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How to Be a Commercial Photographer

Lesson 5 of 34

Establishing Your Brand

Rob Grimm, Gary Martin, Aaron Nace

How to Be a Commercial Photographer

Rob Grimm, Gary Martin, Aaron Nace

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Lesson Info

5. Establishing Your Brand

Lesson Info

Establishing Your Brand

This one is a big one we're gonna go into establishing your brand and in fact this whole segment is pretty big uh there's a ton of information we're gonna kind of talk through it I think we're gonna make our keynote available to everybody out there and everybody in here just because there's so much stuff to talk about so we're going to touch on it and kind of keep moving and we're gonna bring out my rap leslie a bit so establishing your brand I said this in the first first segment first and foremost don't rush it takes a lot of time one of things that's really critical don't understand is your experience shows through your images your ability to handle a job, your ability to craft lighting your ability to sculpt and to compose shows through your images so don't be afraid to take your time you're gonna have a first portfolio, you're gonna have a second portfolio, you're gonna have a third portfolio some of those images may make it some of them won't but don't don't rush this this is a p...

rocess that just cannot happen overnight and like I said before it feels like it should because everything is so fast now and you know it's digital it's the interwebs it's like bang bang bang but there is no substitute for experience there is no substitute for knowledge and it is very clear uh in an image and and wraps will tell you that particular leslie she's gonna tell you look experience you shows in an image or not and don't just rush establishing your brand don't rush the image spend a week thinking about one image don't just hire someone to come in are a model and expect to get you know fifteen to twenty good photos that are gonna be in your book spend a lot of time on every single little detail what they're wearing uh hairstylist finding the right person uh it's it's important that you don't rush any of the details not just establishing yourself and getting in the industry but spend a ton of time on one image you know that old cliche phrase you know god is in the details it's true, you know the details are very important and art directors, designers uh ad agencies they see the details and more importantly, they see when the details are missed those air really glaring when when you blown something they say it so all right to find your passion passion I think is probably the most over you overused word in the world particular when it comes to art but to find what it is you really love to do in photography and build on that go after that book if it's food start shooting food and build on that don't suddenly throw in four pictures of kids and two pictures of landscapes and stuff into your book if you really want to shoot food that's what you need to concentrate on shooting food may lead you somewhere else but you have to have that core basis that foundation that's gonna get you your initial work those jobs will start to roll and you'll be known for something else great examples corey rich who is only just a few weeks ago a few months ago and he was talking about when he started he was doing all climbing images that was his thing he was a climber he had cameras dangling off of them while he's on ropes photographing one cover of climbing magazine after the next all that exploded form with other adventure type you know photography because he had that core basis he had he showed that he was proficient in photographing one thing or one subject very, very well and it has led him going to other poisons that's the mark of a sexual successful photographer when you really build a core basis of your portfolio it will allow clients to give you a little bit of reading room and let them take a risk on you in another area and your business will grow that way to find your strengths I think it's really important you know what you're good at like I figured out very early that I was good glass I have a propensity for glass I understand that bottles even though one bud light bottle is made right after the next in the same mould they're all blown and molds one after the next they vary the property of glass varies and very quickly somehow just that kind of clicked in my head and I played on that strength beverage became my number one vehicle for taking him in ages and it was really critical for me to recognize that build on it and then let it go somewhere else it's tough when you're a photographer because you want to photograph everything there's so much stuff that catches your eye and you just want to do so much and there's no reason why you can't photograph everything because there's so much that you see and want to compose and you're you know, just beauty everywhere whatever, um find out what your strengths are really think about that and build on it, right? Absolutely right so, uh don't copy innovate what do you guys think we mean here? Anyone I always say we don't copy we are inspired by whom like that? Yeah, yeah that's true, I think it's really important to look at other photographers and see what they do that is inspiring to you but do it in your own way innovate somehow come up with a style that is uniquely yours um there are a lot of us to do the same thing like one of my signatures is very shallow depth of field I shoot everything you know things are kind of soft um obviously not with a splash when you've got liquid emotion that has to be pretty sharp but that is one of the defining things for me and I found different ways to make soft focus a little bit unique for me from my portfolio that's what you need to do be inspired by somebody but uh make it your own it's going to give you a signature style and people are gonna come to you for that they want to know what sets you apart from somebody else so when you pair it your strength with innovating it in a new way you're gonna be gold I think it's important that copy and absolutely is probably going to be important in the very early stages just to to know how to do that and to see that workflow but in terms of presenting your work if it's just a copy of someone else's probably not gonna be as good and is just gonna be another uh copy one thing mark katzman a photographer I worked with for a long time told me I had you know, college book that had a lot of architectural stuff in it and when I was first going towards was, you know, graffitied walls and stuff like that and mark said, stop photographing and other people's aren't make your own and I think that's something really to get in your head it's kind of easy to see something out there that's already artful and to photograph it it's harder to make it yourself and that's what you need to do is a commercial photographer you've got to make art, you've got to make your art, you've got to sell your art so that you can now make art for clients on that clock. So think about that so once you make that are in that body work curate cura cura cura absolutely once you've made your first portfolio it's really good to look at it and see how you can grow where you can pull things out that are too strong as your strongest images and put in new, stronger ones. It is a constant building process. You constantly have to be making better images than you made yesterday. Um and one of the ways to do that is to really curate your book look at it, talk with other people. Other photographers asked them for their opinions asked. You know, if you have access to a rap, even if you're not repped by them, if they're willing to spend some time with you to look at your book and give you some suggestions that's a great thing to do networking again with people in a skimpy and that kind of stuff, where they can look at your book and help you kind of call it down. It's really easy to do two things and photography one it's easy to fall in love with your images and two it's really easy to fall in hate with your, which is not long after you shoot them. You got that's so awesome not long after that you hate it, that's the nature of being an artist, you lose perspective very quickly. I think that's part of the challenge of growing as a commercial photographer and as an artist is maintaining perspective. So it's, really important, I think to curate and look at your work and have input from other people. I will say take that that with a grain of salt, you know, one person will tell you that your stuff is awesome and another person will tell you stuff stinks, you've got to take it with a grain of salt. Be true to yourself. Uh, this one things just really difficult about her business. When you go into portfolio showing, somebody can think, you know my images of the bee's knees and somebody else's like this guy's way off the mark, I don't like work at all can't take it personally, you have to try to learn from you know what? They're liking, what? They're not liking, what they're reacting to. You have to try to learn from that and go out and make your next image based on where you think you could go with it, make sense. All right, when we mean by one bad image. Well, one bad image could be a tough thing. Um, my wife is a creative director and very office. She gets lots of emails from people, you know, showing hey, here's what I can do, and she will forward them to me going can you believe how horrible is? Is there a lot of people that just put something out there? Um, you've got to think about this. This is your first impression on people write your first impression on your potential clients, and it has to be a repeated than impression, so you've got to build, build, build you have to get in front of somebody for five, six times before they're even going to really take a look at you if you slip a bad image in there, you've said yourself in a tailspin. Uh, so you got to know your audience, you've got to know your strengths, you've got a curate your book, and you've got to put your best foot forward. If you put something like I said that what goes in a completely different direction if I'm a food photographer and suddenly I start sending my clients or my potential coins emails that have uh, images of kitty's in them they're gonna wonder what I'm doing you know, I've strayed from my from my strengths I've put in an image it might be okay it might be awful but it's gonna leave a negative impression on that you definitely don't want that bad image to slip in there how do you get past the part of bad? Because they friends if you talk to six different people and each one has a cordon called bad image of what right you may have in your portfolio again this is something that you have to take with a grain of salt I think that you will know what a bad images um you should at least uh and that's something that you've got a look at your book and say is everything in here as strong as it can be it is not pull it I'd rather see ten good images than a book that has ten good images five okay images and five that are not there because the ones that were starting to be weak they're going to drag the other stuff down and that's not where you want to be all right so relationship based we've kind of gone over that um and you know, being better at business than photography hands down this businesses relationship based I just can't I can't stress that enough it's all about building relationships, building trust letting people know that you can handle what they're assigning you to do and the dollars that they've assigned you to do it so it's just a constant relationship battle you've gotta build build build I've been in this business twenty years I'm now going into a new market where I've opened the studio in chicago and I'm rebuilding myself I'm building all new relationships it doesn't stop I can't imagine that I'm going to stop building relationships until I hang up you know hang up the hat and close the studio door it's a constant building process um become a better businessman really critical no your money uh it's a really bad idea that I think okay hey you know what? I just made two grand on this job so I'm gonna go out and I'm a spent eighteen hundred dollars on this lens that that's awesome I can I can buy that lends it only gives you two hundred bucks to do other stuff uh be smart about your money I know what it costs for you to do business uh know what it cost for you to open your door basically, you know, I mean you don't wantto work um where you're spinning your wheels and you're not making enough money and be smart about saving dough, you've got to be good about that because as I said before, the business ebbs and flows and were you in those low periods, you've gotta have money or access to money in order to get through it. S oh, definitely become a better businessman than you are in a photographer in that sense, there's some really talented photographers who cannot make it because they're awful businessmen, they just they they don't cut it and it's terrible because they have a lot of talent. So so how different is the lingo for someone that is maybe a portrait based or wedding based photographer that wants to go into commercial very different and one of things that's important is to definitely learn your lingo. Clients have their own set of lingo, art directors, agencies they may call you up and say okay, we need this project shot and we need it for fc well what's nfs I emphasize a freestanding insert which means it's a coupon in the newspaper, right so there's a whole set of languages that goes with photography. I mean, obviously we have our own set of languages for c stands and gobo is in all kinds of stuff and the same is true for you our clients they have different uses for an ad, it goes in different places, and they have their own set of lingo. So it's, good to be able to talk with an art director and kind of know what they're doing and what they're usages in terms of where it's going to be. So you get a sense of their lingo so you can speak intelligently about project. Keep in mind you never just want to shake your head and say, uh, yeah, I could do that. Um, I mean, you want to put yourself out there, you want to take risks, but you want to know what you're talking about. If you haven't asked the right questions, you could come off like a buffoon if you don't know what, you know what you're really doing. I know you were talking about known the lingo, but because I'm pretty sure I did some time in the military, so they're acronyms for everything that we actually had a manual that told us what these acronyms were. Is there something out there that may be you know, you guys may have, like, in a file somewhere that kind of tells new people, you know what? We could put one together, we could definitely put a little pdf together and put that up. As well on stuff that's in the business I can't think of a place right now we might be able tomorrow's gonna be a great opportunity to ask a question to a creative director so if you guys want to know more about the rolls um in an agency like that tomorrow is gonna be an awesome day for questions I could also do an internet search I'd love to know what's out there too because I don't there should be a wealth of information but you know I don't hesitate to ask my clients if they're saying hey, we need this for x y and z and they say we need you know we're gonna need f s eyes and I don't know what enough s I is I am not afraid to ask I think that's really important you know ask what you don't know about portfolios showings how often do you do those uh you know I would love to say I do them all the time the reality is you can't do them all the time you have to come in with fresh work and it's very hard to get in front of art buyer is an art director and creative directors this is where wrapped really comes in handy but repp isn't necessary particularly when you're building your business uh you want to call your local ad agencies and design firms and find out who at that place is in charge of looking at work and set up an appointment bring cookies bring doughnuts bring some sort of a sweet bribe it's justa must you gotta have a sweet treat when you go in for a portfolio showing uh get people down to comes to your work really you can only kind of hit an agency about once a year that sounds crazy and it sounds very frustrating you wantto like constantly be in front of people but you can't there's so many photographers out there they have a job to do as an art buyer and there's an art director they can't take all the time just to review portfolios and they don't want to see the same book that you came in with last year my book grows stuff comes out I don't completely wipe it clean you know I'm at a point in my career where I'm not wiping it clean every six months and coming with new stuff but every time I have a new round of portfolio showings you better believe I've got new images in there and I've got a lot of them loaded in the front that air new leaders and other ones are good reminders like oh yeah I remember this image this was good uh so again I'm putting my best stuff in there I'm keeping those really strong images in their and its repetition it's reminders but when we do have the opportunity to get back in front of uh, you know, an art buyer, whether it's annually or maybe semi annually we going with fresh work and last but not least, maybe the most important. Yeah, well, this you know, this kind of goes back to where we were before with the defining your passion and knowing your strengths and that's that's to find your niche. I know what you're doing, I'll use cori again is an example. He knew his niche was in doing climbing photography. He knew it, and he really focused on that. That was his emphasis. Mine was bottles I cut my teeth on photographing jack daniels. That was one of my first clients, and I really cut my teeth on doing bottle work and cocktails and that's what I folk is on and it allowed me to go in other markets, but in knowing that my research to the clients where I looked at other photographers who were doing great work on bottles and cocktails and I looked at brands that you know, I wasn't working on a wish, you know, they're still brands I'd love to work on my salad eight when I see him, I'm like ball. Why did I not get the opportunity to shoot that it's so juicy and yummy, so to find what it is you want to do and really taylor all of your work towards that

Class Description

Ready to break into the commercial photography business, but unsure of where to start? Rob Grimm and Gary Martin will help you navigate the ins and outs of the industry by delivering expert advice on an entire gamut of subjects –– from marketing, to shooting, to branding, and location scouting.

Rob and Gary’s workshop will be your personal guide to every single aspect of commercial photography. You'll learn how to set a budget, advertise your brand, and build your portfolio and client base. These two seasoned pros will also share invaluable technical tips on shooting and retouching.

This course is a one-stop shop for all the tools and skills needed to build a commercial photography portfolio and find your niche in the industry!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase



Free Bonus Materials

Digital Swag Bag.pdf

Day 1 Presentation Slides.pdf

Day 2 Presentation Slides.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

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I have gratefully been watching this tutorial for free online, and as always CreativeLIVE has done an awesome job in bringing one of the best instructors of the trade and his creative team to help us improve and enjoy a higher level of understanding and performance in the skills we would like to achieve. I am humbled as always and ever so grateful. I would love to purchase the course myself, but since I live abroad, it is practically impossible, I hope those who can, would. I would just like to add one of the most interesting things I have learnt from this course is the careful attention these guys are paying to minute details and the amount of patience it takes to achieve their goals in each project. Stay inspiring, Totoo in China


Outstanding course! I'm a former creative director, now photographer full time and have had the unique experience working with studio photographers for commercial products in the past. This course is right on and very close to my experiences, and now that I'm behind the camera, it's nice to see some of those trade secrets revealed. Commercial work is fussy and you often have to sweat the details, but the results can be astonishing and rewarding. Rob and Gary do an excellent job explaining the ins and outs, without any pretention or hold-back on secrets. Something that's always annoyed me in the past, photographers never liked revealing their process. It's great fun watching Rob and Gary work a shoot, and Aaron Nace is beyond amazing in his retouching skills. I don't expect to break into this field, but I wanted to learn how things are done, for my own personal projects. I particularly enjoyed learning how they get the look of ice, ice crystals, and frost on the sides of glass bottles. I purchased several items from Trengrove, as they suggested. Their acrylic products are not cheap, but the quality is amazing and I'm very pleased and looking forward to experimenting. Thanks to all at Creative Live, RGG studios and Aaron Nace for this presentation.

Doors of Imagination Photography

This course is outstanding. I would consider it an advanced level. Having a good understanding of the technical aspects of photography and lighting is recommended. Rob Grimm takes you into two real product shoots. These were not canned demonstrations, but the real thing including working to get the lighting setup just right. The postproduction section with Aaron Nace was enlightening. This does require a good preliminary understanding of Photoshop. It was amazing to watch them build the final images for the client in real time. This is by far my favorite course to date.