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Branding Yourself

Lesson 21 from: Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

21. Branding Yourself

Next Lesson: Pricing

Lesson Info

Branding Yourself

Branding is and here's a brit hairstyle you brand overhears what a brand means uh, we know that one of the best branding uh companies out there well, nike, coca cola, apple, those air brands. So you see something with nike symbol boom it's recognizable all around the world. So brand is for example, if you open a magazine up and you come to an image and you go that's a jeweled grimes image before you saw the credit us joe graham's image that's branding sobre ning is really hard to dio because we're human beings that want to be so diverse and we go here here, here, here so to brand you have to go and pound something into the ground for two, three years, four years, five years, six years, whatever you about, pound it over and over again. And I get a lot of emails from people who say joel another picture with three lights, another sports figure with edgy, you know, stadiums, no streaks, lights in the background. Yes, I'm branding myself and so ah lot of people get jealous of that. But I wo...

uld say that people understand how important it is to beat something into the ground so it becomes synonymous with the person or the company or whatever it is, so brandon is a really hard thing to do but it's possible it's possible and that's what you want to do and that's the importance of brandy. So the best compliment anyone could ever give me where they love my worker hated is when they see it. They know it's mine. Like I said, it's not easy to get there, but as possible so everybody in the room here, we could look, you're working, we recognize it immediately there's other people like trey ratcliffe and people like that that have very distinct look, but in the general populace there flipping through, you know, sports illustrated something, they look and they go, wow, that's fantastic, but they didn't really I don't think they realized that you have a much larger body of work and that you know, these thes people that hire you hired you because of that, but they just know they have like it well, the average person, yeah, but I'm talking about when I'm branding some I have a client that I'm trying to get attention, too, and so as I send my workout to ad agencies, I'm in I'm in, uh at edges, a source book with one hundred fifty photographers in it, and you open it up, you flip the fifth book through and so our director's looking at that every day. And so they come to joel grimes boom last jewel grimes yeah, okay he's got a certain look boom the next person got a certain look and that's that's im brandy not to the masses. Well, maybe you could I mean, I don't I don't know if I had that I mean that's not in the near future but what I'm saying is we do know any liebowitz, right? Wait, we see what she's done and that's brandon's probably the most popular current photographer and our generation and so yeah, you're branding to not just your fellow photographers but your art directors are buyers cos whatever and think about as a wedding photographer, right? So so you're in a small town even and so people are looking at wedding pictures all the time and you know how here's my wedding pictures what? Who was the photographer? Always someone so for sue the word gets out that this photographer does this kind of work and you I want that I want that look all that someone so photographer that's what I mean by brandy is that you are recognized with your work and there's that connection they see you work they know who the photographer is that's brandy and so it's very important to do that to be success well however it takes a risk that's where most of us fail takes a risk or the time to do it all right, so building a body of work let's talk about that building a body of work and we're gonna get to pricing here in a minute. Any questions at this point? Did you have something? We did have one from a little bit earlier than I would actually really love to get to um scotty j says would you mind answering his view on the photography degree? If this skill level is already present isn't beneficial in the marketplace to creative and art directors want to see a degree or does the portfolio speak louder? I ask is a thirty year medically retired firefighter opting into a career to do something else that I love? My imagery rocks and I'm enrolled in school is the time in school well that's a tough one to answer in that number one I wouldn't got a degree in photography now I got it from the fine arts fine arts taught me a lot the one thing that finally taught me that you probably wouldn't get at a school that was labeled a technical school for two photography one of the high end schools is eye to take six semesters of art history that's a lot of our history at the time it was brutal I'm thinking, why don't I take all his art history? Well that paid off because I became more of a student of looking at the past to help shape the future so thus the rembrandt triangle in the baroque renaissance period that's stuck in my mind, things like that. So school gives you opportunities that force you to study things that you may not think that the time is very important. But however you can have a degree and there's a lot of them that you have a really good education that don't make a living in photography. Why is that what we talked about that earlier market is one of them overcome the fear rejects. So here's what I would say if you have the resources to go to school, go to school but my kids I got four boys, my oldest. They all started taking classes, but they got jobs and doing things. And then I want my sons in san francisco doing a repair tech he's actually, just quit. But he's gonna go photography full time now. And so my son's doing video, he we talked about maybe sending him to film school, so I went around. I ask a lot of the film directors, if you had a kid, what would you do? Send him to film school or what? You know, they all said go out and have your kid build a real billa bodywork most important thing you could do and so that's why my son aaron's doing errands very uh in the scene right now he's doing stuff for adobe he's doing those helicopter drone stuff and you get a lot of attention sixty minutes just ran the whole thing on go pro and his summit about thirty seconds of his footage was on there so and but he's out there every day, every day shooting video, building the bodywork and he's doing a really cool thing right now and I wanna get into it but it's really cool with doing some stacking and stuff in video so uh you don't have to go to school to make it, but if you have the resource is do it if it's sarah at your finger tips and you know what? Don't hesitate so I can't say don't go to school, but I've never had an art director a client ask me to see my degree or if I had a degree in photography not once does that help answer that? Absolutely I think that's exactly what the what the people want here goods with this are we good to go let's do it so let's go back to this idea of picking a body of work that you repeat over and over again so I could give you a little story I was just before I kind of reinvented myself with this look I'm at now I was in tucson and I travel a lot, right? So I've been travelling and I have four kids there at home, my wife's at home and over the summer ah, one summer my wife went off to colorado with the kids and I was left at home and a bunch of work to do. And so I was in my house with no kids, no honey do list and so I get my work done in about four o'clock I decided to go do a siri's of strobing cactus, so I went out at four o'clock chase the sun found a cactus, stroked it had this technique just like I do a portrait overpower son make the sun dark darker than it was this before I was doing composites. Well, I did, I just started dabbling a little bit, but, um, before each day art was doing hdr beckton and so every afternoon I go out there for like, two months, month and a half two months. Then when my wife came back, I kept saying, I'm doing this siri's and I killed I'm taking portrait's of cactus well, I went out and did this, I don't know, maybe ninety days, eighty, ninety days I was out in the field shooting cactus strobing I built the body of work and I put it on my website and no, I don't know if you guys know the magazine arizona highways magazine it's very popular has been around a long time it's a very respected magazine and I had doesn't work for them years ago into the book of the navajo and the editor found out I was in town and tucson and he called me up he said we had a portrait uh assignment we would like to give you and I said sure and and so um he said oh, by the way I was looking at your cactus siri's there all black and white right um in this magazine's color basically color magazine and he said um really loved that work and I said great if you love it running and I said that almost like going take it back because I didn't really I never even in ninety days or over four five month period I never once thought arizona highways would be interested in running a black and white siri's of cactus being stroked let him close to their thing and so um let me get going to get back to you on that you're so about three days later he calls me up says guess what? We've been all talking about your cactus siri's here art directors and the editors and stuff and we decided we're gonna run your syriza's portfolio twelve page portfolio in our magazine and not only that we're going to run it we're taking one on the cover and I said we haven't done a black and white cover and fifty years and the last photographer that had a black and white image on the cover arizona highways was ansel adams so think about this I've photographed a siri's of images for me I wanted to hang them on my wall never once thought about arizona highways magazine and so they pick it up right so I broke every rule in the book number one he says this this one image that they want to cover he says that it was square because I shot I shot three frames I shot a left normal and a right and system get a hand stitched him before foot emerged pt gooey all those programs are hand stitched him to get bigger more megapixels because I won't find our print right and so he says to me now is that a handsome lad that you shot it with because he was square because they only loud medium format or four by five on the cover never had a digital on their cover I said I was digital pas digital yeah I said he's well that's kind of a small file isn't it go no I stitched it stitched you know if that wass I said I shoot three pictures and put them all together and get it you know forty make it thirty mega pixel file who never heard of that so and then he said um so it's black and white strollo acid owned by the way it's strobe the cactus or stroke strobe well, this is a purist magazine, right strope nature so I had a black and white strobe stitched and on the cover that they wanted to run I dropped in the sky was there like a composite kind of thing and the cactus was dead center in the middle broke five rules they end up going he goes back to his staff and they talked about it and he said okay, joel not only over gonna run that we are going to make arizona highways magazine every fall I think it's october issue we're gonna call it photo issue dedicated photography the trends and what's going on and we believe you're the future of where photography's going so here's the thing here's my point in all this I took something that was close to me cactus I took the tools that I had stro bean which I did all the long time stitching news brand new at the time while actually kind of knew what I was doing it without even a program um dropping in the sky that's like it's not your purest I broke all the rules it goes on the cover of arizona highways magazine the staff within the year they vote the best cover and best story, and they voted it the best covering best door of the year. They submitted it to a national awards thing for design and won best cover the year all because I did it for me. Not for them. I photographed for me. I want to do what I love. I want to do how I wanted to do it. And I broke five rules to do it. And that's the beauty of because I broke five rules to get there. It got noticed, right? And so we're gonna talk about that tomorrow. But the point is, this is take a subject matter that you can do and repeat it enough time to build a body of work. Do really well, don't worry about breaking rules do for you and you'll get noticed. That's the beauty of what the world we live in, so create a body of work in siri's so if you go to a gallery and you say I'm a fine artist and I would love to have a show in your gallery and they say let's, see your work you got a picture of your cat picture of you, silly vacation, the picture of your grandma picture that there's no siri's there, but if you do a siri's off cats or siri's of sailing or siri's of grandma's or whatever it is you have a greater chance of getting a show so work in siri's so robert do you like babies do you shoot babies radio yeah, not only babies but but yeah but she has a love for babies john do you photograph babies? Not that I know I think when people see you coming they hide their kids but you have a sensitivity toward babies and I love babies and you start to do a series of babies and you build the bodywork with babies and you try to get more creative with babies and you had this great body of work and people go wow unbelievable because you took the time get in something that's close to you your vision, your heart all those things and you build the bodywork so work in siri's a lot better more attention folks I keep pounding us and tend to my kids hit now my boys come to me and they say dad what's the ten things I gotta do to be successful I'm sharing those right now to you ten things twenty thing whatever it is, I'm giving you exactly what to give my kids. In fact I'll probably have my kids by this creative live session uh I'm gonna give you everything I can to help you understand how to succeed work in siri's so my son I spent an hour on the phone last night with my son aaron he's coming this really cool technique with video and I said, erin, the most important thing you could do right now is take that tank technique, beat it into the ground, get out every free moment you have and reap repeated and repeated and repeated, and in six months from now you'll be on sixty minutes again or whatever it is some other show would the good morning america or something, this young kids going out and he's got this thing and then he's going to beat it in the ground and he'll get attention, so don't be afraid to do that, and when someone comes up to you says, oh, another portrait with three lights make make, make me don't listen to that don't listen to the negative of of of people that want you to fail, all right? So again, your work must reflect you as an artist, so much so important for that. All right, so I have a question I ask myself when I do a photograph so I'm getting ready created image got my model, got anything going on and I got this set going to go could I have done this ten years ago? If I could have the chances are that image is gonna be a bore I know there's a lot of people that go and they're gonna shred me on this but the fact is is that if you there's beautiful images that we could look him time when you say there's a class six but the fact is we are bombarded with images that rock today look at landscapes from you look at landscapes that were shot ten years ago and look what's being produced on flicker and all these places today your jaw hit the floor they're amazing last ten years ago landscapes don't even hardly compete with today's because new tools hdr all the stuff that people are doing long exposures due to destry filters dragging a shutter doing all this stuff really cool stuff so you gotta ask yourself could I have done this ten years ago if yes probably and chances are it's gonna be boring so it's a good rule of thumb toe ask yourself that question okay this is important I'm gonna get does anybody have to made us they're gonna throw him at me okay we confiscated them before everyone came in and then we're going to pricing okay so here we go this is so important so if your wedding photographer anybody do weddings here oh yeah okay now when you're doing a wedding for talking a someone comes in and says we want you to our wedding whatever what are the odds that couple is gonna look like a model look like models one percent two percent okay now when a bride to be and I'm a mom commenting look at your portfolio work so you could hire what have they been looking at for the last three months? Magazines and what kind of photography is in the magazines? The best current unbelievable bridal looking photography so they walk in the door and I go we would like you to look at your portfolio to see if we want to hire you for a wedding. You go fat, ugly couple baldheaded double chins, whatever, right? I know I'm gonna get a lot of slack for this, but they're not the models, right? And so they go. All right? We're gonna go look for another photographer's portfolio in their little head. They don't know why, but things just aren't clicking the way they want it. So I tell people this if I wanted to be a wedding photographer, I'm in phoenix let's say I wanted felix I want to take the lead in the phoenix by storm in two years. I could be probably the number one voting photographer in town. How would I do it? I would do self assignments mocking up wedding scenarios, getting beautiful models and gorgeous gowns with good looking guys taking him in good looking locations, find a little country church in the middle of nowhere, have them busting through the doors and I get this unbelievable shot with my strobes nothing lit up and I put my portfolio people go when can I sign on the dotted line now I can't shoot that necessarily you can't have six strobes up when you might but saying sometimes it's hard to repeat that because I want to make sure I'm giving that person that product they need but if that would mark if that couple gives me the time I could do some amazing things with him maybe after their honeymoon we go back but the wedding dress on and go out and shoot some stuff where I can stroke it and all that but the point is is is you want to build a portfolio with good looking subjects so when I will go to do my athletes and I built the body of work with athletes don't go out and get someone that had a double ring around their stomach fat no I got someone that looked like a million dollars get the best looking models you can build work with good looking subjects so I know I'm going to get some slack for this but that's the world we live in and so if you want to be a purist and only photograph people that have double chins and whatever that's okay but you want to be their number one wedding photographer your town you got a mock up he had a mock up and due south assignments create images that just look like a million dollars

Ratings and Reviews


Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!

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