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Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Lesson 19 of 22

Marketing Yourself to the Industry

Joel Grimes

Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

19. Marketing Yourself to the Industry

Lesson Info

Marketing Yourself to the Industry

Getting your foot in the door we'll keep going here um so this is how I'm going to go through a little bit of a step by step how I get in to an ad agency or corporate direct or whatever it's a little practical here so that kind of the inspiration thing will move from that place it's not easy right and what we do know this it's harder today than it was ten years ago because we got what voicemail we've got uh all these social media's has a hard time to pick up the phone but here's I'm gonna give you the tip if you can get appointment with someone the odds go up that you're gonna get something out of him today so my goal is that if I haven't art director that I know that does certain ad campaigns or whatever it is boom boom boom call it hate joel grimes here I'd love to meet you in person so try to get appointment with him and that's worth a lot more than just a gn email or uh you know whatever so get face to face your odds go up all right so number one you have to decide what do you want...

to do? What kind of what kind of market you're going right? So this is very important so in the photography really I didn't know this but when I started out I thought well there's newspaper photographers there's national geographic says a magazine I had no idea all the options of photography and a wedding photographers do that but I don't have understanding of the marketplace so I'm gonna show you just a root quick a little bit about the marketplace and how it's broken down now again I'm going to leave out something so don't give me an email and said hey joel but there's wedding photographers of all say consumer direct so no matter what town you live in there's a block or city or somebody that needs these services weddings senior portrait's mom maternity newborns family portrait what's left I know kids at play soccer sports I guess sports you know pictures but in your neighborhood or your city or whatever there's an opportunity to create in the income based on these needs and you can make a really good living now how do you how do you market those people? Well there was um there's a guy that I met and he was very successful in uh and uh well real estate but he ended up had his beautiful mansion and he's buildings gorgeous homes and I said how did you uh how did you start in all this? He said oh, I see I coach soccer I thought well that's kind of interesting uh beginnings he said no no it's not actually he said I started coaching soccer and kids and I met all the kids moms and he said one day I just done on me guess what if I had a real estates license I have all my clients sitting right here and she started selling real estate and he made a really good living at it and then he started buying homes selling those and they started building his own homes and all started on a soccer field so you have to find an interaction with people so where's an interaction we go to a bar not a bad place, right? Hey, buddy, or you go to church what a concept you go to a organization of gatherings of like like let's say you like old cars there's associations of people gather every saturday morning showing off their cars you name it, they're people together. And so, um one time I had art director friend of mine and he had a daughter that was in question writing, you know, and she had a little giddy up, you know, all the little a little uh the pants riding pants and the helmet and she was just gorgeous. And he said, well, you do a portrait of my daughter and I kind of owed him right and I was doing commercial advertising but so I went out there set my four by five up got my one light back when I do one like cross light within this beautiful equestrians where all the hold your horses are ready. What? The name of that is the corral kind, not the corral, but the stable. Yes, the stable. Thank you. Okay. And I started photographing this little girl and we're pulling four by five polaroids. And I'm like intensely, you know, adjusting things. And they're passing it back and I turned around and there's like thirty moms standing there watching and my friends comes up. We always did want to know what you charge. Why they saw the gorgeous portrait and they want my daughter. I want my daughter like that, right? And so there's a market everywhere you turn a gathering of people is an opportunity for you to create an income in photography. But I get people all the time. Wine, wine, wine. Well, I'm in a little town, but there's nothing going on. No work the blind. Well, can we? We get blind by are just short sightedness. Okay, editorial! You go! Newspapers, trade magazine, consumer magazines now editorials are great arena to practice, but don't think you're gonna make a lot of money in the editorial side of things there's a great arena is a great arena take, and usually in the editorial market they say we have a project, go do it a lot of times I don't have an art director anybody stand over you just go and get some great pictures of port portrait of so and so and you're going to shoot it and you make five hundred bucks thousand bucks not a lot of money but you gotto and sometimes you get famous people athletes access to things you would know me get but you don't get paid a lot folks it's a greater read into practice and a lot of art directors look at magazines to further young talent coming up so also to get a phone call in a one hundred thousand dollars campaign but you just made a thousand dollars for the magazine's stuff so it's a great showcase of your work go to the magazine racket barnes and noble count how many magazines there are two hundred ah lot all the photography so don't go complain to me that there's no place to get hired to do your thing but here's the beautiful thing about trade magazines if you like windsurfing you're around windsurfers and you understand we're in surfing and you gotta start covering windsurfing pretty soon you get a portfolio that's really good with windsurfing next thing you know they're all windsurfing magazines and all those manufacturers that build windsurfing equipment start hiring you it's great now do I like windsurfing? I tried it once I couldn't even get out on the board right so the beautiful thing about this marina is I can't specialize in everything right? So I go when I say I'm going to be motorcross guy I'm gonna go out and photograph you know mountain biking or whatever it is there's a there's a little niche for you to go after and here's the one fun thing about it if you do it really well red bull someone's gonna call you and say we want you to do a campaign or whatever it is because we love your work so it's a great play to start to build your work and go from there all right, so let's go to the next one corporate direct or client or our corporate corporate so you go client direct. So when I was in denver we had a hewlett packard north and uh of denver and hewlett packard plant south. So who hewlett packard on a big presence in the denver area so one of my first big corporate jobs was hewlett packard no, I didn't know what they did. I make a phone call I said I like coming to my portfolio like I said, okay, great. How about uh tuesday I said fine he says do you know what we do? We said no now this is nineteen, eighty four, eighty five he's aware we're computer company I said, ok, I'll have some computer pictures when I get to up and so over the weekend I got a compaq computer that my friend had I photographed it showed up showed him the stuff he said you shot this this weekend go yeah he goes you got the job and I got did a bunch of work for hewlett packard for years so but that was corporate direct there's public you relate public relations firms not really familiar with that but uh the entertainment industry um in l a obviously the entertainment industry's huge right go to branson, missouri there might be some entertainment do you have a new york but there's there's stuff going on in the entertainment world and any pictures lots of pictures don't pay as much money as advertising but it's a good uh and corporate um arena pays pretty decent so I didn't uh want to grab design agencies and reports now the nineties were the heyday for the reports and your ports aren't the big thing anymore but the gravity's I'm firms do all sorts of things see cd covers designing evening he has designed and they need photography packaging all this stuff does confirms the photography what a great arena I didn't mean it I spent about ten years there advertising agencies big nut high dollars high pressure if you can't handle that high pressure and you probably won't survive there but it's a great arena now here's what I want to encourage you and and this is the beautiful thing I'm gonna get you because people come to me go oh advertise you do advertising yeah they go that's the big nut yeah well okay it is and I go I don't know how you got there how'd you do that? How did you get there? I said well I made a decision I want to do advertising work and I worked really hard to get there so here's the beauty of it if you say I want to be a wedding photographer you have to make that decision you have to go out and build the bodywork and you gotta work really hard at it it doesn't take any more work to be the number one photographer in in your town in wedding than it has to be a advertising photographer you can develop the skills to meet the advertising needs in that industry it's just that we think so because it's appear I can't achieve it no it's how much time do you want to put towards a building? The bodywork that gets you towe where you start getting hired it just takes a lot of work a lot of all the way all work work, work, work, work so just being a really good waiting for driver takes work, work, work, work if you want to just photograph babies and be really good at it and become known for it work work work doesn't matter just make your decision where you wanna put your hat there don't hang your hat just takes work so don't be intimidated by oh you know magazine photographers or whatever it is I here's here's something I can guarantee you and I'm gonna make a bold statement here if I wanted to be a national geographic photographer I could have been that because you gotta develop a cert look certain style that matt's kind of their magazine work work work get there I met a guy who was um and I'm really bad with names and I've really apologized but he was a newspaper photographer when all sorts of awards national international photography wards in photojournalism now is in this meeting they had like ten top photographers of different uh, genres and I said, well, how did you get into this? And as a photojournalist he started telling me he said he went to the new york times no l a times l a times as a young kid out of college and I think he told me he showed his portfolio thirty times to the photo editor. So you walk in and say I want to work for you and here's my portfolio okay, well you're not ready to go out, you start practicing come back, you're not ready thirty times before he got hired at the new york times and then he went on to become one of the great won a great uh photojournalists I have a friend kerik james who I went to school with and he started doing these beautiful pictures of san francisco the bridges and this before digital and he has this picture made the pony like the san francisco you know portrait are not portrait but the picture of the city you know, that's on all the posters and he had one of those killer image and so people go wow that's amazing light you got really lucky and characters say, well, actually that was the thirtieth morning I got up before five o'clock and went out to the overlook thirty mornings in a row to get that one picture it's work how many people get thirty times go do we teacher very few that's the difference between those of us that you know um succeed and don't succeed you've got to get the name of the person at this whatever it is. Design firm at agency corporate direct photo editor get the name of someone who looks at photography portfolios okay, once you get in it, don't call don't get them on the phone so you go to the reception's hi, I'm joel grimes I'm a photographer I would like to find out who in this company looks at photographers portfolios I just want to get their name they say it's betty smith, thank you you're right it down you create a serious of uh packets something to send him and you want to make it really cool, delicate don't do whatever way of their photographers do don't do it eight by ten glossy or a postcard do something that nobody else is doing so that when they did, it looks a little different and I used to make handmade custom little books joel rhymes portfolio series one delicate black and white portrait's the next one would be maybe a different siri's of something and out the door it would go I would send it to the mail in the mail to them and then I would go and try to make a phone call no more than a day or two after they receive it so you don't send the packet, then call him two weeks later they forgot you you want time, it and a big attitude she may have a big male system to get to their may take you three days to get to him where smaller agency takes two days she tried time and you go hey, or you make a phone call and so you say, hey, um if you get him on the phone, you say hi this joel grimes, I just left you a little by such a little packet and I wanted to just beat you in person and find out what your needs are in photography very simple you have to go to big spiel they go well you know I'm really busy right now I said it would be okay if I said you other packets and make a phone call and call it fall up yeah nobody ever says has told me no but the fact is is most time to get a voicemail right so here's a little trick to get voicemail what's our natural human tendency to dio what clique you don't want to leave a voice mail right so here's what I do gettin voicemail hey this is joel grimes I sent you a little packet and I want to make sure you got that I'd love to come in and meet you in person and find out what kind of need you having photography here's my number hope to talk to you soon how hard is that wretched appoint but guess what I said hi this is joel grinds affected users say hi this is joel grimes at the beginning then I say all right and again his joel grimes joel grimes get that name in their head and then three days later I might make a phone call but eventually I keep leaving voice messages so what ideo I never hear from him said another packet make all my phone calls never hear from him it's another packet keep doing it I keep doing it I keep doing it keep doing that and I can tell you this what's really wild I've been pitching an ad agency that does huge ad campaigns and I'm sitting pakistan creative director there are director maybe couple are vectors and I get not one contact not one phone call back nothing three, four months, five months, six months and I think they do even exist and all of a sudden hey, joel, this is someone so over at whatever agency uh we would love to have you come in we have a project for you and they throw me one hundred thousand dollars campaign right there and I walked in I go I've been calling you guys oh yeah we love your work we've been all over talks about you what I was ready to give up on a you don't know what's going on behind the doors do you? And then I would go and I would walk in and and I look over at the art director's desk and everything and guess what's on the walls folks my promo so they put him up they like and they put him up so you don't know what's going on behind siege but you want to give up because you think that nobody's responding, they're busy so I repeated eight times at least eight times I track it all every phone call I make I marked down clog in everything you do very important because then you track it um so here's a little saying I get a job just as fast if someone could lose a job so how fast does someone lose a job so you're late ten minutes you got stuck in traffic and you deliver the job in the clan goes we'll never use that person again they held us up for ten minutes I was pitching how would you know if I should say the client but is a big client and I kept pitching this lady well we got someone so we have a photographer which we're good we're booked I mean he's he's he's our guy so three years I pitched her kept sending packets kept taking phone calls kept city packets every time same story and uh I get a phone call she's hey the song itself from whatever oh yeah what happened to your photographer was she so we got a project for you I said what happened? Your photographer well she said last year during the board of directors uh photo shoot he made an inappropriate joke and he had to send a letter of apology to all the border directors and he's no longer welcome in our building guess what his fastest someone could lose a job I could get one so what happened boned the door was open I was in the door I worked for them for years, so don't worry if you keep marketing the door will crack open and you'll be in and don't tell bad jokes don't tell bad jokes and with that, but the thing is you never would have gotten the job if you hadn't been doing all of that prep work for the three years and fire that's it, but I wanted to give up that night I didn't, and because of that I paid my kids diapers, whatever needed you know, christmas presents all that stuff because I kept at it, so we are now ready for so let's, go ahead and start with one from ash cash and, uh, kinda similar one from good m what happens when you show your work to an agency that uses your type of work when they already have five hundred other photographers that do that already? Why not show apart full of portfolio to an agency that doesn't have anyone else like you and then get him, says one of the problems I have come across is that I find the need to be original and unique is debilitating and makes it very hard to take on the world because everyone says to take on the world you need to be unique, but then you find yourself racking your brains for a long time, trying to figure out what to do rather than do it so what's your thoughts on being unique on standing out and how that either helps or her too. Well, it sounds like this poor guy's got a lot of the one on his head, which we've all had right? Um uh, he's a sort through that, but the point is this that number one when I get up in the morning, I know I have to go to the gym, right? What do I do? I'm busy and make phone calls. I can't go to the gym. I'm tired. Whatever step terrible. I got this to go. I'll make a thousand excuses so number one is our human nature makes excuses and keeps us from doing useful to dio so you say, well, I gotta be unique but then I got all the stuff. The point is is that yes, I gotta be unique. Yes. When there's a sea of people I'm competing against. Yes, all these things are yes, but the problem is, is if you buy into that or let that be the roadblock, you don't succeed, right? So you just gotta go keep plowing forward doing what you love so here's what I would say, I think we're gonna talk about trans love it later, but you do what you love as an artist, bill the body of work get that work out in front of people and there's always going to be a slot that you could fill the problem is is most of us think we gotta fill every slot my head spins and we don't feel any slot so stick with something and I guess what eventually your look will be needed and that priest so like I said it's well I'm jumping ahead because I don't wanna talk about trends and stuff but yes it's hard it's not easy but don't don't let that little voice tell you make make, make, make, make, make and you don't go work out right? Just keep plowing ahead and those that what I say persevere and are a perseverance is greater than a great portfolio, which is the perfect segue way to the next question. So you said persistence will win over more people than a great portfolio and I think that made a lot of people the hair on the back of their necks stand up a little bit just because we think it's about the quality of our work that's as photographers that's what we're stuck on and we just we can't give it up so my name my name is asked how important do you think the quality of the work is? Would it be more effective to have great work first before you start marketing? Would it make a big difference all right, well here's the problem I had I would have my portfolio it's all finished ready to go printed and then I just got through doing a really cool shot for an ad campaign or whatever and I got some one says we want you to come in and show the powerful leo we're all waiting for you we got a project for you or the possibility of project and I'm like I want to take that picture and put it in there because that's going to give me more credibility right? And so I'm like up at night you know, printing or wherever it is to get that one picture in their thinking is going to make the difference probably not see um so we get swayed by yes, I gotta have really good work and I'm still growing but it's not it's not is we put a greater weight on that then what it should be the greater weight should be put on I'm gonna get in front of that group and I'm gonna talk about pricing later and you watch that's a shatter our perception on how we get hired just wait don't go sleeping if you're in god knows how the world because I'm gonna teach on pricing but what happens is we believe the portfolio is the end all it's not, but you still can't say I'm going to slack off and not do good work always always member said two things always trying to increase my quality work but it's not the most important thing when it comes to actually getting a job uh a along that same line kind of a very just logistical question jack in a day do you have recommendations for how many images a portfolio should include to show to prospective clients when beginning to market ones photography big a body of work you need before you can start putting it in front of people very good question all right, so what now we live in a different age than I did twenty years ago. Twenty years ago everything was a print portfolio and we would say back in those days thirty pictures maybe thirty pictures but here's what you want to do you don't want to put a picture in that is a really weak picture and then solid you have ten really good pictures and then you have a weak one and then that week went throws the you know they remember the weak one and so there's a there's a there's a trap because I want to show my best work but sometimes I don't know what my best work is so there's a whole thing so you get someone to say hey, this is really good that's really bad pull that one out whatever but back when it's all print we were used to maybe thirty, thirty five boards or whatever and then with time now a digital were used to going click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click and looking at sixty pictures in three minutes. So I think our directors today are used to having mohr content put before him than they were twenty years ago, so I have a printed portfolio and and so people gonna ask, do I need a printed portfolio today? I believe you d'oh, but most of ninety nine percent of what I do is on the web and but what? But because of that, when I have a one on one meeting, I don't want to show him an ipad flipping through digital images, I want a printed book in front of him because that separates me from the web or the digital, you know, doing but and so am I printed portfolio. Now I have about seventy pictures because I have front back and I have about thirty boards in there, so it's about seventy some around their sixty to seventy boards, the pictures that's a lot, but I've watched him walk through it there like this. They walk through any talk of ask few questions and they'll flip through it really fast because they're used to get so don't be afraid to have sixty, seventy pictures in there, but it's, whatever feels comfortable to you, but times have changed all right well we have time for one or two more questions and for me personally you know I have a lot of fear about going down one road when you talk about picking something and going down that and then just doing the work um and oliver switzerland had asked can we aim to be the top wedding photographer and top commercial sports photographer of our town at the same time in the same town if they are to seasonal things in our area what do you think about people that you can't decide or are scared that if they go down that road they won't like it when they get there okay well it's a good question I don't think it's a problem being uh and especially if you're in a smaller town or whatever doing and weddings and something else nothing's wrong with that um but I think that when I started out I what's that term you're the jack of all trades and master of none you know that happens a lot because we just you know we get how you like this like this like this like this right I'm gonna cover everything gotta be a product shooter and do architecture I do weddings and I do this I think you need to narrow down and I think that that takes a risk so let's go back to it usually the greater the risk the greater return usually so my question is this it sounds like it's more of a fear of letting go and doing one thing it's a fear right so as our human humanity comes in play right we're human so at some point six years ago I made a decision I'm going to go into a grungy, edgy portrait bodywork and all cost and everyone said I was crazy all my friends said julie you can't just do one thing like that and so it's because I did that I'm standing here today you would know joel grimes if I hadn't taken the risk of saying this is the look I'm doing and I'm going to go non stop ten, twelve hours a day seven days a week for six years so I took a risk and I have a greater return because of it so don't be afraid to just say I'm going for it all at all cost well that and maybe just one final comment really quick love is todd mcveigh jumped in and said joel speaks the truth I am an art director turning to the photo side and that's just what I did I put promo is on my wall till I had a project that was right for someone I wanted to work with you never know what's happening behind those doors so remember this I'm a human the person on the other end of the line so to speak is human remember human oh our learned human behavior okay, so what are directors exhausted? Tired? Um pressures the bosses telling this they got budgets all these things right? The pressure's on you make a phone call I'm a photographer I'm really good. Go on, I don't have time for this right now, right? Are they being mean? No. Do they want to reject you? Kick you out the door and make you cry? No that's, just a real world. So remember I said I have in my mind that one day I could save that person from a client a crisis I'm gonna be the knight in shining armor some point, so I don't let it get to me that they're busy exhausted and don't have time for me I go, I'm going to say there but one day because I know they're human because one day they're gonna neither but saved and that's when I come in so we look at how humans behave and one last thing rick quick when you're an art buyer art director or a mom with a with a bride walking into your wedding shop for a shop, they have a couple things that they're thinking about right? And one is budget we're gonna talk about that minute but here's another thing they're thinking about maybe not consciously, but if you say I have the ability to make and create a perfect exposure and you think that woman's gonna go? Whoa, I'm so excited. But if you said I have the ability to make your day to her daughter's day, the most special, I record that and have record of the most special day on film. And have it. These gorgeous pictures that have emotions tell a story blah, blah, blah, which is more important, perfect technical craft, or someone who could tell the story and bring out emotions. The artists that's. More important. An art director. Who's would do it, and working for a campaign, wants to hire creative force. Someone who's, an artist. And we want to show him all these perfectly technically correct images when over your potential client by being an artist.

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Commercial photography isn’t about mastering complex lighting ratios or obscure retouching techniques. Successful commercial photography hinges upon your ability to turn your creative vision into a polished product. In this class, commercial photographer Joel Grimes will teach you how to think of your photography as an artistic process, not a mathematical equation.

Joel, a commercial photographer with more than 25 years’ experience working for top advertising agencies, will reveal his signature lighting, shooting, editing, and marketing methods. Joel will teach you to trust your artistic instincts by demonstrating how he conceptualizes two different photo shoots: an edgy athletic portrait, and a commercial beauty shoot. Joel will also walk you through how to identify the right lighting to attain your desired result.

After transforming the way you think about conceptualizing, lighting, and shooting, Joel will unveil his creative compositing techniques and tips and tricks for retouching skin. By the end of this two-day workshop, you will have a tried-and-true playbook for creating works of photographic art that dazzle commercial clients.

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Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!