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How to Be a Commercial Photographer

Lesson 6 of 34

The Commercial Industry

Rob Grimm, Gary Martin, Aaron Nace

How to Be a Commercial Photographer

Rob Grimm, Gary Martin, Aaron Nace

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Lesson Info

6. The Commercial Industry


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2 Class Introduction Duration:26:47
5 Establishing Your Brand Duration:16:40
6 The Commercial Industry Duration:09:15
7 Anatomy of a Photo Shoot Duration:30:08

Lesson Info

The Commercial Industry

All right, what's the difference between taking a photo and actually making yeah there's a huge difference huge difference so it's kind of funny I run into people on time and you start a conversation and they said, what do you do? I'm like a photographer like oh yeah I take pictures I don't take pictures, I make pictures and there's a huge difference, you know, to me taking pictures is snapshots I take pictures of my daughters all the time I take pictures of, you know, the incredible clouds that I see out the window of an airplane or great cityscape, but for my clients I make pictures and the difference is I take the time to understand their brand message. I take the time to understand what the art directors with the creative directors with the ad agency wants to do with this brand, how they want to elevate it, how they want to increase sales. I take the time to figure out how I can best pull this job off. How am I going to make this work for them? So it's a huge process of planning, t...

hinking, pulling the peaceful pieces of the puzzle together and really making that image and then again, when I finally get on set, I'm sculpting that light I'm working with my life modifiers I'm figuring out how these things you know what is sculptural about this object and how to really bring it out so I'm taking the time to make an object I am not make a make a photograph I am not taking a picture to me photographers don't take pictures that is not what we do we make pictures big difference that you can quote me on it alright capturing emotion versus creating emotion this is one of the I think the most difficult things for commercial food and beverage still life product photographers emotion sells emotion engages you when you see a picture um you know you think about going back in history you think about the warrant thorn images that were on the cover of life magazine or time magazine you know world war two people coming back and finally being home you know the tears the emotion of wrinkles on somebody's face their hair color what they're wearing it kind of it's an instant grab it instantly grabs your attention photographing a bottle is very different where's the emotion in bottle and let's face it it's emotion that engages and when you're engaged you sell when you're engaged you want toe by so I think my biggest task is to create a mood is to create emotion to create a feeling that people like want that man that looks good suddenly I want chocolate I want chocolate and raspberry is right now and a minute ago I didn't want that if I, if I'm able to do that, if I'm able to evoke that emotion in you, then I want I've sold you are at least I've got my foot in the door. So that's what I mean by capturing emotion versus creating motion? And I think it's really difficult for still life for product photographers is much easier when you're photographing and bride you know, you see the tears in her mother's eyes or something that that emotion is right there it's hard not to see it, it is impossible not to see it it's harder to create it with a bottle of tanks. Seven but you have to create the environment you have to create that move that that's salivation like, oh you taste buds are starting to tingle some that's, another big thing what we do, here's your favorite saying this is my favorite saying this is this is one of my favorite quotes of all time forced spontaneity. So I will tell you I spent a lot of time making things look like they just happened like that plate of pasta just happened like that. Yogurt just all of a sudden came swirling down that's probably the single most difficult photograph I've ever taken in my career, it was a bear soft serve isn't solid it's soft, it's, mushy that's actually the real product uh it took myself and the best food stylist in the country for ice cream a guy named mira dar it took us two days to test this out and figure out how to do it way had to use the real product we had to turn something that's basically mushy and kind of liquidy into a solid not damage it but also make it look like it just happened it's just these things are just spiraling down you know the strawberries and blackberries you're just kind of falling down hopefully in all of you that's that's making you go and I want that you know again I've created that emotion I've created that desire I've created that sense of want in you uh but I made it look loose and natural same with the sham board that's next to it the sham borden champagne I think that's just a really simple image but we thought about where those raspberries went. We thought about how many raspberries went in that what is a glass ashtray converted into like a little you know glass dish for us we thought about do we have to on the surface to have three how do we make the curtains in the background? Just have a little bit of natural light coming through it so it's a long process of just thinking about how to make things look relaxed when their planned they're totally planned they're drawn out there sketched out the thought about talked about but at the end of the day you wanted to make you want to make it look like you just walked in and there it is it's just relaxing casual and it's it's interesting on a shoot like the one on the left we might have ten pieces of glass we might sit there and shoot in pieces of glass that are all slightly different and obsess over what we like about this what we not like that's what it takes such a long time when you look at every single problem and have three different people's input on what it is and there could be a lot of disagreements, but rob mentioned that the yogurt was actually true product that you're working with and is that the stew? True with all the liquids you're working with always almost explosively I've been for a long time and like I've really tried to use the real stuff even going back in the film days when it was much harder to use the real stuff you could have acrylic ice made I do use acrylic ice on a lot of our cocktails and you'll see that, but as far as the actual product goes we try to use the real stuff without question because down to legal issue at the end of the day if there's anybody at the brand if there's anybody on in a sham board or wild turkey that questions what are you know yogurt land it's a question whether we use the real thing thing and we didn't there's a problem there's a problem from their point of view because it's a legal representation if we ve not used their product and you guys go in and you say this doesn't won't like that at all well obviously if you go to your great land shop you're not going to get swirling stuff falls cascading out of this guy or out from you know from the machines it's not gonna look like that but the product the color should be right it's texture should be right legally I've got to do everything I can to use that client's product and represent it as one hundred percent accurately as I can because it goes back to their sales issues and you know we live in a very litigious society you think about people all the time who will turn around they'll sue mcdonald's because the coffee is too hot and they spilled it in the lab people are still stuff in their life seriously only people who don't pickup we're still waiting on that sippy cup sippy cup so it gets down to a legal issue and absolutely we use this were the real stuff wherever possible sure alright brand guidelines brand guidelines so that goes right into what we just talked about with legal issues there are a lot of things that clients are very concerned about, but but bottle is a really good example if you look at these bottles in detail there's a lot of nuances and believe they're not clients spend hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting these things you know in this bottle there are gold reflective qualities the little leaves that air um you know, on the borrowing that is all reflective gold there is hard to see a particular on this screen but behind the budweiser there's a silver crown that's coming up we worked really hard to make sure that all those pieces come out and they come out in the best way again trying to make sure that the that the bottle looks sculptural that we're not just shooting everything really flat we're trying to give everything you know, shape and form but we want all the details to come out because he seems to really critical to the brand managers if you go in like bacardi bottle has medallions on that these gold reflective medallions and if they're shot and they look really dark and they don't come out the client's gonna be unhappy they've spent a lot of time thinking about those medallions and why they're there it's part of their brand message you don't want any part of their brand message to get tanked it's got to be there it's got to be probably so not even on a shoot like this. The size of the ice, the size of the spritz or the slush there's pretty strict, strict guidelines going. Then robin knows that exactly how to hand paint the ice and how big to make it. Because, you know, bigger ice makes it look like it's. A completely different emotions. Smaller ice does the same thing as well. So and another clients like budweiser. They hate when they have really long drips. You know that. Come down. Some photographers like to put it in there like, oh, that's stuff, you know, it would run all that stuff is actually hand painted. All the spritz, all that ice I put on one at a time. Basically not not each drop some of my going and I make a little bit bigger, but it's all done by hand. This is not something where we pulled it out of the cooler, but we want you to think we did, um well, the smoke and mirrors. But at the same time, it all goes back to that emotion and that appetite if he appeal and engaging you, getting you hooked and it's the details.

Class Description

Ready to break into the commercial photography business, but unsure of where to start? Rob Grimm and Gary Martin will help you navigate the ins and outs of the industry by delivering expert advice on an entire gamut of subjects –– from marketing, to shooting, to branding, and location scouting.

Rob and Gary’s workshop will be your personal guide to every single aspect of commercial photography. You'll learn how to set a budget, advertise your brand, and build your portfolio and client base. These two seasoned pros will also share invaluable technical tips on shooting and retouching.

This course is a one-stop shop for all the tools and skills needed to build a commercial photography portfolio and find your niche in the industry!



I have gratefully been watching this tutorial for free online, and as always CreativeLIVE has done an awesome job in bringing one of the best instructors of the trade and his creative team to help us improve and enjoy a higher level of understanding and performance in the skills we would like to achieve. I am humbled as always and ever so grateful. I would love to purchase the course myself, but since I live abroad, it is practically impossible, I hope those who can, would. I would just like to add one of the most interesting things I have learnt from this course is the careful attention these guys are paying to minute details and the amount of patience it takes to achieve their goals in each project. Stay inspiring, Totoo in China


Outstanding course! I'm a former creative director, now photographer full time and have had the unique experience working with studio photographers for commercial products in the past. This course is right on and very close to my experiences, and now that I'm behind the camera, it's nice to see some of those trade secrets revealed. Commercial work is fussy and you often have to sweat the details, but the results can be astonishing and rewarding. Rob and Gary do an excellent job explaining the ins and outs, without any pretention or hold-back on secrets. Something that's always annoyed me in the past, photographers never liked revealing their process. It's great fun watching Rob and Gary work a shoot, and Aaron Nace is beyond amazing in his retouching skills. I don't expect to break into this field, but I wanted to learn how things are done, for my own personal projects. I particularly enjoyed learning how they get the look of ice, ice crystals, and frost on the sides of glass bottles. I purchased several items from Trengrove, as they suggested. Their acrylic products are not cheap, but the quality is amazing and I'm very pleased and looking forward to experimenting. Thanks to all at Creative Live, RGG studios and Aaron Nace for this presentation.

Doors of Imagination Photography

This course is outstanding. I would consider it an advanced level. Having a good understanding of the technical aspects of photography and lighting is recommended. Rob Grimm takes you into two real product shoots. These were not canned demonstrations, but the real thing including working to get the lighting setup just right. The postproduction section with Aaron Nace was enlightening. This does require a good preliminary understanding of Photoshop. It was amazing to watch them build the final images for the client in real time. This is by far my favorite course to date.