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Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Lesson 20 of 22

Reinventing Yourself

Joel Grimes

Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

20. Reinventing Yourself

Lesson Info

Reinventing Yourself

Well, we've already touched on hardwork, right? I'm gonna continue on that a little bit, and I think from literally the moment I opened my mouth at this creative live sessions, I've been pounding this idea of hard work, and I want to just finish up on that a little bit. We're gonna go with hard work. Um, and we're also going to talk about, um, trends keeping up with the trends, brandy, and we're also going to talk about pricing, negotiating and put position yourself in the market place, ok? So let's say you, you wake up one day and you say, I'm not the most talent person on the planet you ever thought of that? Well, you know, alone and but the good news is is that we talked about talent, will outperform or hard work a lot performed talyn day of the week, the one thing you can do is pull up your bootstraps and get out there and produce, and, um, so not only have I seen this in my own life, how hard work has paid off, I've seen in other people's lives, people that thought, you know what?

I don't have a voice and get out there and they become a voice and they do some great things, so, um, it really comes down to an investment of time so let's go back to malcolm gladwell's book on the outliers, he said, and as this research that he was doing, he was trying to find out what was this is what made the success of people and the one of things that they came up with is that to master anything? Even ansel adams said this takes about ten years to master photography and then from there if you don't have it I guess I don't know but it takes about ten years of hard work but they've discovered that about ten thousand hours is what it takes to master something and so when I was in guanajuato one of the one of the instructors um he had a t shirt with van halen t shirt and I use this and I don't know the exact one hundred percent story of van halen eddie van halen his brother but there was I read a quote for a story about about eddie and when he was a young when he became when he hit the scene I think he was pretty young you know, uh seventeen eighteen I don't know but they call him a prodigy, right and so was eddie van halen a prodigy well, here's the thing uh when you hear the story about him he literally started playing guitar I think you started the drums first, but then you could pick the guitar up maybe I don't know what age but young age, twelve years old or something, but he would put in hours and ours not like you know you're supposed to learn to play guitar you put in your two hours are one hour lessons he would sit there for eight, ten hours at a time running riffs by tommy hit sixty seven years old he put his ten thousand hours in most kids were out smoking cigarettes on the street corner he was practicing more than anyone and became a prodigy, so to speak, but how to get there? Was he brilliant? A project? I don't think so I think it was because yes, he had an aptitude for guitar plane, he had a passion for it he worked really hard is putting in the time no different than soccer, they're no different than playing basketball, all these things that we want to do, we want to become really good at it's, the person who puts in the most time that succeeds the greatest and so but we want to go and look at what the final product will look at someone wow, look at this guy's or douse work they're talented, but we don't factor in the hard work part, so don't be sway by this concept of talent that's my whole point um it is true that I can I hear music naturally, I know chord changes, I can accept practice, but I could hear it pretty well it's probably a natural gift you could say we're born with natural gifts, but ultimately when I started writing songs in high school, then college I know my brother was really good at writing songs he was a nap I say more natural writing and I wass and I would send I spend three weeks on a song and he could probably do it in ten minutes or an hour do you write a song really fast? I spent three weeks well at the end of the we have to split our songs and we did our sessions we do, you know, sort of half of my songs have a hiss, but people will think we're both like amazing writers write but it was more because I had the tenacious ability to stick with something and I could produce enough songs to do my section. My set, my session but I had to work a lot harder. And so remember that when you see someone and you see the final product, the chances are it was hard work that got them there. So you have to picture that you put in the time and lives there distracted um we don't have too many things we do are doing um all right, so to compete in today's marketplace let's get back to kind of like the mets and bolts here to compete in days today's marketplace you need to be produced in thirty to fifty amazing portfolio images a day our year but not a day but a year and so ten years ago if I had produced ten amazing portfolios a year I thought I was doing really good but today we have ah, we have what more tools we can produce more at quickly then we could ten years ago twenty years ago and so today to keep and to be competitive you gotta be rocking it all the time. So thirty to fifty amazing portfolio's almost like reinventing your portfolio over here that's really hard is possible so I get calls all the time e mails and it's a wedding photographer in the eighties and nineties this photographer rock their little town they were the number one photographer in town now they can't get a wedding to save their life that comey wine wine, wine, crime what is wrong? I say okay I want to look at it I want you to look around your studio just point a picture on the wall italian when was that photographed? Nineteen eighty two there is your problem not current work you can't live off photography that was done have you seen other than that one picture that I had of the older uh the poor eat up to fifty five member in that one cross light section I did every picture you're seeing here there about four five years old now I got some great pictures they taught ten years ago I think great pictures I don't show him now my website do we have one one little section of type fifty five but the point is, is I'm promoting and peddling current images to compete nothing wrong with those old images, but they're not going to compete in today's marketplace, so you have three be replacing those images constantly and here's here's why let's go back to our humanity? We're human. So you ever looked at a, uh, car that came off the you know, the current model comes off the showroom and as you're going that is amazing five years later is drive along the road you go that's kind of a boring looking car, right? Why is that? Well, because time's changed styles change, everything changes and so if you're a car shooter in l a and you're knocking on the art ad agencies doors you don't show car more than two years old and your portfolio, so if you were the rocket car shooter in the you know, ten years ago you don't show old cars unless they're vintage cars, you show the current models in your portfolio that's what's hard about a car shooter is you really have to be knocking it out every year to stay current and there's only you know a dozen car shooters that are you know like I said maybe five that on the top in l a the rest are all wannabes because their current so when it comes to weddings it's crazy but wedding dresses have styles those guys are clueless to that but makeup has styles hair has styles you want to stay current with the styles of people from dress wardrobe to hair to make up everything to techniques that we have and so you gotta be producing almost a new portfolio every year I know that sounds crazy but that's how you compete can't live on past images and so I've had for tigers come to be go well that's a really amazing shot what client you shoot for I say that was a self assignment really what about that shot self assignment what about that shot self assignment and I asked him was the last time you did a self assignment and one photographer told me ten years ago so you got to stay current I actually have a lot of fun staying current to achieve a lifetime career as a photographer you need to completely reinvent yourself every seven to ten years wait a minute that's a lotta work revenge yourself is hard seven six seven years ago I sat down and reinvent myself and I have people coming today go hey I worked with you you know, eight years ago and I look at your work now it's like you're new completely different photographer yeah because I reinvented myself and so that's a lot of energy expended and expense because you've got to get out and usually you know, pay for models or whatever it is I do a lot trade outs but the point is is that be competitive you need to go and reinvent yourself reinvent yourself, reinvent yourself so in a lifetime how many times you gonna reinvent yourself four five times? Maybe he'll live as long as I have so that's hard so here's the problem with most of the photographers they're my buddies that I grew up with they're all selling life insurance what happened to him or doing something different why they couldn't reinvent themselves or didn't see the need for it they said hey I my stuff's great I was rocking in the nineties doesn't matter gotta read it yourself it's hard work getting about that couch now I love watching football my wife actually likes watching football more than I do can you believe that I married a good woman she's a bronco net and actually broncos are doing too bad this year but the point is is in a given year I watch maybe one or two games what am I doing on sunday afternoon out shooting backgrounds out creating images I'm doing something that further my career reeve any myself billy the bodywork don't have time for football I love football I gotta make a sacrifice and so that's what it takes because you got to say ok, am I willing to put my cooks into something and go after it and it's hard work? But this is the real life so people they weren't like say they come to me wine and crying saying how is it possible that you went to the next level because I reinvented myself and they're all waiting for that to happen but they haven't put the time into it, so don't be afraid to do self assignments the value of self assignments you can't survive without doing self assignments you may be shooting commercially everyday, but guess what? Unless you can do self assignment, you're not going one day the phone stopped ringing excuse me because the chances of you building a body of work that fits you as an artist that allows you to go to the next level is generally not going to be in a commercial shoot environment doesn't mean I can't get a polling good shot off and pull something out of a commercial shoot that I'm being paid for but the odds are it's not gonna happen so what that tells me is that when you look at my portfolio about eighty percent of my portfolio is self assignments and so in the old days what I did was I didn't I would do a picture of her client we calm tearsheets pull it laminated put it in the book so I showed a lot of tear sheets maybe someone last this question but and then it gave me credibility, right? Well, this guy shot the cover of this this doesn't add up for that ad for that right? Well, that was good except for art directors wanted to create critique the copy the typeface font all that stuff and they got the photography got lost a lot of times and add ends up not using the photography the way you would probably show case it right so eventually started putting pictures in but I can tell you right now when you're slow right? So you have a seasons we have seasons in photography up and down the best thing could ever happen to you as a photographer is the phone stops ringing dead in the water no work, no client no nothing. What does that do to you? You have to make it this choice to ego self life insurance or do I go on remand myself and I can't tell you right now the best thing that ever happened is you go I got to reinvent myself I'm gonna go out bill's mail somebody itself assignments start bringing models in star cities of backgrounds whatever it is and you start building a body work and then people go well, those are amazing images. Could you shoot for me? I built those on myself because I was dead in the water and I had to reinvent myself. So the power of self assignments are essential. Alright, so let's, talk about trends now, this is hard because it would you like. And I asked us all the time if I had a crystal ball and I said to you that you could in fact, know the future of where photography's going. You know, the trends. Would you like that? Of course. Be wonderful, right? Well, actually, would be ah, bad thing. Because if you played football let's, go back to football. And so just before you go in the field, the coach says we're gonna lose by twenty points. I I know the future. I got the crystal ball, we lose by twenty points. How would you play the game? You're gonna lose right? Or we're gonna win by twenty points. Go out there, we're going, but I got the crystal ball rolling away doesn't take the joy out of a little bit. It kind of does, in fact, when you taped, you taped your football game because you had to work, and then you come back and you don't tell me the score don't tell me the score, I want to go on, watch it, right? Because it's more fun, they live in the moment. So what? You don't want to know the future, and I got something much better than the future are crystal ball, I'm gonna show it to you here in a minute ultimately is impossible to trick predict where the trends are going, but it's not impossible to set them now, I've said this and, you know, even six years ago, when I started to read that might my look today, I wouldn't probably believed that I could actually set a trend in this industry. I wouldn't believe that maybe I could have an impact in my community, but to say, hey, you know what? I have like the joel grimes look, I would never believe that, but the truth is this. Remember I talked about if I go and try to predict where my client all my client wants, I can sort of try to guess and build the bodywork for my client, and I can make a living doing that be successful, but to be a on the top of the run or get out there where you have the tension that you really want we all wanna be is to create a body of work that fits you the artist and so when you do that, you stand out and so here's the beauty of it if I try to chase the trend, you're always one step behind do you want to be one step behind? No, you want to be in the forefront so if you really quick if you're always on cue, you could say, ok, here is the trend and you might try to get close to it, but there's a thousand times better, something better and that is to set the trends. And so how do you set trends? Is it possible that it is possible somebody set him right now? A lot of trans air set not just by individual photographer by, for example, I'm swayed by movie posters I'm swayed by look at the gaming industry pretty edgy looking stuff, isn't it okay, so a lot of what I'm doing and what I like, I like that look, I love that green lady then let sharp lighting stuff, so a lot of it I'm getting swayed by two as I build my look, but but what I'm saying is is don't go and try to chase somebody else's vision as an artist chase your vision as an artist then you build a body of work and people go that's pretty amazing look at what you just did look at all this stuff this is crazy people all the buzz good starts happening right? And so, um be careful when it comes to trying to chase other people's trends or visions do your own and how do you how do you so how do you know? I mean, how do you build a trend it's really simple take all the tools that you have at your fingertips so right now I'm studying and working and experiment with thirty two bit processing the photo shop and I'm now I bought a camera ranger and I can now strobe hdr I'm giving away my secrets here I'm still practicing stro bean a cr and ended up a thirty two bit file now that's the tools at my fingertips right? So now I go okay what khun thirty two bit give me more depth, more tones, more colors and so I'm building a body of work right now with those tools. So I take all the tools that you have today and put it towards your vision and a new tool comes along add it to your vision new tool comes along new technique, attitude, vision and so you're constantly at the forefront of using all the resources you have and that's why there's a creative life is to get you informed on what's happening with two tools but you put it towards your vision and you build a body of work and so people come and go wow look at the depth of that photograph what in the heck did you do thirty two bit where where'd you get that at? Well, I heard about it and I just kind of explored in it I'm here I'm doing it it's not a tool and so that's the beauty of taking all the tools to your words your vision is an artist of building a body of work and so how long's it take to build a body work? Well, I think I not sure if I had the slide um maybe later but it takes about three two five year three year about three years if you're really good maybe two years to build enough work to be able to say this is a brandy, this is a look I can't do it overnight and what's our problem is human beings may let's go back to humanity. Our humanity is that we get sidetracked after about a year, right? We make like john you were talking about how after about a year you kind of move onto something else because we're impatient we don't stick to it now, mary bites said my strength is that I lock on something and I beat it in the ground that's my strength and so so what I was my slide before I think let me see if I can go back one is it possible basically was this if you copy someone you'll blend you're gonna blame you're always chasing someone else's vision you blend how any of you wanna blend I don't plan I want to stand out but if you do your own thing you'll stand out john and I have a friend said to me that you should look at this guy joel crimes his his really good and you do a little bit off his sword so s o and I was not surprised asai been watching you your stuff for years and of course I'm inspired by by you so my stylist inspired but you're not copping when we inspired but when like there's a certain degree off much you can be inspired and how much you could be yourself s o n like everything I do is inspired by so other photographs so it's hard to be unique in that way well no ok so I'm inspired by movie posters I'm inspired by walking in the forest I'm inspired by a song inspired by a little kid running around you know full of life so inspired every day but what happens is often we want to say I want to be that person I wanna be just like joel grimes can't be them jumping ahead my tomorrows talk but so it being inspired is great but take a look at everyone that you know that's kind of like in the industry that's got a lot of attention they all took a risk to be them they took the rest to be themselves and so you say I like that technique you're using but you go out and build the body you know here's the thing um I really don't have any access to sailing I live in phoenix now so if I love sailing I'd have to travel to where the sailboats are right that's a long ways away but don't really have an interest in sailing but someone may have an interested sailing boats old time boats with big you know and they go on a building bodywork of sambo's get up around the morning, go out and find him talk to the people who own him parliament a little co photograph from the fog photograph sailing boats and then you build this bodywork people go oh my god and it's hanging in some big gallery somewhere that's what I mean is you take and build your own thing I like people sports things like that but you can take my look techniques I've done and apply to a lot of things but what you love what hockey or in sweden um they do hockey up there right? Isn't it kind of cold in winter yeah, but there's things you have access I don't have. In fact, you have a lot of water around you, and so you could do a lot of things in with water. I don't have access to that of the desert cactus, so you apply my look to a cactus I'm doing that now more mean, with the portrait and stuff that's. What I mean is taking it in, building it to you, what you love. And so, yes, even if I could zap into you everything that joel graves knows technically, and you set off to do your thing, you could build a whole body of work that doesn't look anything like mine. That's, what I'm saying so, uh, yes, being inspired is great, but do you want a blend? No, you want to stand out so work from your own uniqueness and, um, you could stand out from the crowd, but we are afraid to do that. We're afraid, just go take the risk. That's. The problem.

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!