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The Pillars of Revenue

Lesson 34 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

The Pillars of Revenue

Lesson 34 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

34. The Pillars of Revenue

Lesson Info

The Pillars of Revenue

Why do you walk us through the pillars of revenue? There's obviously some core ways that photographer could really diversify their earnings can you tell us a little bit about what that might look like? So, you know, obviously these days it's involving market and you gotta you know, I like to say that it's a modern day hustle for surfers out there. Um, first things first you gotta produce an archive of sellable work course that's whatyou content is king. I agree with you on that. Um, you know secondly, you gotta put together your website. You gotta understand your marketing and promotion, you've got to understand how you're going to generate your clients where you're going to generate your client, maybe it's just simply manpower and researching these clients, finding the masthead, reading the individual photo editors in each issue than trying your best to track down that email address. Then, of course, understanding the travel expenses that you're going to occur throughout that process ...

that's a very hefty step and that is honestly only step two after producing an archive of beautiful work that can sell j p that sounds an awful lot like this is actually a business, huh? I think people picture national park photographer is standing on the edge of the grand canyon twenty four seven with the wind blowing through your hair and you know, taking these magnificent photos but what you're describing sounds like starting almost any business would you say that's sort of what applies here? I think a lot of people realized to get that you know one shot of the wolf in yellowstone national park but you may or may not have been camped out in a snow cave for three days not taking any photos but yeah you wanna eat how to pay a rent even though you're not at home you're still paying your rent you're still paying your bills uh my response and I always get any time I get offers sometimes I know early on a lot of photographers get offered trade you know hey, if if you're willing to license us your photo this catalogue we'll trade you in our gear my immediate response is okay, well, why don't we wait? We put my landlord on this call if he's willing to accept your offer rent this month then perhaps you got you play hardball, man I like it. But if it's, my landlord is not willing to take a backpack uh rent this month and going to need to organize a licensing right and negotiate that together um and ian's absolutely correct this is this is a business and you need to have a strategic plan in place you need to have a business model you need to understand each and every individual cost you know, even with social media it takes time to put something on instagram it takes time to post something on facebook it's not a simple is just taking photo on putting it out there of course you want to understand even from the beginning how your perception is being built every single thing that you do is a representation not only do as you could be a representation of your brand as a photographer let's keep going through the pillars of revenue can you take us to that third one and then tell us about those desired outcomes assuming that you got a producer volare cops seldom work, built the website and maybe get a little traction perhaps you'd maybe it's sent out one email promo or at least have some sort of social media campaign going on maybe an email blast you've done a few trips that are kind of within the budget they could afford, you know then there in my opinion it is better to start local star in your own backyard do something that you could do within, you know your own time and your own resource is you know where you grew up it's where you know everybody you know, the people you know, the person to call you know who not to call start with the local assignments, take care of those who are local, start with personal projects do something that you're passionate about in just mentioned a second ago developing a personal style developed that from day one that's something that's going to make you stick out you shouldn't be spending your life savings on that exotic trip all the way around the world to photograph something thinking that's going to be the thing that starts your career it's because this is the accessible place this is this is the back yard and as we've talked about the best images come from the places that you could visit regularly unless you're planning to go halfway around the world every few months or every over a couple weekends you really should not be considering that is the place to begin your career. That trip around the world is after your career is established and you know how to produce a large quantity of images in a short period of time I should be an extension of your career at that point it should not be where it begins. So it's advice we've given and it's good to hear it again and when you think about developing a unique style, you know what do you know most intimately more than anyone else? Probably your own backyard you know I can open any magazine and read about yosemite enough it's published probably every single month depending on where you look but I don't know about the small town outside of portland, maine where there's a you know, a lobsterman who you know obviously you know, builds his own canoes or what may have you start with the local project that you're passionate about that you know intimately because you're going to be the only person that can capture that any unique style that no one else has yeah that's absolutely the case so desired income's going back to our pillars of revenue so I think we we sort of understand it but talk to me talk me through those a little bit okay? So you know you built up the local assignments the personal projects hopefully from there you might have a little bit of experience with licensing whether it's too like a local magazine or local newspaper or maybe national depending on how you get started potentially you do a little gallery sales as well. I do know a lot of people start right at the gate with selling prince whether it's, you know, kind of in their community or, you know, maybe cell into an old friend the desired out, huh? Is that hopefully you're building up to photo in motian cliff licensing and the domestic and international market consistent a sign and switch a diverse local and international client base. One thing that I think you can probably very easily tell throughout ian's workshop is he's mentioned a few of the clients that help helped him start out and where he landed some of his first covers in still works with every single one of those clients to this day, and become the clients of tandem in all of our photographers. The relationship has on lee ever continued to evolve exactly as in continue to service those clients. He helps his other colleagues and photographers round doing. Of course, you know, I mentioned motion clip licensing again. That's gonna be a whole other conversation, but, you know, continuing to push the envelope. You know, obviously you have this diverse body of work that you got your starting to get just assignments, whether it's on a local or national level, but also you want to start looking into the next opportunity, which might be going into video. One thing that comes up a lot in our world, you know, I like to call them the pillars of revenue. It's not just about licensing and landing a photo in a magazine. You gotta have it kind of spread out across multi. You know, a lot of different opportunities. You know, that might include gallery sales, fine art sales, partnering with a local gallery. Or, you know, a gallery somewhere outside of your home town, forced advice he would get is ah, from an investor. When they say, well, where do I put all of my money? They don't say we'll put it all in one stock right? They tell you to diversify some things are more risky something's or less risky that goes to diversify similarly you want to diversify your channels of revenue you don't rely only on gallery sales at least not at first on de special if you're just starting out you don't know which channel is going to be the most successful so why pick one try a little bit of gallery try a little bit of stock try a little bit of assignment if you can get it even if it's small and local try and figure out what works for you and maybe they'll all work for you in some regard you know for me it's a it's a combination of everything from obviously the workshops but also stopped photography assignment photography book publishing, retail greeting cards you name it calendars that just goes on and on and on that is the only way to really make a living is to diversify your opportunities but when you're starting out how do you know what that is? Yeah and say simply do your research in and I often say that the best the best way to understand what selling in the market is to go up the magazine you know open open your eyes, look around looking billboards, pick up products look at the calendar, look att the greeting card, look at the t shirt with a graphic on it that you see at the tourist shop when you're on vacation. There's so the need for content is so vast these days, and I think a lot of people are very single minded in the sense that it's all about landing that cover or landing back campaign when often times there are so many exterior opportunities that might help you build revenue that just simply aren't on your radar, because honestly, you are you are you open your eyes wider, you right? Well, one thing that we've gotten pretty good at it stop licensing, so I want to talk about what does that mean? What is the economy of stock licensing? But before we get into the weeds on that, I just want to stop for a quick second, see if we have any questions from our audience or from our viewers, because I know we're getting away into their way have heads exploding, so making money, this is we have tons and tons of questions coming here. So let me check and see some of the ones that wear that people have been voting on it's the hot stuff, what's the top voter question some of the hot stuff is ok, so what can I expect to make? What can you expect? What can I expect to make to get if I get in a most image published in a magazine what can I expect to make sure if through through stark licensing well, it is a question of what what do you shoot the lies that you need? Yeah trudi you shooting why's that unique what do you expect to make? Everyone wants to say why have fifty photos? How much could I make with fifty photos? What's the answer that well what are those fifty photos off? I know a photographer who has twenty photos that's made literally millions of dollars I know photographers who have thousands of photographs that haven't even made that won't make that in their lifetime is a photographer how unique how how high is the quality? How have you diversified? Have you distributed it in the world of stock photography? There are rates and we'll talk about those rates and walk you through that and say, well I get a quarter page you can expect to get that but everything of course is in relation tio how broad it's used and certainly how popular it is a very popular photograph is going to go farther be seen by maur and ultimately that is what dictates the price of a photograph the larger the audience, the more money you typically would make and we're going to break that down for you but that's a good question. We're going to get really into that excellent, and I guess I'm sorry, I also mean is the image we're going into it. But, you know, most stock agencies, they're pricing models or public. Yeah, you could do research on what they're charging and published on their side. It's. True, if you go to tandem stock dot com and you actually browse the feed, pick any photo, you look at it that's, our public pricing now there's, bulk and volume pricing and all sorts of other things, and we have master licensing agreements with lots of other companies. But generally speaking, that is a good framework from what you could expect to make. So you sit. There is a well editorial up tio one hundred thousand in circulation. This is what I, what a half page will equal and so on and so forth. But of course, magazines have their own pricing in circulation that is specifically geared around their audience. They might be regional, they might be national. And that, of course, all plays into how the prices come about.

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.

Student Work