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The Business of Commercial Photography: The Survival Guide

Lesson 18 of 30

Protecting the Creative & Day of Shoot


The Business of Commercial Photography: The Survival Guide

Lesson 18 of 30

Protecting the Creative & Day of Shoot


Lesson Info

Protecting the Creative & Day of Shoot

We kinda covered this a little bit, but I think protecting the photographer, protecting the creative, this is something that is really important, because again, you wanna be in that creative zone, you need to make sure that people are not coming to you for everything, and that's what the benefit of a lot of these roles are. Everyone has a different role, something else that they're looking out for, and ultimately it should just be your first assistant or producer coming to you and asking you for the really big key questions, or things that you do have to chime in on. But then outside of that, they're probably doing stuff I still don't even know about, but they're taking care of it because they know, in the scope of the project, what needs to get done. We talked about this already, but you shouldn't be doing the heavy lifting, for obvious reasons. You wanna be fresh, and creative, but also, and it's kinda silly, but there are parts of the industry that it's a bit of a game, and you have...

to be aware of that. But when a client is hiring you, they're excited about you, they view you at a certain level, and they wanna be hanging out with you. They don't wanna see you schlepping gear and carrying stuff around. Like you need to make sure that you're, again, hosting the party, and you're spending time with them and you're presenting kind of that brand that they expect from someone that's doing a job of this size. So, for those reasons, and sometimes it's hard. I'm not saying you can't hold the door for someone or things like that, but I don't wanna see anyone carrying in huge heavy cases from the car, or worrying about setting up Craft Services and stuff like that, again, unless literally, you're doing it all on your own, which you may have to for a certain period of time. I had a friend who is way beyond me in terms of his career, and he told me at one point, you need to stop carrying stuff around. He's like, you need to let your crew do that. And I was like, that sounds so egotistical. And he's like, you know, it's not egotistical. I get it, it sounds like that, but it's really important. There's a lot of reasons that play into it. But you need to let your crew do their jobs and you need to do your job, and part of that is being relaxed, and that feels kind of weird sometimes when I'm like, oh, I feel so relaxed and I see all these people working really hard around me. Trust me, you'll be doing some hard work pretty soon, you need to be prepared and mentally fresh for when that happens. So the producer's role, I've mentioned this, I've mentioned a producer a little bit, but a lot of times, again, if you do have a producer, they're gonna be managing everything from the beginning. They're gonna be holding the crew for you, they're gonna maybe ask you who you want them to hold, but they're gonna hold the crew, they're gonna book the crew, they're gonna put the call sheet together, they're gonna put the production calendar together, they're gonna facilitate the casting, get you the casting, and then they're gonna talk to you, you're gonna ask them sometimes, like, hey, I really like this person, and a good producer can be like, I've worked with them before, actually, I don't know if they would be the best for this, or I think actually this other person that you maybe didn't wanna look at at first, they might be worth giving a second look. A producer will give you creative input in that sort of thing as well. They're also gonna say, hey, you know what? I know you mentioned Studio X, but I think Studio Y might actually be worth considering, and I'm like, oh, I hadn't thought about that. So they're gonna be kind of putting all this together with your input, and again, on set a producer's making sure that you're being taken care of, they're making sure that the client's not coming to you constantly and asking questions and stuff like that. They're fielding those questions. They're making sure that, you know, if crew's going overtime, or if we're going overtime, they're letting the client know in advance, hey, just so you know, we're over our limit, we're gonna have to hit some overtime if we don't cut this off soon. Just on and on and on, but the producer is managing everything. They're so indispensable. And so hopefully, eventually, you'll get to a point where you can hire a really good producer and you'll see just how much your production value goes up by doing that. An agent, basically, they're really really involved in working with the client when they first contact about a job. They're working on the numbers and working with you on the treatment, but once the kickoff call happens, the agent's gone, typically. Like, they're out, and now it's you and the producer. The producer steps in, they have all the numbers and everything like that, and they know what needs to get done. If something changed, the scope changed on-set, you know, like I was talking about, and maybe they wanna do something different, then we would maybe bring the agent back in and say okay, numbers are changing, so we need to talk about that and they can come back in, but in general, at that point, your agent is working on other things and they know that you're in good hands with the production team that you have or whether you're doing it yourself.

Class Description

Whether just starting out in the commercial photography industry, or ready for a new chapter in your career, John Keatley shows you how to survive in a competitive field. Known for being innovative, creative and thinking outside the box when it comes to his photography, John applies those same skills into running his business. In this in-depth course, John shares some of the key elements that allow you to be an artist and a business owner. You’ll learn:

  • How to find your style and attract the clients you want
  • How to create a bid
  • The importance of drafting a treatment
  • Estimates and billing for your work
  • Planning and scheduling your production
  • Tips on memorable branding
  • The difference between an Art Director/Agent/Art Buyer
  • Techniques for editing your portfolio

If you’re at the start of your career or ready to expand your client list, this course will be the game changer you need to create a solid foundation for a thriving business.


Bonnie Aunchman

John & Creative Live - Thank you - Best. Class. Ever.! This is a GREAT class! If you are a photographer, this is definitely a MUST GET class, but even if you work with photographers as part of a creative team - you have to take this class. (I'm a Photo Stylist) John covers it ALL in this class - it really, truly is a Survival (Success) Guide. John is so detailed, honest, and generous in his knowledge/experience/wisdom in the commercial photography industry in helping you understand the business and really succeed (& stand out). When I see that John is teaching a class on Creative Live - I'm in! (I have his other valuable courses as well)

a Creativelive Student

I was lucky to be part of the studio audience for this course. John is an awesome teacher and did an outstanding job of making sense of a very difficult side of photography for a creative to understand. He shared his 18+ years of experience, including the good and bad he has gone through. The "special guests" alone are worth the cost of this class. John has an amazing team working beside him behind the scenes. Their perspective on his business was priceless!

Joseph Brewster

John gave an enormous amount of insight and practical advice in this comprehensive course. I really enjoyed a course focused more on commercial and editorial rather than wedding and family, which is more common. Great info and great work all around!

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