Skip to main content


Lesson 8 from: The Business of Photography

Nigel Barker

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

8. Marketing

Lesson Info


How to actively go after and seek jobs marketing. I literally as I've been talking about it really already, I've already started the marketing talk, really, but it's about promoting yourself in a way where people understand who you are, what you stand for. I look at clients like I looked at Macy's, and I thought this would be a good thing for them. Guess what, like I said I was wrong. But, I still think I was right, as it happens, but I look at companies, okay, Marriott, okay, Art Van. These are companies that I work with. I think that this will be a great idea for you, and often times, whether it's my personal work, and this is my raw series and we're gonna be talkin' about this and shooting this later on today. I might pull out some of you guys and make you some of my models as well. I know, I see a little bit of nerves there, but by communicating your vision to them, by presenting them with the sort of work that you've done, whether it's your charitable work, whether it's your perso...

nal work, whether it's other work that you've done, by showing them what you can do. I did this with Marriott actually, and I didn't wait for them to call me and say, "Well, we like your work." This would be appropriate. That happens of course, and that's great. But if I sat around waiting for every client to come to me, I don't think I would have done half the things that I've done in my career. It's 'cuz I actively went to people, and I'm constantly doing this. I'm online on the internet finding things and going, "Oh, that's an interesting company, "and I wanna work for them" And then thinking what can I do for them. What should I, this would be perfect for that. And having that belief in my own capabilities, all my current work, I'll then go and present it to them. And, that particular series I presented to Marriott and created this advertising campaign for AC Hotels, and helped launch the brand here in the U.S. You can see I'm even in the picture myself. Now I didn't present that as an option. But it happened because it made for a great O. But it was going to them, and telling them, suggesting this idea and concept for them that helped it all come to life. It didn't just sort of, they didn't see me, and go, "Oh, we want this to happen." You need to look at these brands and people you want to work for. Like I said earlier, don't think that you should work for them because your style is like their style. That's okay and they'll probably come and find you then. But you could always go and let them know you're available. But, chances are, they've already got someone. That's why I go and I like to turn things upside down. I'm like, "Yeah, I know you do this, "but how about doing this?" And, they'll either hate or love it or be inspired or maybe come back to you next time. The thing is, you've got to go for it and push the envelope. When you get the job, too, shoot the unexpected. Over-deliver. I've worked for pamela roland now for almost 15 years, 13 years rather. And, from the very first time we shot together, I did things that she hadn't necessarily asked for, the things that I wanted to do, things that I was passionate about. I remember at the time that top shot with a crop through the face, I remembered just taking that one frame and it popped up on the computer and she was back there with one of the designers of the creative team. And they went, "Oh no, wait, Nigel. "We really want full-length, we're selling gowns." "We're selling gowns". And I remember sort of saying, "I know, but I can't resist. "Look at the lower part of the mouth." "I can just feel the tension in the lips, "and her arms are folded, it's kind of sassy, and I love it." Well, that was the picture they ran as the billboard, not the rest, not the gown, not the full-length. And it's because I had sort of taken that risk and pushed that moment versus just doing what I was told. Of course I went and shot the full-length as well, but it's over-delivering, it's surprising them, and also doing it because that's what you're passionate about. And that passion will translate into imagery that works actually. And go for clients that are both big and small. Don't just go, I say that way because I will work for the Marriotts of this world, but I also look for brands that are just starting. Just opening up, that I think, "Oh that's an interesting idea." I loved to work for them, and sometimes I work for free. They can't afford this or repay me for what I would like to be paid. But I have faith in them, and as they grow, hopefully they'll take me with them. That's happened on multiple jobs where I found someone that's interesting and unique opportunity or it's something that I like them, maybe. Or maybe it's the fact that their involved with charity that means something to me, and we've grown as a company together. And there are different business models, too, and this is something may not right for you, all of you right now in your careers, but I'm always looking for ways to make sense of a business deal for me as I'm taking pictures. In this particular instance, this is a company called, Flag and Anthem. They couldn't afford to pay me what I wanted to be paid when they started up. They're actually now doing incredibly well. At a whole bunch of department stores all over the country. But what I said to them was is, "I'll do this, "but I'd like a piece of the company." And I took a stock option in the business to get paid at all. And, partly because I believed in myself that I knew that this would be worth something because I was gonna shoot the campaign, and we're gonna do this, and we're gonna make something special happen. Therefore, I was all in, and it's that kind of commitment, trusting that I can do it, but also wanting to do your best work because you are all in. And I treat all my clients that way. I'm never just half in. If they're not paying me, it doesn't matter. If you agree to do a job, go 150% in, as much as you can. And it'll make a difference. Now, I go from that to this, right? The point here is that, I can turn almost anything into work. And I now work quite regularly for tourist boards all over the world. Partly because I travel and they see my pictures on Instagram, and I was paid by the Thai Tourist Board to go to Thailand and just to basically go on holiday. But it was me presenting it to them, and now I even look countries, and people are doing this all over Instagram. You see people traveling constantly on Instagram. Almost all those people are either being paid by the tourist board, or by hotels, or by businesses to go there and do that in a trade scenario. Trade is a huge aspect in business these days in photography in ways like it never used to be. So don't be afraid of doing that, even asking for those sorts of deals. It may seems unusual, but it's a great way to see the world, a great way to shoot different types of things, and also to be inspired, right? A 100% commitment is what you need, no matter what the job is. And, I see this picture here, and it's obviously not my classic usual thing I'm known for, but this for me, these sorts of shots now, is like a new passion and I didn't even know that was the case. I think that's an interesting thing is that you think that you know who you are, what you want, but you have to always be open to try other things, too. And I've now started shooting these landscape pictures and it's like a whole other world for me. And I look at a horizon like this, and I remember when I shot this picture, thinking like just the emotion, the mood, the feeling, what was happening in the city, the rush of life, and it was that same emotion that I was feeling, and it's become something that now I've being hired to do. And, I could have never gone there. Could never have happened, and that's why I trusted in myself and sort of promoted that aspect of what I can do. Aly Raisman, this is a job I did for Cheribundi, which is a sponsorship job for her. But you may need to sell yourself to get the job, too. And I talk about that because obviously, yeah, you push yourself to get the job, you shoot things that the client might like, but in this particular instance, I went to them and I was like, "I would really love to shoot Aly." I bought as much of the cherry juice as I could. I tried all the flavors. I got my entire family to have it and drink it. So, I was knowledgeable about the product, and I actually went and presented a whole series of ideas to them, and by being fully invested in their brand, they could see my excitement, I got the job. I really believed it was all of those things. It wasn't just because, you know, there are a lot of people who can shoot certain jobs, why you? So, you gotta think outside the box. You gotta over-deliver, I believe. You gotta love what you do, and you gotta allow yourself to be spontaneous. This is a series of pictures I shot of Taylor Swift for Sony, and talk about over-delivering, this particular job, we went in with an idea of shooting this advertising campaign of her and I had her for eight hours that day. She was being paid a fortune to be there, obviously, Taylor Swift, this is an endorsement deal with Sony and I was photographing her for those eight hours, so I shot, and I shot, and I shot, and I shot. So many pictures, they created a book called, "Eight hours with Taylor Swift." And it's a 60 page book. Some of the pages have multiple pictures in it. But it changed the job itself. It went from being packaging and this small promo to being a whole world of pictures, videos, series. I ended up getting one of the longest endorsement deals Sony's ever given anyone as a photographer. I don't work with them anymore, and I've since done other deals with other camera companies, too, but it was because I believed that I over-delivered, that I pushed the envelope, I showed my passion, I showed the capability of the cameras, I showed the possibility of working with Taylor. Everyone there woke up and they said, "Okay, we're gonna change what we were gonna do. "And we're gonna make it bigger and better "because of you and your pictures." So, you've gotta do that, too. Make people believe in you. Final thoughts, right? So, guys, we've got a couple of other classes coming up. We're gonna get practical. We're gonna actually shoot, bring cameras out, light, shoot models, perhaps even shoot you, but I hope from this you've understood that you have to take a risk on yourself. You've gotta believe in yourself. You've got to be confident. Try to find that confidence. You'll see, I hope you've seen just in the way I am, but I'm passionate about what I do. And it's not about being conceited, it's not about thinking you're better than the next photographer or next person, but it's about knowing, you're gonna do your best, and love it. If you truly love what you're doing, it's gonna show.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Raw Beauty Equipment List
Raw Beauty Light Diagram

Ratings and Reviews

Michael Spatola

This is one of my favorite Creative Live classes so far. The storytelling and human interaction parts were my favorites! The ability for Nigel to get such amazing expressions in such a brief time shooting was amazing. Everything he demonstrated seemed almost effortless, and all without a shred of ego. Great class!

Margaret Lovell

Nigel is a wonderfully engaging instructor. I like that he walks his students through his photoshoots. The set ups. How to interact with the models. Even though there are a couple of genres I'm most active in, I appreciate that Nigel says that you can have different photographic interests, so long as you brand yourself properly. I like taking photos of lots of things, although my outdoor photos generate the most interest. I highly recommend all of Nigel's classes.

a Creativelive Student

Passion, personal, inspiring! Nigel, thanks for amazing class and a lot of great advices.

Student Work