Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Three; Getting Personal

If you are just coming into this series, I highly suggest you start at Part One, and then do Part Two before starting Part Three. Links for all of them are inside the protected area, and you can access them easily.

So far we have been working on our portfolios, making them reflect both our vision, and the needs of clients that would hire us. And we have begun building out our channels lists so we know where to go looking for those clients we want to work with.

Channels are the big picture look, and now we have to look at the more granular ‘gatekeepers’ and ‘middle entities’ that give us access to the assignment photography we want to do.

In this presentation we will examine the channels list and break it down into the specific clients and companies that we need to access. In this video I will show you how the different entities work, and what you should know as you begin to pursue commercial photography assignments.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next two. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

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“Light Conversation” Volume Four


In the discussion above, we look at this image by the incomparable Herb Ritts.


We were wondering where the shadow of the black cloth went. I know that Ritts shot film, and figured there must be another answer for where the shadow went.

Then I researched this photo:


From the same shoot, and the shadow is plainly visible. As it must be for the light to present the way it is on the image above it. It appears that Ritts indeed took out the shadows in post… whether it was digitized or multiple printers, the shadow was removed.

See this close up of the image two above:


That is INDEED a hard shadow on her face and neck. This indicates a very bright light, and since the cloth was casting a shadow to the left, it would only stand to reason that the shadow would be cast from the model as well… but…


Seeing the dark, sharp transition on her face and neck from the light source that is clearly leaving bright speculars on her legs, it is only logical that the shadow was removed in post in order to create a more graphically interesting image.


Another example: There is no way to make this shot without a shadow of the cloth… it has been – – eliminated.


Mystery solved.

Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Two


“How do I find clients?”

One of the most asked questions I get when chatting with photographers is where can they find clients.

It is one of the questions I ask when reviewing a portfolio; “OK, these are nice shots. Who do you know who will pay you for this kind of work?”

Too often I get a sort of lost expression and some mumbling. Occasionally someone will answer with a couple of ideas – but usually what I call the “Low Hanging Fruit” of possible clients; magazines.

Well, there is much more to commercial photography than working for “magazines” and we need to identify those areas who will purchase our work so we can move toward getting them to do just that.

In this video, I discuss the discovery of “Channels” – vertical markets that help you identify the types of businesses that would be able to use the kind of work that you do.

“Discovering Channels” is part two of our “Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients” program. Part One is on the blog and open to all. The entire series is free and open for subscribers to “In The Frame”.

This step by step program will help you build a solid client list, and help you keep them while you build your business. Many of my Project 52 members have been successful working this program.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next three. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

Subscribe To "In The Frame"

Every Sunday a new relevent newsletter on the art and business of commercial photography.

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This video is over 45 minutes long and includes a case study to help you build a strong channel list.


Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Pt. One – Portfolio


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Finding and Keeping Clients Part One PDF

Build a Solid Client List

Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients

NOTE: This is a course for emerging commercial photographers. The methods we discuss may be of interest to consumer photographers as well, but are highly focused on the commercial part of our industry. Thank you.

This is part one of a five part free course on finding and keeping commercial photography clients. It is an introduction to a far more robust course that will be offered July 1. There is no ‘selling’ in this video – or the next three, but in the last one I will show you how to sign up for the more detailed and comprehensive program. These videos are high in value and even if you do not sign up for the full course, you will find them extremely helpful.

To get the remaining 4 videos, please signup for “In the Frame”, my weekly dispatch. The classes will come to you one per week. You will find the sign up on the right hand column. Thank you for being interested, now let’s talk about your portfolio.

Inspired by Skrebneski

The first set of images from the 8 Week Portrait Class came in last evening and they are really good. The class takes a close look at 8 major portrait photographers by analyzing what they do, how they accomplished their imagery and what the thought process was behind the work.

The students then create a shot that was inspired by the photographer we studied. The goal for some is to replicate the style (to see if they can capture it) and for others it is to simply be inspired by the work and then create something within their own style that pays homage to the photographer.

We call it building the toolkit. The more ways you can think of to create an image, the more your creativity will take over. Creating your own personal style is the goal, learning from those who have great personal style is a method that works.

This first image set was inspired by the work of Skrebneski.


“The Sprinklers” (A Mother’s Day Essay)


(My daughter, Alissa, wrote this Friday for one of her final assignments. It fits in nicely for mother’s day.)


My mom used to tell my sisters and me that if we ran through the sprinklers we would feel like different people. We could do anything, be anything, without worrying about the future. When we ran through the sprinklers we were transported to whole different worlds. Some with endless possibilities. All with childlike joy and imagination. “The sprinklers will always be there for you. You just have to look for them.”

My older sister and I used to run through the sprinklers every afternoon in the park near our school. We skipped to the park and stopped by the edge of the grass. We put our backpacks down and took off our shoes, then lined our toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass – just barely touching the wetness. I would close my eyes and hear my mother’s voice echoing in my mind, telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be in those sprinklers. I looked at my sister and we held hands as we were transported to a different world. Running through sprinklers. Running through sparkling, diamond drops of water. Possibilities. Joy.

I am now a senior in high school. My baby steps are over, and it’s time to become an adult. Being an adult comes with responsibilities and worries. I walk home from school on a sunny day and I think about the future. What will I study in college? Will I graduate? Will I ever move out of my parents house? How will I pay for all the adult stuff like insurance and utilities? Will I ever get a job to help me pay for all of these things? Will I find a career that I love?

My mind was ripped away from that worrisome reality when I felt water hitting my toes. I looked up to see the sprinklers in the park near the school. I glanced around. Was anyone going to see me? Who cares?! I put my backpack down and took my sandals off, and lined my toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass. My toes barely touched the wetness. I looked around again, and then I went for it. As I ran through the sprinklers carefree and in my own world, I could hear my mom’s voice, “You can be anything, do anything.” I was laughing as all my troubles went away. I was in a different place where I felt safe and free. There were endless possibilities. Whatever happens in life that makes me stressed and upset, I can and will always count on those sprinklers to be there for me. I believe in running through sprinklers and connecting with my inner child. I’ll never let go of her, especially when she is needed most. The sprinklers will always be there – I just have to look for them.

— Alissa Giannatti, May 2015

Portrait Class Members Discuss the Workshop

“Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate.”

Clark Terry, Jazz trumpet genius.

This portrait class (and the companion 102 class) have been huge successes. The students are fired up and some are saying they are making the best images of their lives.

We look closely at the work of 8 major portrait photographers and study their way of working, lighting, posing, gestures, style and presentation. NOT in order to copy them, but in order to find the elements that ring true with our own experiences and aesthetics. To be ‘inspired by’ is the goal, and we all want to be inspired by the best.

Skrebneski, Karsh, Moon, Lindbergh, Ritts, Winters, Sieff, and Coupon are amazing photographers. Each brings something to the art of photography that can inspire us to push harder, light better, be more deliberate with our work.

Many of the students remark that their images coming straight out of camera are better and better. When we think deliberately about what we are doing, the quality of the work cannot help but get better.

We currently are enrolling for a class that starts May 19th, 2015. Get more information here. These are limited engagement classes.

Photographers on the broadcast:
Barbara Brady-Smith
Catherine Vibert
Irene Liebler
Virginia Smith
Jay Chatzkel
Bob Earle
Ron Velasquez
Marianne Cherry
Hiram Chee

24 Frames In May


Begins today.

It’s a non-contest, and just for fun.

Not many rules, but a few guidelines:

  1. This is for film cameras only.
  2. Black and White or Color is fine, and there are no restrictions on the type of film you shoot.
  3. Polaroid is OK.
  4. 4×5 or sheet film cameras are OK.
  5. Tintype / alternate process is OK.
  6. Images must be on a contact sheet as well as individually presented (Use Photoshop’s excellent “Contact Sheet” tool if you have had your film scanned.)
  7. Only one roll of 35mm film (or the first 24 frames of a roll of 36)
  8. Two rolls + for 6×7 120/220.
  9. No more than three exposures taken on any single day, no more than two of any single subject.
  10. Images must be presented in order of exposure.

Uploading instructions will be posted on May 31. Upload from June 1 to June 15.

If you are planning on being involved, let us all know in the comments.

Submissions will include:

  • Contact sheet
  • Camera format / brand
  • Lenses used
  • Film type and name
  • Lab used (with link please)
  • 24 individual frames ready for web at 1000 pixels on the long side.

Here is a link to last year’s submissions. I am hoping for triple the involvement this year.

Considering an option for a contest… thinking more about it and will announce before May if you can choose to be in the optional contest.

Need a film camera? Here is a list of my favorite film cameras. Let me know if you think I missed any amazing cameras. (Yeah, I gotta ad the Olympus OM-1 soon…)

I recommend this lab (FIND Labs), but you are welcome to use any lab you wish.

(photo courtesy death to the stock photo)



New Photography Books


From Amazon.

I love Photography Books, and have a wall of them waiting for me when I have some quiet time and simply want to stimulate my brain. From early works of Steichen and Cunningham to books by Demarchelier and Watson, the photography book is one of my great loves.

There was a moment a few years ago when I thought the era of photo books was coming to an end. But lately so many great books are coming on the market that it gives me renewed hope that they will stay with us for a long while.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Nicole Fernley: Cookbook Project

Project 52 members sharing recent work.

Nicole Fernley:

“These four images come from a larger selection of images that I recently shot for The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook, so the common thread is, of course, cheese. The cookbook author made most of the food, and we worked together to style the shots—and sample the food. Bonus. I was grateful that Don had said over and over “Shoot to layout!” because I had the sense to ask for image size. Finding out the images were expected to fill an 8×9 page was extremely helpful—limiting, but helpful.

This set is probably not as personal as Don had expected for this final assignment, but I’m submitting them because they represent something important to me—my first paying commercial photography assignment. At the beginning of Project 52, Don had said he hoped everyone would get at least one paying commercial gig before the Project was over. I was pretty sure I was going to be the exception because I had so much more to learn than everybody else. Surprise! I got a gig. And it kicked my butt…but I learned a lot.”

Nicole Fernley Photography

David Price: Illustrated Proverbs

David Price:

“This project grew out of some recent discussions about drawing inspiration from anyone, anything, and everything around you. I admit, I drew a lot of inspiration for this idea from Irene Liebler’s series she did across last year of Common and Idiomatic Phrases – Feet To The Fire, Leaving The Nest, and so on. I thought that idea would be something I could do in my own style. I love her work, but I don’t see the world the way she does, and that’s a Good Thing™. I love that, having seen it week in and week out, we can all take the same subject and come up with completely different results.

I am doing this idea of taking old proverbs, common phrases, and idioms because it will lead to some interesting photographic possibilities, and be expandable far beyond a 5-10 shot series. I like this personal project for me, specifically, because those possibilities can extend through all of the artistic forms I enjoy working with, from portraits to still life, composites, and a whole lot of concept work. Heh, concept work: This was the area I really wanted to concentrate on for this last P52 project, as I see it as needing the most development in my own artistic growth going forward.

I hope you enjoy the series. I did!”

David Price Photography (Bay Area, CA)

From the Early Days of Color Photography


The year was 1913.

I absolutely love these images. From composition through framing and of course the patina, they are simply lovely.

“Mervyn O’Gorman was 42 when he took these pictures of his daughter, Christina O’Gorman at Lulworth Cove, in the English county of Dorset. He photographed Christina wearing a red swimming costume and red cloak, a colour particularly suited to the early color Autochrome process. “

Se more here:

Carol Rioux “Revealing a Portrait”

Carol Rioux:

“I chose to make a series of portraits of a single person.  I chose this project because I am very interested in everything that constitutes a person as it is important to me to capture who a person is not just a pretty picture.  I photographed parts of the subject, which progressively make up the most of the entire individual but never completely.  We made many images and it was difficult to limit the choices and parts to create a whole person.  Is it just parts of the body, personal interests or a combination of both?  I changed my choices a hundred times as she also loves reading, writing and hot chocolate.  Choosing an editing style was also difficult because finding a style that suited all the images was a challenge.  I feel like I captured a part of her being – attractive, edgy, confident, private, and capable…   We shot outdoors at different times over a couple day to maximize the effects of the sun.  I brought strobes and flashes but only ended up using the sun and reflectors.”

Carol Rioux Photography