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The Business of Photography

Lesson 7 of 22

Personal Work

Nigel Barker

The Business of Photography

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

7. Personal Work


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:12:46
2 The Early Years Duration:24:31
4 Developing Your Style Duration:12:57
5 Creating Your Brand Duration:11:03
6 Confidence Duration:11:20
7 Personal Work Duration:08:21
8 Marketing Duration:12:14
10 Side Lighting Duration:08:30
11 Hollywood Lighting Duration:10:27
12 Dancer Lighting Duration:08:50
13 Editorial Lighting Duration:09:06
14 Tunnel of Light Duration:12:24
15 Back Light Duration:06:09
16 Image Review Duration:06:03
18 Connection Duration:09:31
19 Provoking Reaction Duration:11:11
21 Raw Series - Image Review Duration:08:57
22 Image Critique Duration:1:01:29

Lesson Info

Personal Work

Personal work. Now, this is something that I talk about all the time because... If you don't, if you're not really, I'm talking about passion, I'm talking about being inspired. If you're just out there working, working working working, doing whatever people tell you to do, you're probably gonna lose that inspiration. You might lose it. I'm always shooting personal work. And I've shot my wife and her twin sister, who are known as the Chin Twins, now for almost 25 years. And we started four years ago this... Instagram project, actually, of them doing yoga. They created an Instagram account called @chintwins and I photograph them on a regular basis, almost every day, actually, I photograph them. And certainly they post every day, all these different pictures, these different poses. It's fantastic for me because I'm so inspired by them, and it's something I want to do. We're not getting paid to do it, it's personal work. You create your best work. But interesting thing is when you do these...

personal projects and you build up these sort of series or portfolios of a certain look and a certain style that means something to you, guess what happens. Nine times out of 10, someone hires me to do it. And I get more work from shooting personal work than I do from anything else. Whether it's the nude series or the pregnant series or the raw series that I'll talk about, or shooting my wife and her sister for the @chintwins, when people see the passion in your work, and they go to your website or they go to your Instagram and they see what you've done, and they're like, every time people are like, "Oh, we really love this series". And in a way, shooting for a magazine like an editorial is that kind of thing 'cause most editorials that I do I have some creative freedom. Not all photographers have the opportunity to shoot editorials in magazines. But you do have the opportunity to shoot personal work. And that's why it's so vital to think of these big projects that are personal to you and shoot them simultaneously throughout your career. Think of it as a book, think of it as a gallery, it doesn't matter if that doesn't happen. But one, you're honing your eye; two, you're developing your style; and three, people will be like, "Huh, I like that. I wanna book you for that." So, New York City. This is again personal work. I love New York. I'm passionate about the city. I'm not a landscape photographer, necessarily. Obviously not. I'm a portrait fashion photographer, that's how I describe myself. But I'm a photographer. And I like shooting everything. And every day I've lived in that city, 20-odd years, I'm shooting things constantly. I have the camera in my bag, no matter where I go, I have a camera. In fact, right now I don't have one on me. I feel a little naked. But literally, I'm constantly taking pictures. And I built up this body of work. And it's my own. Pictures that I love, things that inspire me. The interesting thing is yes, I sell some of these prints now. But... By being inspired by everything, the sort of small minuter of things and the time of the day, things that move you, things that are important to you. What I did is I created this whole body of work. And I had never any idea as I was doing it, that I would then be able to do something with it. There wasn't necessarily a grand plan. But going forward now, I often think of that when I'm doing things. I'm like, "Ooh, perhaps this could be something." 'Cause I know now how much work I get off personal work. But whether I get, or someone asks me to do something, is one thing. What I have done for the past 15 years is never waited to be hired. I don't wait for the phone to ring. I don't hope that someone's gonna like my work. I've always been very active in going and getting the work. Going to clients and saying, "Don't you think this might be "a good idea for your campaign? "I think, this is what you've done XYZ so far, "not that I fit in to what you currently do, "because there's no point doing that." You need to go to them and say, "I think this is what you should be doing. "I think this is what you could be doing. "I would like to work with you because I think this would be a great idea." And presenting that. Now if you're shooting personal work and you have ideas, you can do that kind of thing, and I decided after 20 years that I wanted to do something with my pictures and I actually... Presented my work to Macy's. Now this was a deck, what I'm about to show you, that I presented to Macy's with my photos, and I suggested doing a store inside of Macy's with New York pictures. And I showed what it would look like if I created skateboards, I showed what it would look like if I put my pictures on chocolates, and stands, and we did all this layout at my actual office. What apparel would look like, shirts and, just layering the imagery onto the things to give people an idea of where it would be. And there I am at Macy's talking to them all, explaining how the pictures could work, hoping to spark some interest, hoping to create an idea. On bags, my New York photography printed and sold as framed artwork, I even had the audacity to say, how about a photobooth? Studio NB: Nigel Barker photobooth in Macy's, wrapped in New York, a New York-themed thing. Well, sadly, I didn't get the job. They didn't bite. But I did get to do a lot of the things I thought of doing. Because by doing it, by pushing it, I thought to myself, I'm gonna make this happen. I went to and got a deal to make my prints, and sell my prints. I went to Shut NYC, the first skateboard company in New York City, and the oldest one, and did a collaboration deal putting my pictures on the skateboards. I actually created a fragrance, Nigel Barker fragrance, and it's all inspired by New York-themed, inspired, say hey, if you wanna go and smell that Times Square, you can. I'm not sure that you'd really want to, but you can. But it was a different way of finding work, and it got my work out there. And there are ways. By being sort of entrepreneurial, by really taking things to the next level, when I started photography, actually, even as a model, the photographers inspired me. There were photographers that didn't just take pictures, but also took risks. One of the photographers is a guy called Foray, and he opened a whole series of photo studios, starting with one, and then got into the photo studio business. And it was a way that he turned something, just being a photographer, into really being an entrepreneur and he ended up buying an island and an airline and had his own clothing line and everything else. But it was partly because he took risks and believed in himself. So I've always been inspired by people like that. A guy called Peter Arnell took out all the billboard space down Houston Street in New York, which separates SoHo from sort of Chelsea, and people wanted to advertise there. They had to pay for either him or his ad agency to have those ads in those spaces. So he was getting the job to shoot the jobs, because he owned the best space in town. It was like a brilliant idea. Who would ever think of that? I'm gonna buy that billboard, and you want to advertise there, I have to shoot it. It's like, wow, that's novel. But it's that kind of entrepreneurial spirit that I'm thinking okay, thinking outside the box. I'm gonna go to Macy's, I'm gonna promote all these ideas, it didn't work, but I still did a whole bunch of other things around it that did work. And by the way, I got my own photobooth. So there, I thought that was the most outrageous idea ever, and I did it, and... Why not?

Class Description

“Think Big, Dream Bigger” - that’s the philosophy that internationally renowned photographer Nigel Barker has lived by his whole career. Join Nigel on CreativeLive as he shares how to make your dreams become reality.

Nigel will discuss his journey as a photographer and will teach through the moments that he learned from that ultimately led to his success. From developing your style, creating a brand, owning your confidence and going after and getting jobs, Nigel will help you become a successful photographer while still being yourself. In the class you’ll learn how to:

  • Create your brand by establishing who you are
  • Present yourself to the client so that they understand your style and abilities
  • Build a library of work for marketing your business
  • Use lighting to create emotion
  • Connect with your models and break the wall of posing

Be a fly on the wall as Nigel does a live shoot and shares his knowledge about equipment, environment, and how to work with models. And he’ll end the day with a live critique and discuss the best ways to use your images to present yourself to your clients and customers. By the end of this class, you’ll have the tools to set yourself up for success.


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.