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Initial Contact and Q&A

Lesson 36 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Initial Contact and Q&A

Lesson 36 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

36. Initial Contact and Q&A

Lesson Info

Initial Contact and Q&A

Ready to start reaching out? What else can you do it so let's take a look at that list I think a lot of this kind of touched on I mean, basically the last point just as your body work great good or good enough just simply, you know, simply put, be realistic as to where you're at leave room to grow, start small, you know, think local we're gonna local campaign work on something that you're passionate about, you know, very intimately, you know you're capturing the banner that no one else is and allow yourself time to build into a top notch photographer. Yeah, and I talked about this yesterday where I say don't just compare yourself to yourself, compare yourself to everyone you're going to be up against in that space, everybody here right now if you're thinking of getting in a national park photography, you're going to be up against me in the world of business that's fine, and I'm totally okay with that. We're goingto work together as a community as well, but ultimately a buyer's going to...

look at two photos side by side to make a decision is yours going to be selected? So when you choose to build make a picture of el capitan in yosemite, how does it stack up? Be honest with yourself and know that you're up against everyone at every agency because as we know j p all of the magazines that we work with an ad agencies we work with they don't just on li come to tandem they certainly like coming to us but they goto everywhere to find the best work and they have their little routines just like you know they have like a path that they take of all the agencies that they goto and they ultimately choose the image that fits best to the need that they're looking for so I think it's a really good point and it's worth reiterating again yes and you know these days the tools of research are exceptionally accessible go check out other agencies search the regions that you're capturing starts the activities and actions that you're capturing see how you stack up against the competition and have a realistic understanding of how you might be able to penetrate the market what his initial contact look like let's look at that card and talk about that so did you guys comptel there seems to be a consistent theme throughout a lot of this understand your end goal I know I know people earlier you asked what so be certain list you know obviously is ian mentioned a lot of clients do you send out research list but before you even go to craft that bail or craft that holly about to make understand what your end goal it's is it simply get that klein on the phone is it to get the buyer on the site? You know, when tandem was a very young agency, you know, my biggest date take ole was simply to get our clients on our site because I knew once they got to the site, they would find the beautiful work that's the best in the market that would lead them introduction that they need to go. So my number one, the goal was to just simply get them on the site and getem searching and seeing the work. Maybe you have a personal project. If you want to highlight that that's on your flaw, maybe you simply want to be on your research list. Or maybe you want to build that feedback, but know that before going into it because the more you know what your personal called action is, the more successful you'll be able to your, you know, your pitch will be as an individual, uh, also transitioning to the next one. You know less is more focus on the buyer on you. No need to talk about your year, your recent softball game or your breakfast. The best way I like to connect this is think about any social setting in flight if you're at a party, you go up you and appreciate yourself to someone. My name is john paul harris, then it's a pleasure to meet you don't go! My name is john paul harrison. I must cure hiker, biker runner, jumper swimmer and I think I can serve that's too much hey man dialogue that just a bit also understand what's important to the buyer? Is it budget? Is it quality? Is that the project deadline? Better? You can understand the client's needs, the stronger your pitch will be not try to be everything to everyone is a great point, I think that's a very common mistake. I see that big companies make that mistake, I think all the time it's a very big marketing mistake where they try to be everything everyone and they forget about who therefore audiences they forget about who their core it is if you have nothing but a lot of comic book fans don't forsake the comic book fans because there were your first fans you never won even of your first fans. You want to always keep them happy and then try and add onto it. Don't try and add on to it and think I'm going to get a broader audience and completely forget about my core audience don't be everything, everyone be something to at least someone and the naked that they absolutely love you all the time, so it's a really good point put yourself in the shoes of the buyer they obviously have to pitch your name and your brand on your work with their colleagues get the approval to hire you they need a simple sentence to fit you internally as well if they go to their you know art director or creative director and say hey, we got to talk for who he's landscape but he shoots families but he likes outdoor adventure I think he could do a little bit of all of it I don't really know what project hiring for let's just go with this other person that specializes in these activities that we know we need great so already you know you're losing a leg up by trying to be everything to everyone well j p was got about ten minutes left and I wanna make sure we have time for questions so let's get through specific immeasurable and sort of you know what people can can keep going on that yeah so basically, you know focus on goals that are specific and measurable define the goals on your own terms and identify what success means to you. When I first started my career when I was a college student in burlington, vermont I pumped gas and sold carwash is at a gas station uh not the most exciting I'll be the first to admit it but what I did do is I paid attention to my numbers when I was working so by the end of the summer, I knew that when I was it was my shift I increased carwash sales by twenty percent I increased for gas sales by fifteen percent now that was information that I had to take to my next face to face interview toe let them understand why I was the person for the job and why I was a great sales person, so focus on goals that are specific and memorable to you define what that success means to you as an individual to every single person it's different one thing I asked moshe, all of our photographers is have the ability to name your top five dream percent great point out even thinking and you should know everything about those dream clients too, because if that's what you're working towards like a specific magazine like national parks magazine no every cover they've run for the last three years. All you got to do is go to their website google it know every story they've done don't pitch a story they just ran six months ago you know not only pick your dream clients but know that that's what you're working towards it the old adage of anything of no your goals write them down and then slowly work towards them and the goals vary from everybody but we have contributors whose goal is really just like a if I sell two images ever I'm going to be really, really happy we've other that say this is my life and my living that I'm hoping to make here so saying I just want to be published this year you know that's a very lofty goal but to say I want to be published in national parks magazine that is a goal that you can basically attain and track and follow and ensure that you got there what about focus on today because I want to make sure we have time for some questions because I bet you we got an awful lot of questions on how to make money okay so focus on today I mean we'll go through basically the end the day clients noticed pro activity they noticed laziness create excitement if you start a personal project whether clients paying or not on ly started if you know you can finish it I hear it all the time from clients but they say this one photography never worked with started this personal project I thought was fantastic I followed it for the first two months by the third months they just completely stalled chances are it's because no one paying for it they lost steam understand that you are being watched and that is the value that you replacing on your work um doing a great job for a client today will absolutely get you noticed by flying tomorrow I know a lot of folks do well, I'm working for this local client the rates are terrible I don't really give him my best for because I'm not that passionate about it but I'm waiting for that phone call from the top tier client well that phone calls never going to come because if you can't execute a project with the low tier client why are you going to be the person for the top to your client and you need to understand that and I know that you're approaching each individual project with the exact same passion no matter how small you know large national international that's great you know I like that last point on your list too though I just want to point that one out on their focus on today we bring the card back up yeah so I actually have a good quick story on this one don't be cheap conception marketing ex elections provided answers this's of when you're starting a business right you don't you don't not invest in it you you are going to have to make some sacrifice you're going tohave to invest its just like when I drove the yosemite the first time and took a picture based on what national parks needed I spent money on gas I spent money on food for the day and ultimately I sold something I had to invest in my business it is a business it's like any business there's a very large up front investment probably less over photography than other businesses but still significant on the last yeah well so you know rick story when I was in like tahoe as a sales rep for having these I mentioned all the local lodging partners would send us gifts around the holidays uh one of the local lodges they sent us pens and post it notes that were branded with their lodging properties, logos and all that good stuff these pens and know that post it never worked I wouldn't be on a sales call go to grab a pen to write down a phone number then wouldn't work I'm not first cursing at the pen I'm first thing at the hotel that gave it to me so now just by nature of nickel and dime ing on their promo pieces I had a perceived value that their lodging property wasn't that great because the promo that they gave me we're low quality and it shows just kind of put out a negative feeling in general e I mean that's look, I mean it's it's how it is and I see a lot of photographers when they're doing their invoicing on assignment for instance and they say, well, I'm in charge for my time span uploading well if you're already making thousands of dollars has to be somewhere and it takes you ten or fifteen minutes upload and you leave and you go sit on your back porch ing crack a beer and pet the dog. Well, then I don't know that you even really should be desole charging for that. It should already be built in to your pricing model. You know, you don't want to look like you're nickel and dime ing. You should be pricing the bigger elements in a way that sustain all of the smaller thing zzzz well, now every client is different, too, for a pricing assignments they might want to see a breakdown of travel and expenses and so on. And of course you should in that particular case. But don't try and take little things and think that you're adding or patting your budgets in a way that's effective you, maybe through perception, hurting yourself more than you are helping yourself by finding, you know, same goes with with your website or your email promotion that you might have early on. Of course, it's you know, these days, there's a lot of free resource is out there but know that if you go the route of getting a free website that might not have quite as much functionality is you need it might be a poor perception on your brand, and it might be worthwhile to spend a little bit more of that money up front knowing that you're going to be perceived in a much better life in the market so I'd like to open it up to questions we'll have about ten minutes left or so, and I'm sure there's a lot of them and I'd love to hear what people's thoughts are this was this is really in many ways an introduction to the business of this and understanding the economy of stock licensing and understanding how you build your brand in the way people perceive you. I bet you there's a lot of financial questions certainly I'd love to dig into those and hear what people are wondering so many questions and thank you again t j p for being here it's incredible, so question that came in and that was kind of talk about the website and making sure that it's quality do you? I think that you have tohave a website in order for a stock agents you have you have you have to have a website, you don't have a website you don't have then it's kind of what you and you're just saying with investing j p in yourself I mean, what business does not have a web site at this point it's like not having business cards it's like going to a cocktail party for businesses were going to meet people and you don't have business cards the website is the only way that people can get to know you otherwise you want them going to your facebook feed and looking at what you had for dinner last night, you know, remember they will I assure you they will mean we have had a lot of instances where that has happened for photographers and four people in meetings remember if you're selling something, people were going to do the research on it. So yes, that's an absolute yes, you must have a website whether you're flying to stock agency or a magazine and you guys just raise your hand, let me know if you have a question and so we do have one here in the studio audience should be a membership website type thing or should you have your own individual website? In other words, there would be something like shutterbug slash your name. It doesn't necessarily matter that much I mean ultimately, if you have a personal website that spill and it's beautiful and it really shows the breath of who you are and what you're about, including tear sheets, a portfolio of images, you know, a biography about who you are and a head shot all of those things I think that's great if ultimately all you have is just a euro with the collection of your work and it's, a very large collection and somebody khun go there and really get understanding of who you are is a photographer, then it has achieved its goal ultimately, your sight should really give people an idea of who you are that's the ultimate goal of of that reference exactly it's good as best as you possibly can showcase for your website because I do know a lot of photographer are a lot of clients they find the five timers for new projects based off personal projects they might not put on their block so it might be something that might not be the polio. But then they checked out the logs see thatyou're they're very passionate about farmer's markets and then they might hired shoot campaign, so make sure that it truly reflects not only your best for also do you want to be in park if you want your grand good question here our technological trends that you guys are watching that seems to be driving the demand for any technological trends that are driving the demands for images. That's a great question yes, absolutely one thing that we've really seen and this really gets deep into different pricing models and so on, and we talked a bit about rights managed versus royalty free and rights managed being the rights your images are more closely managed, more closely monitored and not more closely they are where's with royalty free you're selling just based on file size and price and so on like that what we have seen impacting us so we're considered rights managed agency and what we've wave really looking for the higher price point, we control the rights that are distributed so on what we have really seen evolving is there's a lot of sites that deal with very, very rapid sails on rapid news and things like that, and they're using the higher volume of imagery, and but the imagery that they need to use is at a lower price point. Now, that doesn't mean you can't still do it with wright's manager, there is a way to do it in our pricing model, I think, does it? But what we're seeing essentially is people using large volumes of imagery because of the online world, especially that they are getting lower price points, but at the same time you now have, you might only make let's, say, seventy five dollars, for an image, that image that used to sell as a spread in the magazine for seven hundred fifty, we said, well, wow, that's ten times less. That said, the outlay is running ten times, if not twenty times the same amount of imagery than that magazine would've for seven fifty, so it's being compensated with in volume and so that's something we're analyzing, the other thing that I think is evolving and really changing, and j p and I really been analyzing this closely, which is digital distribution through like elsie deal and ellie lcd advertising were you actually panels of things and the work and the ads are changing all the time on dh howto how to monetize that, including mobile devices and sort of emerging technologies in that area. Generally speaking, this is where an agency will really help the other and benefit of working with an agency versus selling your own archive. Everyone should sell their own archive and I think you should represent yourself and will represent your library, but I think again in the spirit of diversification, you probably do want to work with an agency, whether it's, ours or someone else's and no matter what genre photography you're in, I feel like that's important because a lot of clients will work with us big, big software clients and all of those kinds of companies because they're not they don't tow work with one individual photographer and their library of even if it's ten thousand images they instead could work with an agency and a library of hundreds of thousands or millions of images. They get the opportunity work with a thousand photographers with one point of contact versus a thousand photographers and a thousand points of contacts and a thousand new contracts that they need to do and so there's a benefit to each on dso that's why again in the spirit of diversification, I think that's really important so many questions coming in but we're running running out of time so I think before we kind of close out our time here with j p think you so much maybe jake he could give us sort of his final thoughts on what what people ask him the most or what his final thoughts are for people who want to get into the agency world. All right, well, my final thoughts there you know, a little bit more poetic if you will but you know, have fun and be passionate about what you do uh we khun really pick up on energy it's contagious when we know that our passion about the work they're doing passion about the project creating it is contagious toe austin, we feed off the interviews well, whereas if you're coming into it saying, what am I going to earn right out of the gate? That's not the best way to approach this relationship we are artist we're doing this because we love it because passion about it because we want to push the envelope and know that that's, why the space that you're coming from and know that if you follow these passions, you will find success and do that by building your resource is and reaching out building that feedback loop and, uh, you know let's have fun thanks on in where can people contact a p you know what? Check it out tandem stock dot com all over information's there certainly the contributor application process is there as well you know we all communicate you know obviously visiting your facebook were also on facebook facebook dot com slash tandem stock we're also on instagram a tandem stock and we're on twitter at tandem stock cool well that was very, very insightful on the tip of the iceberg I feel like we could do a work up on everything we've talked about well we definitely causes so important and I'm glad we got to cover it we definitely could and again people bring five dot com slash suggest is the place to go where you can let us know what it is that you you want to learn here credible I've and we do our best to make that happen so as we have run out of time can you just give us in your your final thoughts your final words on what what you say to people who might now be overwhelmed we have some some people in here saying my head my mind is now alone I'm a look you gotta start so little bit overwhelmed has to start somewhere you have to start somewhere I think this is the place to start this workshop is that place to start this course the materials we covered the three c's if you will waste covered it from concept to capture to career, and you might not want to do the career aspect. You may want to do a little bit of it, but either way, I think what we've really outlined is everything. You need the tools that you have to go and do when I've done the career I've built there is nothing that has been spared in this presentation from magazine editors teo directors of sales and the agency world two going into the field, into the fog, into the water, up the mountains and everywhere to national parks in washington. It's. Just really the most comprehensive understanding I think you could ever have in the world of photography, and especially our genre, my genre and my passion, which is nature, photography and, obviously, the national parks at its core. So I think this has just been an awesome experience for me. Personally, I can't believe how fast it's gone.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Field Guide to Photographing the American Wilderness
Icons of Nature Keynote
National Park Photography Intro and Setup
Photo Editing Keynote
10 Steps to Processing Perfect Star Trail Images
Business of Photography Keynote
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


I have taken quite a few courses with createlive and this was by far one of the best. Ian is a fantastic teacher and remarkable at describing what he is doing and his thought process clearly. There is so much good information in this course, I definitely plan on buying this class. Not only is Ian a great teacher, but he also seems to genuinely want to help other photographers and see them succeed. You can tell he cares more about seeing good pictures of nature than anything else. I cannot recommend this course enough. Whether you are a beginner who shoots landscape photography as a hobby or a professional who already specializes in landscape photography, this class has something to offer and will expand your skill set. Can't thank Ian enough and I hope he does another course soon.


Ian is a great teacher and it is great when some one who "can do", can also explain how he does it. Clearly, his experience and commitment are why he is good at what he does. There is a lot more to a great photo than getting the camera settings and filters right. Ian did his best to help us understand what to look for when "working the scene" and finding a good composition without distractions. A great course. Thank you, Creative Live and Ian Shive.


Amazing course. Ian Shive is a wonderful teacher, as well as photographer, and it all comes across. I was glued to my computer for the entire 3 days when the class was live, and just had to purchase it so I don't lose any of it. The bonus materials alone are worth the purchase price. I've got a trip coming up soon and will have the opportunity to put some of what Ian said into practice; and love that I can have it with me on my portable devices so I can refresh my memory and reinforce it all. Great to have on a long plane ride. If you are on the fence, get off that fence and go purchase this great course!!! You won't be sorry. My thanks to CreativeLive, and Ian Shive for giving us this wonderful opportunity to not only learn, but to actually be in the field with Ian.

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