be publishing your images especially on licensing products where you're making money from your images, you need to make sure that you very, very clear to your clients you need thio make sure they are happy to sign a model release which signs all copyright over to you they are aware that the image is what you are going to be publishing is going to be out in the general public for people to buy andi also need to make sure that you have have full rights too to using the image he not going to request teo actually see the image it's impossible if you've got hundreds of images out there someone sees well can you make sure you run the design past me or can I get a royalty off it as well? It's not possible it's working on this we as thie at us we are the probably the people who get the least amount out of this out of out of the financial benefits off than anybody. So therefore if if I started paying royalties total the people who I photographed it's just I there's no way that I could even make a living out of it it's what do you what do you have to be realistic but you have to be very, very clear and make sure you have full rights to those images before you do anything licensing agents it is really, really important tio when you get when you get more established not right in the beginning you can always go to trade fears and things yourself and try and promote yourself take your portfolio around tow ran around two people to get your images seen. But having a licensing agent was great because they have the context in the industry so therefore and they're going to take your images to the big trade fears this trade fears all around the world you've got london, new york, frankfurt and germany has an enormous book fear every year and twice a year actually I think a lot of the fields go on for a couple of times a year but if you just eat all of these you can google that's all you'll find plenty of information on trade fears and things and there's nothing stopping you from going to a trade fear with your portfolio and on the spot trying to make an appointment with some licensing companies so people you want to approach people who do greeting cards, calendars that sort of thing has hundreds of the mountain li I do have to warn you it is think it's such a huge industry that millions of people licensing and publishing the books and the images out there so it is an incredibly competitive market so don't be disheartened if you get it takes more nose and then you do it yes you just gotta be patient and just keep trying don't don't give up hope keep positive if you've been leaving yourself in, something will happen you just gotta be positive and just really believed that your images we got something in it if this is really this is this is the path you want to go down before signing any deals with anybody though do make sure that you get legal advice there's lawyers out there who specialize in intellectual property rights and those are the lawyers to go to and just go make sure the contracts very clear you know you're not signing away, your copyright is the most important thing and just make sure that there's no little little things in the contract, which you a little bit unsure of and you know what, make it get the lawyers to make adjustments and just just seriously do involve legal opinion and advice before signing anything it's always good also to have it absolute here, a hundred images before we don't have to have one hundred images, any collection before approaching anybody, but it is always really good to have a good collection of images because you might say you've got a hundred images and my only choose twenty of those to put out a greeting card, even maybe five go out first on a greeting card range or something, but you need to make sure that you've got plenty there for them to choose from because you might think the your hand one hundred them a fantastic but everyone has their own individual opinion end preference on the images, so therefore they're not always going to choose the ones which you think is going to be perfect, which is really frustrating sometimes I've had this happen so much, I get really emotionally attached to my images. And it's it's nothing more frustrating than you got well but what about this image? Don't you want this fun? But yeah, but disorders can be really frustrating to try not to get to decide and if they don't choose what your favorites are but it's all fun it's all fun and games and then once you if you're lucky enough to get established with with some licensing agencies and things or companies who actually want to publish your greeting cards or calendars and things you got to keep up with the image creation you can't just have your hundred images and think oh yeah that's may see it now those hundred images probably enough to last a year so you need to keep feeding your range of images so therefore you've got if you're doing a calendar every year with somebody you've got to create probably another you can't just create twelve images you've got to give them selection to choose from, so you've gotta have b continuously creating images so you've got plenty for the people, the truth from its also I have to say it's when you get to like when I was working for the rachel hail brand it's huge pressure like I've got we ended up having hundreds of licensees around the world who were relying on me one person to come up with these images to andi it is it's a huge pressure it's actually and it sometimes it became too much you could become overwhelmed with the fact that you've got everyone's relying on you to come up with the images, what you gonna sell and make them money on dit actually is it can be so just really think about what you're doing before you go into these sort of things as well to make sure this is actually a an area of photographer you want to get off commitment you want to go to go through because once you've committed in an actual contract with somebody, you've got to keep it up because there is the risks of being sued, that sort of thing if you cannot fit, we'll meet the requirements of what they expect of you two actually supply the images so it is a big decision to do, but it is fun I've had an incredible journey with what I've been doing and it is it's it's an amazing thing but just make sure it is what you want also with the ranges of images it's really good to have a recognized style so that if somebody really likes your image they're going to go back and they're gonna keep looking for that type of car and develop maybe you know you said you really have to have a registered trademark such as we did with the rachel hail brand, but it was fun to have a brand like jamie you've got the motley zoo that's a fantastic fantastic brand yeah and it's I love your logo it's really eye catching it it's it it works really, really well so don't creating calendars with motley zoo would be perfect I'm not sure if you actually just already do that sort of thing. Yeah, yeah, but I think I think you have a fantastic it would be a really great way to raise money for figure organization as well because I like you blew me away when you said that you had nine hundred animals that's a huge commitment it's like uh it's yeah hey let's make a motley do calendar and get people buying it so that we can you get money for this organization because it is amazing I was blown away when I was hearing you talk this morning about what you do for animals good on you I think it's great. So talking about recognized stiles I've as we all know I do animal photography so with the animals it's a very I have a very distinctive style. I've worked with shallow depth of field muted beautiful color tones after the emotion in the character within my images. So when I put a range of images together they do stand out as a range so they're not that it's not disjointed so you could actually put a label on these images is as a brand and that works the same with with my baby images like they're very ahead I've got a range out there called called baby love, which is very much exactly so much my animal images accepted contains babies as opposed to toe animals so full of emotion character simple, muted tones and it works really really well is a range of images then of course what the from the babies I moved on to doing babies with animals as well, which we call best friends for either so I have got a range of images out there called be if if that's what's abbreviated down to big ear fifth as best friends forever, which is hate to fund work on absolutely lovely I love I've always loved babies and in animals and it's years of working with the two of them together was fantastic and this is something which I loved teo encourage people to do when I'm doing my private commissions is that she too have family photographs but involved the animals the animals are so much part of the family so it's really important do that beginning I'm going off trick they're getting back onto having a range of images this is definitely sits is arrange as well the style was very similar throughout then we head of course my french cannon, the french dog which is very, very different from my studio images but it still has a very distinctive style about it I've got I'm still when I'm working on location with my animals, I'm trying to capture still simple, eye catching images, which still the animal is probably trying to be the trying to be the main focus with them things often the animals are quite small within the image, but I've got to try and capture these that's even more challenging because I'm always after the soul of an animal. But in these situations I'm after the sold off the environment as well as the animal, so it sort of like trying to mirror together two uniforms subjects and actually making it work within within an image. But I think I have managed to create a range of images which really do have a really distinctive style and then the new york dog, which is which is a much more urban, more funky feel to it, but it still has a very, very distinctive style in the fact that it's still about the dogs, but it's got just just got a little bit more funk, I think, yeah, I loved I loved working in new york, it was so much fun.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Black on Black
Photographing Kitten and Puppies
Shooting for Licensing and Publishing
Working with Adult Cats
Working with More Challenging Animals
Shooting on Location - The French Cat - The French Dog
Taking an Idea and Working Through the Process
Ways to Get Started in the Animal Photography Industry
Rachael on Location - Kelsey Creek Farm

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was definitely worth the investment - both time and money. With about 15 hours worth of video sessions and amazing bonus handouts - Rachael provides some really useful, practical tips that you can apply straight away regardless whether you're just beginning your photography journey or are a seasoned professional. It was great to see Rachael at work in session - especially her techniques used to calm and quieten her models if needed. She had a potpourri of helpful suggestions such as remember to take both landscape and portrait shots (if possible), know your rights to take and use images - don't assume, be extra vigilant with cleanliness especially around kittens and puppies who may not have been fully vaccinated, keep kittens and puppies isolated in pens or cages if not in their own environment as they're escape artists etc. Her extensive experience with licensing agents and publishing houses was insightful ... and not for the faint-hearted, so it seems! Thanks Rachael for taking the time to share your know-how, tips and techniques and giving us a peek into your world and workflow you follow to produce awesome animal shots.


I loved this class! I don't I tend to be a "pet photographer" but I do want to be a "Pet friendly" photographer! I have gotten lots of tricks and tools to use while photographing occasional clients pets and my own! ( I have a horse, a pony, bunnies, cats, dogs and ducks) I'm super glad I watched the class live and I'm even more glad I bought it so I can re- watch it whenever I want :) (The shoot with the mini horse, dogs, chicken, duck and people was awesome! It loomed like my family picture would look if my husband didn't say "no" on occassion! lol)

Rebecca Potter

Love, Love, Love this course... Rachael is so down to earth and inspiring and I enjoyed all the hands-on shooting which shows you how patient you need to be for this type of photography. Truly an amazing course... Thank you.

Student Work