For the last seven years, our video tutorials have taught the Fstoppers community how to take better pictures. Our latest tutorial, Making Real Money: The Business Of Commercial Photography, is the opposite of that. In fact, there isn't a camera or lens in the entire 14-hours of video. But, I believe it's the most valuable tutorial we've ever made.
Our job, as the producer of these tutorials, is to identify a need in the photography market, find the best instructor to teach in that field, and present the information in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way. Over the years I think we've done a great job of teaming up with some incredible instructors and the tutorials we have created have really changed the market. Before Peter Hurley, headshot photography was hardly an industry outside of NYC and Los Angeles. Sure, there were people taking snapshots of business owners, but Peter Hurley's first tutorial The Art Behind The Headshot completely changed the way headshots were taken. Now, you won't just find headshot photographers using his techniques, you'll find your portrait and wedding photographers telling their clients to jam their forehead toward the camera and to "squinch."
Mike Kelley was also able to totally shift the architecture photography market with his tutorial. Since the release of Where Art Meets Architecture, there are world-class photographers shooting properties in almost every major city in America using Mike's light painting and editing techniques.
Since then, we've worked with many other incredible photographers like Dylan Patrick, Clay Cook, Joey Wright, and Elia Locardi. Some photography genres like fashion, swimwear, or landscape photography are pretty exciting on their own and making educational content that was also entertaining, wasn't very difficult. But what about filming a tutorial on a boring subject? Is it possible to make "business" fun?
We've known for years that a tutorial on the business side of photography was probably the most important tutorial we could make. We've met so many incredible photographers around the world who are struggling financially. No matter how good their pictures are, they still can't figure out how to land the jobs they want. Although we knew these photographers needed help in this area, we feared it would be impossible to make a tutorial on business actually fun to watch and, if it was boring, nobody would buy it.
Two years ago we asked Monte Isom to teach at our live workshop in the Bahamas. During the event, both Patrick and I got to sit in on sections of his business of commercial photography class. Both of us were shocked by how much Monte was willing to reveal. He was sharing his secrets for breaking into new markets by going after certain people in ad agencies. He was sharing how much he was paid to shoot major jobs and going through his bids line by line. He even gave away lawyer letters he has used to make hundreds of thousands of dollars going after copyright infringers. The numbers that Monte was talking about were unbelievably high, but as he explained the entire process of marketing to the client, sending them a bid, and then shooting the job, it actually seemed attainable.
For two years we've been planning to do this tutorial with Monte but six months ago we actually started planning it. I assumed the tutorial would be similar to his live workshop but Monte wanted this video to be better than that. For the past 20 years, Monte has been making connections throughout the industry with creative professionals at the top of their fields. Monte wanted us to fly to NYC, L.A., and Charleston to film interviews with nine of these industry leaders. These interviews ended up being packed with some of the most interesting and valuable information we've ever included in a tutorial. Instead of this tutorial being four or five hours like I expected, it ended up being 14. I've never heard anyone in these positions speak so candidly about every aspect of hiring photographers. I've been a professional photographer for 14 years, and the majority of the content in this video was foreign to me. I can't imagine where my career would be if I had known this stuff when I graduated from college.
I realize that the average Fstoppers reader is not a professional photographer. If you simply take pictures for fun, you probably won't enjoy this tutorial. But, if you're a professional photographer, if you actually take pictures for a living, this tutorial just might be the most entertaining and informative video that we've ever produced. More importantly, if you're a full-time shooter, I believe this will be the most valuable educational content you'll ever purchase. Monte completely changed my view of the industry and If you want to know how to take your photography business to the next level, Making Real Money is going to completely change the way you run your business.