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Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding

Lesson 3 from: Commercial Photography: From Start to Finish

Joel Grimes

Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding

Lesson 3 from: Commercial Photography: From Start to Finish

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

3. Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding


Class Trailer

Day 1


Ten Things That Spell Disaster for a Photographer Part 1


Ten Things That Spell Disaster for a Photographer Part 2


Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding


Shoot: One Side Light Beauty Shot Part 1


Shoot: One Side Light Beauty Shot Part 2


Shoot: One Overhead Light Headshot


Shoot: Edgy Three Light Setup Part 1


Lesson Info

Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding

You need to be costly cranking out new work you want to brand yourself you got to do fifty I say fifty but let's go thirty to fifty self assignments ah year meaning that almost every week you're setting up a picture no one's paying for it it's following the visions you have an artist you're building some kind of body of work every weekend or every three minute you have you are creating a new image that that fulfills the brand that you're trying to go after you can't do it three times a year or on your vacation you've got to be doing it every free minute you have and talk to my wife she every three minutes I'm out shooting something new I'm creating a new image backgrounds doing something there's never a downtime for me because I'm always building my brand so you want to compete with me you've got to do fifty self assignments a year so when I talked to the students that brooks art institute or art center wherever I speak and I tell them I said look I'll bet you right now that if you too...

k all the sign that you had this semester and you took how many times I went out did a self assignment I bet you did more work than you did that's what I know to survive I know that's what it takes some people say I can't wait to your school's done what I mean. There is harder in the real world school's easy you want to beat the world you're constantly cranking out new work no downtime now that's the choice I've made if you want to go sailing and have a hobby that's great maybe you can incorporate sailing into your brandy but fact is um I'm always working keep up with the trends by setting them now I I have this and the last time we did this workshop I talked about this but if you had a crystal ball and you wanted to know the trends of the future would be great but nobody has a crystal ball nobody smart enough to know where the trends are but there's something a thousand times better than knowing where the trends are you set the trends now people say what? I couldn't set the trends yes you can you know instead of trend it's really simple you taken idea that comes from your uniqueness the passion you have is an artist the vision you have as an artist you take all the tools that you have today that we have and you put it all together and you go do fifty self assignments a year and start putting it out there and next thing the world will take notice you do well even if you don't do well it's still better than someone who does and has all the town the world and does nothing cranking out images and repeating the subject over and over or branding is huge and people take notice and pretty soon people want to do what you're doing so brandy was setting the trans is not that hard there's a lot of people setting trends not just one person sets trends hundreds if not thousands of people are setting trends it's just that we know their work because they're constantly cranking it out and repeating it and doing it well and also you go that's also because your brand even make sense to you following this train for example for me you are this kind of style would you change for a new one will be know that they know the ground I don't know start over say what? Yes, they know my brand because I've stuck with it for a change because you tell me you are open to new things and we need to be open to new stuff for the end of the world you run okay, so I think what I understand you're saying is that if I stick with a brand I'm locked into something right then and there is no change well e think it's on another slide because it's coming up but the fact is is that I may be jumping ahead here ah brand only last seven to ten years wait what do you know how long it takes a brand three to five years you're saying that it takes three to five years to brand something and in the brand only last seven five years what does that tell you? You're constantly going to have to be re branding yourself in a career a brand only last about seven ten years so in a thirty year career your brain in yourself at least three times over if not maybe four that's a lot of work who's up for it yes if you want have a career in photography you have to be willing to go and say I'm willing to go and rebrand myself every seven to ten years it's a lot of work but yeah there's change is gonna happen but you got to stick with at least a brand long enough for it to take root becoming a creative force in industry now how do you become a creative creative force whatever I said I'm doing thirty two bit press hdr and straw being outdoors and doing something that's kind of cool I love it right I'm always trying to take the tools we have today that's my next life I wanna jump ahead well it just hit it because it take the current tools and apply am to my creative vision there's some tools I look at it go oh that's kind of cool all right I'll take that take that take that so I'm taking tools but I'm always out there trying to know what's going on in industry and toe, and I applied to joel grimes vision. I have a very narrow vision on purpose if you have the vision like this now, I hope I have some things I hope I have a vision that I know that you know, the world's at my fingertips, so to speak, right? I'm not locked into one city and their one corner on the street corner, right? I have a vision that I want to get out there in the world, but my branding is very narrow. It has to be, but I'm taking all the tools and applying it so hdr background three ej lighting I repeat it over and over again, always repeating someone early on. I'll spend stuff on flicker, and this is what they said. They really said ah, another three light, you know, approach when you're going to move on, joel and I type back when I feel like it when I beat this into the ground until I'm sick and tired of it and I've done what it's supposed to do, which is brand me that's what I'm gonna move on, what happens is what we see, what happens is that attacks me right because I'm weak, fragile and secure, and I think that person doesn't like me. They think I suck er I'm gonna move on so they derail you from what you're supposed to be doing right? How many times have we been derailed by one person's opinion all the time? Because you're human, so be careful, stick with what you've got, brand it, go after it don't listen to the people. Well, here's in my next one, this is important choose a niche that fits you like a glove, so I would say if you don't like babies don't photograph babies that cliff and I were out there and we're shooting that are watching this lady, she was photographing kids and one of little kids wasn't even walking right and he was sitting on a concrete and he went but inlet on the back of his head, he's bond, you know, I'd bawl too, but we were going, oh, paul, I'm so glad I'm not doing that chute, right? Because it's hard kids are hard babies are even harder. I think they're still precious and we had four of them and we loved our little boys and I photographed him and I actually did kids for a while I loved photographing kids, but they're hard if it doesn't fit you like a glove, don't touch it don't get near it because you're not going to be happy and so, um, find something that you love find something that you say I'm gonna get up at five in the morning to go out and photograph whatever it is that fits you like a glove picked that because you've got to stick with it to brand it three to five years before it takes root and it'll have a seventeen year life span that's a long time photographing one subject there was I don't know this photographer I hate this because I do this all the time but I was in like pottery barn or whatever and there was just you know they have a display and there was this beautiful sailboat picture gorgeous shot and I went and I found this guy and I looked him up and he's just all he does sailboats I wish I knew his name I apologize you'll probably find him if you type in sailboat fine art stuff beautiful stuff it's been a lifetime doing it photographing that he loves you like certain uh snow snowboarding seen snow sports whatever go after if you don't like it I hate being cold oh, I just did a shoot we had b up and tell you right we amy and I both got caught on top of the mountain and a blizzard couldn't see I couldn't see the end of my skis and we're trying to get down way down my miserable right that's hard I don't like that put me the desert I'm fine so butt pic would fit you like a glove and then you could repeat it over and over and over again because remember how many hours you spend if you do if you do thirty to fifty self assignments a year and you got to retouch all those how many hours a week are you gonna be working on that image or that that brand what they'll pick something doesn't make sense so pick something that you love now here's the next thing beat that mitch into the ground beat in the ground don't let anyone come along say aren't you done with that yet aren't gonna move on no you beat in the ground so actually I see that my slides here I ended up jumping ahead on my own three to five years thing but here we goes so let's go back to this so now that we've covered it um three to five years how do I know this? Because I've actually branded myself twice now I did it with a type fifty five polar right stuff and you know what you mentioned? My navajo uh made american siri's idea computation book that's a long time ago so that we're not what in a way that was kind of a brand to be two years in the field it took another year before I saw the book and print and then I, you know, had its life but I don't really show that work anymore you know why? Because it had its life do you see that I don't show that much of my time fifty five anymore because it took its course and guess what? I know one thing for sure that my look the joel grimes look that you see right here has a life seventeen years it's not gonna be around forever you thinking and the other five, six years I'd be doing this not like what I'm doing now no move on do something new because guess what? There's a life it all has a life now I wish it didn't I wish it was that where I could just go and build a brand and then lived my whole career and if you're a super super super super rock star in the industry, maybe you could do that but for most of us comes and goes to get tired, so I know that I'm fifty six years old I know that I'm going to do at least one more major brand in my career to survive. I know that for a fact and I'm not going to tell you what that is no, I don't know what it is I mean, I'm working on some ideas but it is um the way the industry works so but it's fun actually, you know what? I have had more fun reinventing myself in the last six, seven years and I have in my whole career, the couple reasons for that one is we're in the digital age and I don't pay for film like I used to some things a good um but we have so many cool tools, techniques, photoshopped, all this stuff going on, I am there's not enough hours in today, I'm having a lot of fun, and so I know that that's not going to die, I'm going to keep having fun doing this. So my next rebrand, I think I'm gonna probably go into doing more of the fine art kind of stuff more print showing, you know, galleries and stuff that's kind of my goal and, uh, that's not an easy thing to do either. So that's probably the future where I'm gonna go, but, um, I know there's a life to everything that I do there's a life spanned and so my brand that I'm doing right now, maybe he has a couple more years left the most. So I'm gonna be surprised when people go old. Take a look at any wedding photographer. Wedding photographers call me up all the time and I'll say I was the king of the town for twenty years now I can't get a wedding to save my life and I said okay I'm gonna ask you a very simple question sit down doesn't want you to pass out are you in your studio where you can see images that you have taken yes point to your favorite image okay it's the bride over here when was that taken back in nineteen eighty two that's why you're dead in the water because everything has a style look and when the bride comes in a bride to be and a mom comes in the door and they want to pick a photographer and they look at old fuddy duddy wedding pictures they'll bolt right out the door they want the new hip coolest thing you're producing old they might have been great images twenty years ago but they're not great now folks they're boring so think about that what do you producing? Something could've done ten years ago I asked my question if I could have done it ten years ago chances are today would be boring I want to produce a picture today that looks amazing today it's today's current techniques, tools everything doesn't mean that you can't take in fact I'm gonna try to do across light scenario today I'd across like twenty five years but I'm kind of looking at looking for bringing back my cross light look beautiful light sought cross light look but now I'm doing with digital and I'm also doing it in photo shop and um you know, cleaning some things up and adding deck textures in the background so but yes, um I don't wanna have been created image that I could have done ten years ago even though even might have a host of my kids love it they'll go down this stuff some of your best up like don't say that I want you to say that my current stuff but it is what it wass back then it was fun stuff, but I moved on right don't listen to the lazy whining naysayers everywhere you go we talked aboutthe weiners, but everywhere you go people want to pull you down here's the crazy thing about photographers and I hate to say this because I'm in the field of the much of a target reason rebels elbows with the mall time and maybe not as much today as it was in the older days but in the I say the older days back when I was going labs and we'd meet photographers on a regular basis but photographers I did not want you to succeed because your competition we'll talk all about this later so photographers tended to try toe suck the life out of you by saying, oh, industry sucks you know, my client's air, you know, demanding more out of me in pain less you know, the stuff that sucks the life out here is not an encouraging exhortation of uh life it was like sucking the life out of you and so the tigris didn't do that they don't want you to succeed now I think that's changed a little bit I think part of it is because as we have now the internet and as we're learning everyone's learning from everybody and we tend to realise I think more today than it before that if I give I get more in return right? So I locked myself in my studio and don't share anything I'm doing when he went in and out no one shares with me right? So we're tend to be more exchanging of ideas and but I think that be careful because there's always a group of people that want to bring and sucked the life out of you don't hang out with them don't let them steal your vision and your dream and so but they're they're they're always there and so when I get along and I start to talkto someone and they start to be like that and like buy I'm out here I don't need it and if someone encouraged and I have I have photographer friends of mine that are just very encouraging and I want to call him up I want to go to lunch with him I want to hang out with them and when I hand with photographers and you and you'll know this I'm always encouraging someone to achieve their dreams and the passion they have for their their their craft always trying to encourage them as part of my personality. But I want teo have someone else succeed because I have so much fun and doing what I'm doing so but don't be sucked into that. Um, remember this? This is an important point. You only have to win over in this branding. Okay, you only have to win over a small segment of a naughty in ce. Well, you put it this way. I love music, and I love the way music, sort of as an analogy of how, um, the industry works. Okay? And I was used ray lamontagne he's, a singer songwriter, raspy voice. And when I mentioned his name, a lot of people don't know who he is, but he's and I said, you will know james taylor he's, a singer songwriter. But we think that our audience, the audience I need to win over is the masses, and there are some singer songwriter's, whatever that have appealed to the masses, but most of them almost good percentage, ninety five percent of all the musicians and singers out there are only a marketing to a very small sliver of the pie, and so when you go and build your brand, remember that it doesn't have to fit the masses not like I said very rare is that possible that someone could say, you know, even as a lad, I'm not it not everyone loved ansel adams, so I know there's not you know, it's not my cup of tea, but he's probably pretty famous one for the masses, but most of the farmers we know today are carving out a small piece of the pie, so if you do weddings, you could say I should all kinds of weddings, all different styles, you do that, but you're going to run around like a crazy person and there's no brandy, but if you say I do black and white sepia babel light charlotte at the field, maybe you do some technique that you add to it that brand you and then what happens is as you put that out, someone comes along goes, I look, I want that person to my wedding and I can tell you right now you get it, you'll be right you're able tto charge a lot more for that that if you're just a jack of all trades, I do everything when you brand yourself with a certain look in a certain style, then it's going to strike the court in a small segment of people and they're willing to pay for it that's so much better than just blanket I'm everything I do babies, I do this I do that, you know? And so but as a cz a young photographer starting out, I did everything I didn't know any different. I think some people maybe said, hey, you know, maybe these specialized in something I did product and food, I didn't do food very long, I hate doing that, but I shot weddings, I've done, you know, any reports? I spent ten years doing any reports all around the world, fifty countries plus, um I love portrait did architecture, I started out in architecture, you can with tilt, you know, doing the perspective, controlling all that, but eventually had to go find that groove and then say, this is what I do, I'm gonna do as best as I can, I'm gonna beat in the ground and then I'm going to let my clients come and say that's what I want and we'll pay for it so that's a better snap we're talking about that and, uh, another session so with that do you have any questions? We do have questions let's just jump right into those. So questions have been coming up. This is from vi vi who would like to know if you're basing the reinvention of your branding on where there's a gap or a hole in the photography trends or do you really suggest just finding what you love and sticking to that versus looking okay that's going to fit another title slide that I have coming up but to answer it right now yes do what you love don't try to analyze the market place and try to fit the slot so where do you think there's a hole you could do that we'll talk about that more but you're much better doing what you love and then say hello I'm here I'm in business much better okay all right so a question came in from poppy who wanted to know if you think that joel grimes look that you have now you're branding is diluted at all by a lot of the imitators out there and when you talk about reinventing yourself does do does that come into your mind at all okay what when I first started teaching this and sharing with all my techniques a lot of my friends are coming to me go what are you doing jule you're given away and there's going to be all these copycats right? Well here's and I believe this to the core who I am nobody can copy me or nobody copy you are you are you meaning that ultimately I could be influenced by you and I would say that's a cool look I'm gonna try that lighting or I'm gonna try that technique or whatever but ultimately you gotta find your saying and so when I see you gets what you know what's crazy there's people have taken my look and then a lot better now but they put their stamp on it I go oh my gosh I wish I had done that I didn't do it but I know I know what I do and I know what I do and I love to do and I'm gonna keep doing it and I'm happy with it if someone comes along and does out similar look and does it better than me it's okay, I have it I can't avoid that in life it's like you know toyota designs a car it's really cool and then the next year nissan comes out with something that sort of looks like it and then you know, someone takes an idea from mercedes and brings it over to honda maybe we're just constantly moving designs around but there's still a mercedes a mercedes and a honda honda toyota toyota it has it brandy so you can't just go and try to go I can't I've got to put something out there because someone might take it and run with it that's stupid me it would be doesn't a silly again you lock yourself in the room so no, I have a lot of confidence in who I am as an artist I've had to have that over time it's gotten better at it but that I'm okay with that does that make sense? And but here's the other thing I'm teaching now why? Well, I've always had a love of sharing, but it's because I love people to get excited about what they're doing, and if someone says I love your look, joan, I'm gonna look after it fine, but I know that eventually they're going to find their own, their own signature and just a follow up on just one second clip follow from san walt men. So would you consider just changing your portrait lighting or your editing techniques or the way you shoot backgrounds reinventing yourself? Or were you completely switched to another field of photography when you decide it's time to mix things up a bit? I think that I'm always going to be a portrait shooter I love always love in your face portrait that's just me, I'm so drawn to that and so it's going to be hard for me to break out of that, but I think that I'm going to take it in a whole nother level in terms of maybe I think what I'm gonna do is I could set it move into the fine arts side of things more so what I want to do is create images that someone says, I want to purchase that and put that on my wall over my fireplace does that make sense instead of doing ads you are an ad look, which is kind of where I come out of and so I'll probably do something similar but in terms of its going to be less advertising looking and the edgy ish kind of feel to it but I don't know what that's gonna look like yet there's a couple images that I don't know if I have him on here but one is of a girl in front of ah uh joshua tree cactus she's real soft she britney she's like this is just kind of looking like this our eyes closed it's a profile and there's that saurel cactus piana and I have another girl that I shot with a yucca plant behind her black and white and lastly, I love that that's kind of a look that I'm thinking about doing something a little more in that line so still portrait and it still more maybe not directly looking in your face but it's a little more soft in terms of, you know and black and white to I love black away cool cliff, did you have a question? Yeah, well, one thing that joel tried sending e mails all the time go, I'm not quite getting it can you tell me when I'm not getting your joel grimes look and and you know he's gets a super busy gets ten females but he he said something about a month and a half ago that really got to me and made me release it and he said hey, he says quit trying to copy the dog look he said find what excites you and get drawn to and then discreetly look and it was at that point I think well it almost like took pressure off me because I thought, well, I could just play and experiment and find something that that I like doing because he was very right in the fact that I sort of get drawn back something that I like but I would look at my work and go it doesn't look like jewels and I would keep trying to ask you what is he doing? I want you know what that look but you know, I'm drawn to what I do because I think of just the martial arts and what I like to capture and what I'd like to add to it so I think that's where you get people who get frustrated because they can't get that look but what you said was important, you've got to rebrand yourself because maybe in a couple of years that isn't more well here's another thing is a quick analogy yeah, that is this I used to sing write songs perform and it's always harder to do someone else's song so when I write my own song I can sing that one in my sleep, but I've tried to perform someone else's song. Oh, my gosh, the range goes a little too high for me, or a little too low, or the way they fluctuate their voice. I just can't quite get it. And so the same thing with photography it's. Easier to do your creative vision, that someone else's, so it doesn't mean I don't learn from someone else's, song or style of music. I'm listening to that as I'm writing the same. Yes, use other people's influence. But do your own thing, because it's a lot easier to perform it.

Ratings and Reviews


Joel Grimes reflects the true meaning of a passionate modern artist. Seamlessly blending his old school film techniques in todays ever-changing digital world with such amazing realistic results. Not only in his own body of work, but achieving the same outcome while teaching LIVE, even when things don’t always run smoothly, much like the real world. Thank you Joel for sharing your hard work and talents, your struggles, most importantly, your honest open teaching style with such detail in every segment. Much appreciate CREATIVE LIVE for keeping it real with good talent, on and off screen showcasing common humanity in us all. Indeed, a revolutionary company. Manny DaCunha.

a Creativelive Student

As an editorial and photographic professional it's refreshing to find new cerebral information that goes beyond simple instruction. It was motivating to see Joel, a highly respected professional who is successful in "real-life", display his thought process, points to be successful, and insights into his art. When you have been in the industry, working full time, you need those moments to relax, visualize and re-energize so you can look at projects with a renewed vision and passion. Joel and his Commercial Photography course did that and more for me. If my schedule allowed, I would certainly join Joel at one of his workshops. Only thing better than this CreativeLive would be attending live. Thank you Joel.

Student Work