Making Real Money

The Business of Commercial Photography

With Monte Isom

Are you a photographer who has an amazing portfolio but still struggles to land the jobs you want? Maybe you've been a professional photographer for years but you still haven't connected with advertising agencies or international brands. Perhaps you feel like your photography business has plateaued and you're not sure how to expand. In Monte Isom's new tutorial, Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography, you will get an inside look at what it takes to land work from advertising agencies, the world's largest magazines, and international campaigns.

This video tutorial includes
  • 14+ Hours of Video Content
  • 20+ of Monte's Real Job Estimates, Invoices, Emails, Carnets, Lawyer Letters, and Treatments
  • 9 Unique Interviews with Art Buyers, Creative Directors, Art Editors, and Producers
  • 7 Episodes of "Story Time with Monte"
  • Access to Monte's Private Facebook Group
Download this 14+ hour digital download now

Are you a photographer who has an amazing portfolio but still struggles to land the jobs you want? Maybe you've been a professional photographer for years but you still haven't connected with advertising agencies or international brands. Perhaps you feel like your photography business has plateaued and you're not sure how to expand. In Monte Isom's new tutorial, Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography, you will get an inside look at what it takes to land work from advertising agencies, the world's largest magazines, and international campaigns. This tutorial is an inside look at the highest level of photography. All of your questions about the industry will be answered.  

Who is Monte Isom?

Monte Isom is a commercial and advertising photographer based in New York City. Over the course of his career, he has photographed everything from Hollywood movie posters to massive global advertising campaigns for many of the worlds most prominent brands. Monte's client list includes Adidas, Nike, Gatorade, Visa, Allstate, New Balance, BodyArmor, Marvel, Spike TV, National Geographic, and dozens of other high profile brands and networks. Before Monte started photographing for himself, he assisted many of the most successful photographers including Sandro Miller, Gregory Heisler, Albert Watson, Peter Lindbergh, Timothy White, and Martin Schoeller to name a few.  

For years, we have wanted to film the ultimate tutorial on the business of commercial photography but we needed to find the right instructor. We wanted to team up with someone who was not only a well-accomplished photographer but someone who understood the industry's best-kept secrets. Monte Isom is a true master at marketing and he has a complete understanding of how the industry works from all sides. For the past 20 years, Monte has built connections in every area of the advertising world and he has used his knowledge and these contacts to land big budget jobs year after year. For the first time in his career, Monte is finally sharing everything he has learned that has taken him from being a photography assistant to one of the most sought-after photographers in the world. 

Topics Covered In This Tutorial

  • What to Put on Your Website
  • Marketing to the Right People
  • Mailers, Emails, Cold Calls, and Non-Traditional Marketing
  • How to Stand Out in a Conference Call
  • When to Work for Free VS When to Demand Payment
  • Building Impressive Treatments and Decks
  • Winning the SEO Game
  • Understanding the Different Points of Contacts
  • Drafting Competitive Estimates 
  • Understanding License Usages
  • Making Money with Copyright Infringements
  • Beating the IRS and Tax Audits
  • Budgeting the Shoot and Paying Your Assistants
  • Working Direct to Brand vs Through an Advertising Agency
  • How Photography Agents Work
  • Working with Celebrities
  • Finding Extra Money in Editorial Work
  • Carnets and Working Overseas

Interviews With Industry Insiders

Although Monte has an incredible amount of knowledge about the advertising industry, it was important to also include information from other industry professionals. Throughout this 15 hours tutorial, you will hear not just inside information from Monte, but also nine other creative professionals who work in different areas of the industry. Many of these interviews are with the art buyers or the "gatekeepers" of the advertising world. These are the people you will have to win over to land the big clients and high paying jobs. Each of these interviews is a priceless look into a unique facet of the industry.

The creative professionals Monte interviews in this tutorial don't just work in the industry, many of them have reached the top of their field and have decades of experience working with many of the highest paying clients and most expensive photographers in the world. Collectively these interviews should give you a great understanding of how each aspect of the industry works and what types of photography budgets each industry has for a campaign. 

Jim Surber - Deputy Photo Editor at ESPN Magazine - Jim provides some of the most valuable information on shooting editorial work. As a long time sports photo editor, Jim talks about how the fee structure works with editorial publications as well as some of the best ways to get your foot in the door. This interview is a great resource for those looking to get into commercial and advertising photography but have not yet explored the advantages shooting editorial work provides to their overall portfolio and branding.

Adrien Bindi - Creative Strategist at Facebook - Adrien is essentially a creative director who works for Facebook's Creative Shop. As more and more companies target social media outlets, Facebook has become a sort of hybrid advertising agency that facilitates the advertising ideas from a brand and the execution from a photographer. Adrien discusses in detail how he helps find photographers for his clients as well as some tips you can have in not only bidding on a job but ultimately winning that bid.

Nicole Dieterichs - Executive Vice President at Cold Open Nicole is one of the highest officers at Cold Open, a massive movie poster house based out in Los Angeles. While she manages the account directors below her, Nicole is ultimately responsible for presenting every final movie poster composite that comes out of her agency to the movie studios and networks. In this interview Nicole breaks down some of the budgets and day rates photographers commonly charge in the entertainment world and explains what skills are needed to work on big budget movie posters.

Sarah Manna - SVP, Director of Art and Print Production at Deutsch - Deutsch is a big league traditional advertising agency based out of New York. In this interview, Sarah breaks down the most effective steps a photographer can take to get their work noticed by an art buyer at an ad agency. She also breaks down everything that goes into invoicing, creating budgets and estimates, understanding purchase orders, and creating licenses that fit a particular advertising campaign.

Peter Stark - Partner and Creative Director at Bond - Peter is the lead creative director at one of the hottest media producers in Hollywood. Peter's job is to oversee all print and digital work for television, film, and digital media. In this interview, Peter focuses on presenting your work, creating images that stand out, beefing up the production on your own shoots, and even breaks down the retouching of several movie poster composites his studio designed.

Andrea Johnson - Photo Producer at Lion's Gate - In the world of advertising and commercial photography, there are several different types of producers you will have to collaborate with. Andrea is a photo producer for a movie studio which means she is the liaison between Lion's Gate film sets and any photographer hired to produce images and assets for the production. She understands photography budgets and production better than anyone else in this tutorial, and Andrea gives a great perspective on what it is like hiring and working with a photographer from the initial pre-light all the way to the final produced campaign.

Perry Fair - Vice President of Brand Creative at Beats by Dre - In today's market, more and more brands are bypassing traditional advertising agencies and hiring photographers directly themselves. This means that instead of relying on an ad agency to help facilitate communication between brand and execution, "direct to brand" campaigns are brainstormed and produced directly with the brand itself. Working directly with brands is common in large markets but is even more important to understand in small markets where companies depend less on advertising agencies and instead hire photographers directly. Perry Fair is an unbelievably talented brand creative for one of the hottest electronics companies in the world, Beats by Dre, and he breaks down exactly what it is he is looking for when hiring photographers to shoot direct to brand campaigns.

Finding Success in Smaller Markets

Throughout this tutorial we interviewed creatives working for some of the largest and most successful companies in the industry, but it was also important to hear the perspectives of other players in much smaller markets. So while much of this content focuses on the markets of Los Angeles and New York City, we also include interviews from Charleston, South Carolina to help those photographers trying to climb to the top of their own small emerging market.

Learn how budgets differ in small vs large markets

David Wood - Partner and Creative Director at Blue Ion - This tutorial focuses a lot on the business practices of commercial photography at the highest level of the industry. However, we thought it would be important to also shed light on the business practices commonly found in much smaller or emerging markets. David is responsible for hiring photographers and producing commercial campaigns for smaller brands out of Charleston, South Carolina. The perspective David brings to the table will help you learn how to leverage your own market and apply the information found in larger markets to the work you may produce in smaller, satellite markets.  

Brennan Wesley - Lifestyle and Medical Photographer - Throughout this entire tutorial, we interview many different people who work and hire photographers in the commercial world. While comparing large and small markets, we thought it would be interesting to hear from a local photographer in a smaller market to see what avenues they have taken to find success. Brennan Wesley works both in the editorial and commercial world, and hearing from his perspective sheds light onto some of the challenges photographers might face when trying to make a living in an emerging market. So no matter if you are based in Atlanta, GA or Breckenridge, CO, you will be able to find success in any sized market. 

Story Time with Monte

This tutorial is a major departure from other Fstoppers tutorials in that it is built around a lecture style format. We wanted to focus 100% on the business of commercial and editorial photography, but that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun as well. Sprinkled throughout this tutorial is a hilarious series we created called Story Time With Monte. Set in an Irish pub inspired living room, Story Time is where Monte rehashes some of his most memorable stories about breaking into commercial photography, assisting some of the industry's most acclaimed photographers, and learning life lessons on making photography a successful career. These candid bar room narratives are filled with outrageous photography story after outrageous story only capable of being told by Mr. Isom himself.  

What’s included in the Digital Download:

  • 14 1/2 Hours of Video Content (1080p, 23.9fps, H.264 mpg4, 20GB of material)

  • 20+ of Monte's Real Job Estimates, Invoices, Emails, Carnets, Lawyer Letters, and Treatments

  • 9 Unique Interviews with Art Buyers, Creative Directors, Art Editors, and Producers

  • 7 Episodes of Story Time with Monte

  • Access to Monte's Private Business of Photograph Facebook Group 

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Previous comments

Wow thanks for the praise. If we somehow made talking about business "fun" then that is a home run for us. I remember talking with Monte about this idea initially and being really worried how boring this tutorial could be....luckily we came up with some interesting solutions to that problem.

I'm 4 sessions in and just wanted to pop in and say this tutorial is worth way more than the price listed. Took a chance and I'm so grateful for the information already provided. I'm currently binge watching and will need to go back and actually take more notes Thanks for sharing!

Awesome...4 lessons in and you aren't even into the good stuff :)

*hands rubbing my face in desperation* Monte or Leibovitz' tutorial, Fstoppers? ( why and why not)? ^_^

Read the reviews of each.

I have not seen Annie's tutorial and I'm sure it is amazing but they are two completely different things. Neither are very technical from what I hear and Annie's is more about the creative process of designing a photograph more than how to light it and technically achieve it. Monte's is not about taking photos at all but rather how to actually get clients, contracts, bids, and make money. IMO Monte's tutorial might be the most valuable tutorials in our entire store (or online period) but they are two completely different beasts.

Solid points, Patrick!

^^^^^ what Patrick said ^^^^ Pedro, glad you chose our tutorial.

Monte, so am I!
I have watched it up to the 1st interview, and so far your tips are nothing but priceless. On top of it, I should mention, you are a fantastic educator.
I've been looking for this " grandpa moment" for a while and was always really hard to find someone willing to share their knowledge!
This tutorial is well worth every penny!

If you are even "considering" getting into commercial photography then this course is a no-brainer. Even if you aren't, it's a no-brainer. There are so many gold nuggets in this course they should have called it "Gold Rush 2017!"

The preview of the tutorial made me very courious, it seems full of interesting information!

Read the comments and feedback to see if you feel it is right for you. That is often the best gauge.

As someone who's been shooting commercially for over 10 years, I can say without a doubt that if I'd been able to watch this tutorial a decade ago, my business would be in a completely different place than it is today. Monte thoroughly covers all of the questions that you've always wanted to ask but a) don't know who to ask b) don't want to sound like a dummy c) did't even know you had that question yet. Marketing, bidding, licensing fees, invoicing..... all things that are nearly impossible to find in-depth real-world information on. I've struggled for years with almost every aspect covered in this tutorial but after watching all of the episodes I feel like I can move forward on the business end of my photography with confidence . Not only have I picked up a ton of knowledge but it's also reinforced that there were things that I've been doing right but was never sure. "Story Time" is an amazing addition that's not only entertaining but has tons of little nuggets of real-world info tucked in there as well. So thank you, Monte, for shedding a lot of light on an area of photography that most accomplished shooters don't want to.

Just purchased the tutorial; however, I couldn't find the link for the Facebook Group.

Should be the in the email you received to download the course

Yep. Found it. Thanks.

With the recent spring sale I'm considering buying this, however I'd like to know how much of the content is localized to the US? I'm asking because the free lesson (registering with Library of Congress) is very much limited to one specific country.

This tutorial is about booking jobs with giant corporations. It won't really help you book small local jobs but if you are trying to book a job with a company like Nike in your country, it will help.

I’m not a pro, but I’ve always been curious to know what transitioning to pro and aiming for the highest would be like. This is the one Fstoppers course I would buy if I could afford it

It's honestly more about the hustle and the effort you put into marketing yourself that makes the biggest difference. There are great photographers out there who will never make a dime and then there are very mediocre photographers you will never hear of who are making 6 and 7 digits year after year all because they know how to market and play the game. Monte def knows the game well and if you aspire to work hard and go through the effort he has gone through for his career, you can learn everything he knows in this tutorial. Being a full time commercial photographer isn't for everyone though.

I did buy this in the end and love it. Just not sure how relevant it is to my country (New Zealand) though..

This is my 4th tutorial I bought from FS and have never utilized the private facebook groups but I definitely want to for this one as I have a lot of questions. I didn't log in to purchase this tutorial and checked out as a guest. How do I gain access to this group? Any info would be great.

Regardless of how you purchased the tutorial, the link to the private facebook groups are located in the email that is sent to you at the time of purchase. If you have any trouble, please email us through the website and we can look up your order and add you to the groups you want to join.

Hey Patrick and Monte....I just read Monte's guest post on Scott Kelby's blog. I am interested in this tutorial, but want to know if anything is said about the equipment needed to be a full time commercial photographer. The photograph of Monte in his studio is daunting to say the least...I don't have loads of equipment and I am afraid I would never be taken seriously without my own studio and truck loads of strobes, reflectors, and several assistants sitting at a table with their computers....I would be showing up to a job with my two camera bodies and a few lenses...big corporations would probably just laugh at me, and say, "seriously??". Is there anything in this tutorial about what equipment is needed to be taken seriously as a commercial photographer??

I do not cover what equipment you need to be a professional photographer simply because there is no real equipment list you need. There are so many avenues to making money at photo and each needs different gear. A wedding photographer needs something different than a portrait photographer. Each portrait photographer uses different light sources. I have a friend who does high end work and only uses a 35mm camera, 1 lens and a reflector. The photography equipment you need is driven by the style of your work and what your desired end product is in the image. Hope this helps but the tutorial will not address what is "required" as gear to be taken seriously.

Please English subtitles!

Does it have applicable use for selling in the art market? I don't necessarily mean selling art for commercial use but to figure out how to present to a gallery, acquire a position and establish a business within the art market.

No, but we are considering doing a tutorial on this.

I have bought the tutorial, but how do I get access to the Monte's Private Business of Photograph Facebook Group?

In the purchase receipt is a link to join. The private facebook group is a very valuable tool where daily myself and members answer all questions related to business and making money with photography. This is a way to make sure info is tailored to your niche of photography and your market.

Does it apply to Indian Market? I primarily shoot Weddings.

Hi Patrick ... i did sent a mail wrt an extraction issue of part 4 ...any advise?

Hello, new here and very interested in this course. Is 90% of the info in here still relevant? Have there by any big changes to licensing since the release of this course for beginner or advanced creators to be aware about? Thank you!

This is for advanced photographers/business owners and 100% is still relevant.

Hmmmmm....every week ima set aside $100.

Will this tutorial be applicable for a photographer that is in Nigeria?
Would really love to get this tutorial

I'm new to Fstoppers. Just wondering if this is still relevant in 2021/2022? I will be pitching my work to Los Angeles ad agencies soon and I have no idea where to start. It looks like a good buy but its a few years old. Is the FB group still active?

Yes, the info in this tutorial won't become irrelevant for a long time and the group is still very active.

Sounds great, will buy soon.