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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 47 of 48

What About Reps?


Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 47 of 48

What About Reps?


Lesson Info

What About Reps?

One thing I wanna talk about that I don't know a lot about, but I know just enough to be dangerous is reps. With reps there's something you need to know. Everybody who's a photographer in the early stages thinks well if I only had a rep I could get these jobs. Or what I'm just gonna get them, I just need a rep, or an agent. Well that's not necessarily the case. You'll know when you need a rep. You'll need a rep because you'll have so many jobs or so much work, or the production is so large, or the bidding and estimating process has kind of gone beyond your scope, that that's what a rep's really there for. They're there to play the bad cop when you can be the creative. They'll handle all the numbers when you can handle the photos. So it's not necessarily that they can't help you get jobs because they can, they know people. A lot of these reps have large circles. They've had experience dealing with tons of different agencies. So they're great to get your name out there. But at the same t...

ime it's kind of a catch 22. You'll need a, a rep wants you because you can bring new clients and work. Because they're essentially taking 20% of your cut. 20 to 25% of your cut of your photographer's fee for an ad job. So if you're not working and you're just chilling on their website, you're not doing anything for them. At the same time if you're getting a ton of work and you can handle on your own, you also don't need a rep because then they're gonna take 20 to 25% of your income. So it's this delicate balance of at what point do you need a rep because you're getting the jobs, you're getting so many jobs that you can't handle the workload of the invoicing and all that, but also there's that balance of knowing when you need it. And then also they'll usually find you. I do have a rep list that I email out to within Mail Chimp, and those are all reps that I've met with at portfolio reviews and in person, and usually all I say to them is hey this is a bunch of new work I shot. Basically all I want them to do is know I exist so that way if they're thinking oh yeah we have a bunch of clients coming up that do this type of work, maybe we should bring him on board. So I have had a rep in the past and now I don't. Again it's one of those things, right now I kind of wish I did because I have some jobs that I'm balancing that are taking way too much time on the computer. But at the same time when it comes to getting a paycheck on the back-end, I'll be happy I don't have it as long as I can get the job and handle it on the front-end. So there's no harm in letting them know who you are. Like I said, I have an email list. If there's one, on my computer I have about six email lists. I have ad agencies, I have magazines, I have in-house corporate. So that's like big businesses who have their in-house marketing. I have TV and entertainment. So that's like your Netflix, your NBC, CBS. I have something else I can't remember, oh for other countries, European. And then I also have agents. There's only one list out of all those that no one's ever unsubscribed from and I think it's because they get it, and that's the reps. They want to know what you're doing. They don't want to be bombarded with content, but at the same time they kind of appreciate and know the effort because they're sending out those emails too and they're usually the ones who respond to me the most. They'll be like, oh yeah that looks really good, good work on that. So it's one of those lists where I think as long as you're not obnoxious. I want them to know I'm out there but at the same time it's just kind of a me letting them know that this is what I shoot. If you have anything, or you know a lot of people will be like, I've had some phone calls with reps strictly from emailing them who said you know I don't have any room on my roster right now. Because it's a lot of work when you're a rep. You're balancing, if you have 10 photographers and you're the only rep, you're dealing with every single month with the work of 10 photographers doing all the invoicing and bidding and estimating and production. And I've had some people let me know like if you get a job where you need help, reach out to me and we'll just do a one time deal. And that's nice to know because that lets me know if something's beyond the scope of what I can do, they'll handle it. But at the same time I'm on my own. So it's definitely a two-way street there. And the rep is not the end-all to you being a successful photographer. It's not at all. So yeah like I said, reps play the bad cop. They handle all the money. I know from previously being with a rep and a couple of my friends have really great reps. A couple photographer friends. They'll tell me, you know with this job I thought I could only get $10,000, but I let her handle it and she got real serious with the money and all of a sudden I got $18,000 for the shoot. And I didn't even know that money was available. But the rep doesn't care, they're there it's similar to a sports agent or a movie agent. They're there to make the contracts and do those hard deals so that you end up looking all nice and creative. Or whatever it may be. So they kind of take that role. And like I said, they assist with bidding. And the money, and they do have connections and bring legitimacy to larger clients. I've talked to at a portfolio review this was one of the more discouraging things I heard, I was meeting with someone from a major ad agency and I was showing her my portfolio and I said well where do you normally when you're hiring for these types of shoots, where do you normally get photographers? And she said honestly I just, and she named two rep agencies. She's like I just email them and ask who they think would be good for this. So of course other people I told that say that's being lazy, but at the same time that's what she told me so that was a fact that when it comes down to it, sometimes it's just easier when there's a lack of time for people at ad agencies to get on a reputable rep's website and be like oh who shoots automotive photos? Alright well these three guys are it so we'll get a bid from them and that'll work. So it just depends what they're going for. But other agencies really strive to get new talent and new photographers so that's encouraging as well. So it's all a business, it's all how you go about it. The only thing you can do is put your best work out there and your name out there and hopefully they'll hire you.

Class Description


  • Confidently create environmental portraits
  • Light any portrait, indoors or outdoors
  • Compose strong environmental portraits
  • Cull and polish high-end images in post
  • Develop a portfolio and marketing tactics


Create dramatic images anywhere by mastering on-location scouting, planning, lighting, and composition. Join professional photographer Dan Brouillette in a start-to-finish course on the art of environmental portraits. From planning and scouting to post-processing and portfolio building, gain the skills to shoot high-end portraits, anywhere. While designed for environmental portrait work, this class is also for any photographer that wants to create better light, on location.

In this light-intensive course, learn how to craft environmental portraits using photographic lighting techniques working with both natural light and studio lighting equipment. Work with multi-light strobe set-ups and natural window light to turn difficult lighting conditions into beautiful light. Then, learn how to mix natural light and studio lights for dramatic effects that complement the scene. By incorporating light in new and inventive ways, Dan will help you push the boundaries of your portraits and improve your workflow.

Finally, work with culling and post-processing. Learn how to polish images using a combination of Capture One, Photoshop, and Alien Skin software. Then, gain insight into building a portfolio and marketing your work to work in editorial and commercial areas for environmental portraiture.


  • Budding portrait photographers
  • On-location portrait photographers
  • Photographers eager to learn on-location lighting
  • Photographers branching into commercial and editorial work


Capture One 11, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, Alien Skin 2018


Dan Brouillette's high-end editorial style has lead to work with celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Scarlett Johansson. A commercial, editorial and senior photographer based in Nebraska, he's known for giving everyday people the Hollywood look. His previous work as a lighting technician helped him build his signature style using dramatic lighting techniques typically used for commercial work. With an insightful and easy listening teaching style, he helps photographers learn to craft with light.


  1. Class Introduction

    Jump into environmental portraits with an overview of the class. Prep for the class with an overview in this lesson.

  2. Introduction to The Environmental Portrait

    What is an environmental portrait? Environmental portraits tell a story using a single image. Gain insight into the genre in this lesson.

  3. Environmental Portrait Purpose

    Why shoot environmental portraits? Environmental portraits encompass history, story, and personality -- and they are more interesting than plain backgrounds.

  4. Personal Work

    Personal work conveys your unique passion for photography. In this lesson, Dan discusses using personal work -- even for photographers with paying clients -- to avoid burnout and stay true to your passion.

  5. Find Your Process

    Every photographer's workflow may feel a little different. Start finding your own process by brainstorming, planning out personal shoots, scouting locations and more.

  6. Tethering

    Tethering allows your camera to instantly talk to your computer for review during the shoot. In this lesson, learn how tethering can boost your workflow and can help you easily pre-process your images during the shoot.

  7. Purpose For Action Editorial

    Ahead of the live shoot, walk through the purpose of the action editorial shoot in the photo studio. Learn why studio-like shoots are often a requirement.

  8. Prepare for Shoot

    Preparation is key to successful environmental portraits. Master what's essential to the planning process and learn how Dan prepared for the upcoming live shoot.

  9. Action Editorial Process

    Dive into the workflow for an action editorial shoot. Walk through Dan's process for this type of image, from working with the client to delivering the photos and invoicing. Read through an actual editorial assignment from a real magazine and learn how those details spark the planning process, including preparing the dramatic effects from studio lighting.

  10. Set Up Action Editorial Shoot

    Set up for the live shoot, beginning with the tethering software. Go behind the scenes as Dan sets up lights and explains the gear and his vision for the shoot. Work with studio lighting placement, including angles and the height of the light stand. Control strobe lighting with different angles and modifiers.

  11. Shoot: Action Editorial With Athlete

    Begin the live shoot with a test shot to adjust the studio lighting and camera settings. Here, Dan shares his camera settings, like the 1/200 shutter speed and a white balance of around 5500K, then works with the "first layer" of lighting with the key light. Add fill light using a strobe modified with a silver umbrella and an accent rim light. Then, move into action shots.

  12. Studio Portrait Shoot Overview

    Take a brief break from the live shoot and learn why studio shoots are often included to supplement the environmental portraits. Gain an overview of the process before heading back into live shooting.

  13. Shoot: Athletic Studio Portrait

    Set-up the studio portrait using strobe lighting and V-flats with a bright white background. Learn how to manipulate the light to brighten the background without spilling over to the subject using side lighting and "cheats" with V-flats.

  14. Shoot: Manipulate Light to Mimic The Sun

    With the right modifiers and light source, you can mimic natural light with studio lighting. Learn how to create hard light to mimic the sun in the studio.

  15. Shoot: Change Background Color With Light

    Using the same white background, learn how to manipulate the color of the background with light. Remove the lights to create a gray background. Work with several different studio lighting set-ups to manipulate the background color.

  16. Shoot: Create Soft Light with Umbrella

    After working with hard light, work with soft light by using a black and white umbrella with a diffusion sock to light the subject. Set-up the side light to feather on the subject without falling onto the background.

  17. Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

    Working with studio photography lighting is just as much about the shadows as it is the light. Learn how to create intentional shadows using studio equipment.

  18. Shoot: Action Shots In Studio

    Go behind-the-scenes for studio action shots. Watch as Dan works with a handheld light without a light stand to replicate the look of on-camera flash.

  19. Review Images in Capture One

    Review the images from the live studio shoots inside Capture One. Cull photos quickly with keyboard shortcuts and see the results from the live shoot.

  20. Raw Processing

    Move into post-processing by working with the RAW files. Pre-processing with tethering offers a jump start -- learn the process of fine-tuning RAWs and organizing files.

  21. File Handling

    Organizing files helps streamline the process and make invoicing easier. In this lesson, Dan shares his process for sharing and organizing digital images.

  22. Retouching & Color Overview

    Strategize for post-processing in this overview lesson. Learn Dan's process for editing, including finding your style, and working with color.

  23. Retouch Images in Capture One

    Work inside Capture One to perfect the RAW files from the live shoot. Find tricks and tips to working in Capture One, working with exposure, contrast, and basic color temperature.

  24. Retouch Images in Photoshop

    Moving into Adobe Photoshop, remove distracting elements like stray hairs and acne. Work with the patch tool and clone tool to clean up images in Photoshop.

  25. Retouch Images With Presets

    Work with cropping inside Adobe Photoshop. Then, move into Alien Skin to work with presets to work with different colors and dramatic effects. Work with film-inspired presets, then learn how to fine-tune the effect.

  26. Advertising Vs. Editorial

    Editorial work and advertising work have several distinct characteristics. Learn the difference between the two and how to please both types of clients.

  27. Indoor Location Shoot

    Move into the second shoot of the class with an indoor shoot on location. Gain an overview of the goals and process for the shoot.

  28. Indoor Location Shoot Process

    Prepare for the shoot with tips on the process of the environmental portraiture. Work with a checklist and a shot list, then jump into the first in a series of behind-the-scenes videos in an artist's studio.

  29. Get to Know Your Subject

    Understanding your subject helps create unique, authentic images. Learn how to collaborate with the subject. Find the essentials to quickly getting to know the subject.

  30. Test & Frame Your Shot

    With a shot list and understanding the subject, Dan then moves into analyzing the location and the natural light or ambient light that's already in the space. Work with testing the light and framing the composition.

  31. Create Natural Light

    Placing lights where they'd naturally be in the space helps create flattering, dramatic lighting that doesn't look terribly out of place. Work in the shooting space with initial lighting and start shooting.

  32. Natural Light & Alternate Light

    Every portrait doesn't need studio equipment lighting -- work with natural lighting and window light. Alternate lighting can build variety into your environmental portraits.

  33. How to Shoot Indoor Location Portrait

    Along with action-based environmental portraits, a more formal, looking-at-the-camera shot is often part of each shoot. Work with shooting portraits on location, from setting up the studio lighting to composing and getting the shot.

  34. Indoor Shoot Results

    Review the results from the indoor shoot in this lesson. Dan explains everything that went into the shot and why he made some of the decisions that he did.

  35. Outdoor Location Shoot Goals

    In the third shoot of the class, head out to a location with natural light inside a garage and outdoors. Learn how Dan prepared for the session and the goals for the shoot.

  36. Indoor/Outdoor Light Setup

    Work with outdoor and semi-outdoor locations by tackling the lighting. After scouting and settling on a narrative, work with studio lighting tools to create dramatic effects. Go behind-the-scenes for the three light set-up using artificial lighting.

  37. Studio Light On Location

    Mix the natural light with the ambient light in this shoot outside the garage, continuing the third project of the class. Learn why you might use artificial lighting outside and how to mix the sunlight and a studio light kit.

  38. Create Location Portrait

    Work with the location portrait from the third shoot of the class. Learn how to spot locations for the more formal portrait and work with graphic compositions and more dramatic light.

  39. Outdoor Shoot Results

    Take a look at the results from the final shoot. In this lesson, Dan shares his thought process behind creating each shot and why he made the lighting and composition decisions that he did.

  40. Post Processing Overview

    Make a plan to polish the images from the second and third shoots. In this lesson, get an overview of the editing process before jumping into the post-processing.

  41. Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot

    Cull the images from the artist's studio and the garage inside Capture One. Review the images and go through the process of choosing what photos to edit and deliver.

  42. Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot

    Learn how to polish those indoor shots inside Capture One. Work with exposure, contrast, and color with the shots from the artist's studio.

  43. Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

    Work inside Photoshop to remove scuffs and scrapes on the walls and other clean-up tasks. Then, work with files in Alein Skin to color using presets.

  44. Portfolio Management

    Moving into the portfolio and marketing segment, gain insight into building a strong portfolio. Dan shares tips on building a portfolio, from what order to use to choosing what images to include.

  45. Importance of Website

    Websites serve as a first impression of your work. In this lesson, learn the dos and don'ts to building a photography website, like focusing on images and simplifying navigation.

  46. Marketing 101

    Your portfolio doesn't do much good if no one is actually laying eyes on it. Develop strategies to get your work in front of potential clients for editorial and commercial work.

  47. What About Reps?

    Reps work with the numbers while you focus on the photography. Learn the basic pros and cons to working with representatives or agents.

  48. Bring it All Together

    Wrap up the course with a final chat on environmental portrait photography. Once you've built a successful business, remember to take the time to get back to your roots and shoot for yourself.


Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

Tim Hufnagl

to the point, worth every cent. dan is an excellent yet humble photographer not holding back any information on how he achieves is style. also i did not now, that first officer will t. riker was not only serving starfleet, but is an excellent photographer! ;-)