Want to be a successful Photographer – Must Watch!


(speaks in foreign language) – This is a very special video. I got to interview one
of my idol, Joel Grimes. Now if you don’t know who Joel Grimes is he is the master of the
three edge-lighting portrait. He has done so many dramatic
portrait that I love so much, composites or in studio
or working with flash. He even reinvented his style recently with the famous Plaphotography. This interview is really
how to be successful as a photographer, this was a huge inspiration
for me 10 years ago, it changed my life, I hope this interview will change yours. (dramatic music) Joel, thank you for meeting me. – Serge, excellent. – This is really a blessing for me. Just to give a little backtrack
on my relationship with you, I found about you about
11 years ago I think when you came into the Kelby Empire and I think you did something with Scott. And you’ve changed my
life in so many ways, one by inspiration, I wanted to teach. I love the way you teach and
it really inspired me to teach. But also, one of the main reason I’m living here in Los Angeles is because I got an O1 visa and that visa you only
get if you get pressed. And the only way I get published in press was through this video you
did years and years ago, I think seven or eight years ago, where you explained your marketing plan. But I wanna backtrack things first. When did you start into photography? – Well, so, I took a as
a freshman high school so I’m like 14 years old. They gave you six–
– And that’s 40 today so that’s like. – That ways. You get six electives. Welding, drafting, printmaking, wood shop. I can’t remember. Anyways, photography was one of them and I love work with my hands, and I’m not very good
a student academically. So, but if I work with my hands or drawing or whatever, I love that, right? And I always was drawing as a
little kid, drawing, you know? But I took photography it
was kinda like a combination of artistic but technical and you go out in the field, I have assignments and I went nuts. I thought this is the greatest thing. So then I took the next year the full year and then the full second, like second tier and then the fourth year I
was the teacher’s assistant. So I ended up taking it basically almost four years in high school. But still I never thought
make a living with photography and that never even crossed my mind. and I was in sports and everything. And I didn’t know what I was gonna do but my dad was a fireman. And so, in my brain I thought, well maybe be a fireman or something. Then I took a class at Pima
Community College first, so that’s a community
college is a one-step sort of before you go to the university level. – Right. – And it’s not very expensive. it’s in local Tucson Community College. Well, little did I know
that one of the best probably teachers in the world happened to run the program
at Pima Community College, Lou Bernal. And I was 19-years-old, I go in his class and he gets up there and he says, “Photography is a great way “to document the world
around you with a camera. “But there’s something better. “That is to have the camera be a tool “to be an artist, you create.” And I’m like this going, wow! I wanna be an artist, right? And so, now, it’s hard to understand but that’s planting the seed, right? That now that was 40 years ago and he’s still there. – It’s crazy. – And still I have a passion greater than I probably
did back then, right? But I couldn’t get enough and then I went to the
Arizona State University in the Fine Arts. Finished up at University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in the Fine Arts which has really no preparation
for the real world, right? – Right. – So, then I had to learn, I wanted to chase my dream. I had to learn how to do that and I was in shock. The real world is brutal. And it was almost like and my dad said– – Especially fine arts, so you wanted just like 20 years old get
into fine art right away. – Well, so I, at the time you understand that definitions I didn’t know, like I didn’t know an art director, ad agency, creative directors, I didn’t know graphic design. Graphic design, I had
graphic design friends but I didn’t know what they did. I didn’t know they do the
typeface and I mean, you know? I didn’t understand all that, right? It’s just a world you don’t know. And so, I knew there was
newspaper photographers. I knew there National
Geographic photographer, I didn’t know that was under
the umbrella of editorial. See, I didn’t know those terms. Like corporate direct like Hewlett-Packard
has a plant down there and they have big headquarters. You go and you knock on their door and there’s a marketing department inside. I didn’t know that. Consumer Direct that was like
weddings, family portraits, senior high school portraits, all that. I didn’t know that. I knew that existed a little bit but I didn’t know what,
how that was all separated. But I had a studio mate who
went to Art Center in Pasadena which is one of the most prestigious photography programs out there. But he was unique in a way that he was really a marketing genius, and he understood how to
get your foot in the door. And he was brilliant at it. So here I am shy as can be. I mean I couldn’t, if I picked the phone up to call someone like I didn’t know, shaky. I mean I was so nervous and if anyone has done that your tongue feels like
50 pounds. (mumbling) You know, I’m Joel Grimes, I mean I couldn’t say it. And so, I had to learn from that point to get to where I could be proficient at making a cold call to someone new to exert myself in the marketplace, I had to learn how to do that. – So, how did you ’cause one of the thing, one of the question I get asked a lot and I guess you asked too is, okay, I’m passionate about photography, how can I turn this into a living? Like for example, I find it’s hard to make money with fashion photography. Maybe you start with real estate or maybe you do some wedding
and then you get in for. So how did you get your first money? – Well, so you have to, in some way you have to put
your stake in the ground in something, right? And when I started I did a lot of things. I did architecture, you know? Then I started doing ad stuff, corporate direct stuff. I did annual reports. I went to 50 countries around the world, some of them 20 times. – Really? – But I had to go and figure
out what do I wanna do, right, and that’s the most important thing is where do you wanna end up. So I always say make a game plan. Make a year game plan, make say a two, three-year game plan, make a five-year, 10-year game plan. – Absolutely. – And you don’t have to always like if you start out architecture you don’t the stay there
the rest of your life. But more importantly that let’s say you and I let’s say I met you and you said, “Joel, you are. “I wanna pay you for one hour.” And I say, “$10,000 for one-on-one.” Let’s just say. I wish I could get 10,000 for one hour but let’s just say would I talked about f-stops, shutter speeds technique? No. I would tell you how to
exert yourself marketing to get yourself in the
door of where you wanna go. – Right. – So, that’s where the weak
link is in photographers. It’s not the skill set. There are amazing photographers out there. There are photographers that I look at their work and I go these guys, they’re better than me but why aren’t they out
there working, right? ’cause they haven’t learned the marketing side.
– Yeah, 100%. – [Joel] And so, when I do a workshop or when I do a lecture. For example, we’re at
Photoshop World here, okay? And I’ve been doing this
about five, six years, I can’t remember now,
seven years, I don’t know. So, you have a business track, you have Photoshop track, you have a photography type track, okay? So they break it down. So if I do a class on lighting and back and when there was
like 800 seats in the room. Lighting, pack out. Marketing half-full. – Really? – So, why is that? – Yeah because people just
wanna think about the art not about the,
– That’s right. – [Serge] What it takes to get out there. – So I always tell the people that show up you have an edge above
the rest of the people that are here at Photoshop World because you have made an
effort to understand marketing. Once you understand marketing you can go anywhere you want in the world. Now I say this without a shadow of a doubt that if your goal is to be say contract photographer
for National Geographic, it’s a 100% guarantee you can do it. – Oh, I agree. – Now, there’s a price to pay for it meaning you got to go hone your craft. You got to be a storyteller, so you got to come up with a good idea. And then or a set of good ideas and then you have to hit that person, whoever makes the decision that says, “We wanna send you to
Africa and do some story.” You got to hit them at least eight times. I call it the power of eight. – The power of eight. That’s the one thing that changed my life, the power of eight. – Yeah because here’s the
problem is human beings, we’re the same. You and I, we’re all the same in one way. Is that if I run into you and I say, I’m the world’s
greatest photographer and you hire photography, and then I walk away you forget who I am. And then when assignment comes up you don’t remember who I am. But if I hit you eight times, my name gets into your brain and then when that (snaps)
assignment comes up, I need a photographer,
I need a photographer. And here’s the most most incredible secret on the planet, okay? There’s two ways that you could say unless my dad was the owner
of National Geographic, that’s one way but let’s
say there’s really two ways that you can get in to
be hired by a company, or an editorial magazine or whatever. Is one is you’re the most incredible photographer on the planet
and your name is out there, and everyone knows you and they go let’s get
you know this guy or gal. The other name, the other way is is through a crisis, okay? Now, since I’m not the best
photographer in the world, my best hope to get hired by anybody in the advertising arena or whatever is that I get my name in their brain and then they have a crisis. Their three photographers,
five photographers, whatever, are all booked and now they need, their boss is saying,
“We need a photographer “to do this job next week or whatever,” and they’re in a crisis. And who are they gonna call? The first name that pops into their brain ’cause I’ve done my homework, I’ve done my due diligence, I’ve now got my name in their brain. – And on that can you tell the story in how this whole thing
where you every Monday, that’s the story I heard
years ago that inspired me, I’ll tell my version of it, but where you were
sending five I remember. Five, five or eight photos every Monday to mags that you wanna work with. What was that?
– Yeah. I would put together
a little promo packet, like some were handmade, wire bound or whatever, very delicate. I make like a couple hundred, right? I’d sit and watch TV and make them and then I’d get my list, and then I would send it out. – But several times. – Oh yeah, no and then
I make a phone call. – Right. – And I say, usually a voicemail, hey, Joel or back then it was
a recording machine, right? hi, Joel Grimes here. I just sent you a packet. I’d love to talk to you in person, click. So then I go packet one, phone call two ’cause now they’ve seen Joel
Grimes, Joel Grimes twice. – Right. – Then I send another packet, phone call, another packet, phone call. So I call it power of eight. So I make four with four phone calls. Now if that doesn’t work
then I would take a little, back then it was little printers. There were 13 by 19 little posters and I’d put him on foam core and it would be that
sticky stuff you peel off and you put them on, you smooth it up, trim them up, put them
in a little acetate slip, put my card in the back, and I’d put it in my Volkswagen van, and I’d stack like 15 of them in there. And I drive around downtown Denver and I go X, Y, Z agency, run in, hand it to them. And I do that. – That is so cool. – I kept getting and so
I had a list of 49 names or 50 names on my computer and I would keep doing it,
just track, track, track. – And Denver is not like New York. – No, no. And I, in two years I worked
for 48 of those companies. – I remember that story, yeah. – Is that not incredible? – Yeah, it’s so incredible. – It’s all because not because
I’m the best photographer, because I’m the one out knocking
and pounding the streets. – Yeah and I, honestly
your style is amazing. So, just for the story, I heard this story which you just said. I on a Friday afternoon, on the Sunday, it was a Sunday, it was pouring rain. I didn’t know what to do. I live in the suburbs of Paris and it’s a little hill where I live. It’s actually there’s a forest and there’s one kiosk that has magazines. I walked into that kiosk, I said what photography magazine you have? They had five. I bought all five, went back home. I printed, I did my own kits. The whole thing took me three hours. I got 16 page published from and I just sent it once. So maybe I got lucky. – Yeah. – Later down the line, three years after when I had to do my O1
visa to come to the US, it is these articles that got me the visa. So without you I wouldn’t even
be living the United States which was my dream since. – Well I’ll send you a check I’ll send you, I mean a bill. – A bill.
– A bill, yeah. – [Serge] I’ll send you a check. (laughing) Yeah, so that’s amazing. Now, how did you invent the three, the edgy look with the three lights ’cause that’s how I found about you about nine, 10 years ago. – Okay, so, the funny thing about I think this idea of being a creative force, okay, is that we think you get to be brilliant or some special powers
that were given to you when you were born, that you, everything
you touch turns to gold. Well, that’s not the case. Maybe in some, may be one out of a billion
people are like that but most of us, everyday people, we’re out there going huh,
what do I do, you know? And so, I was a one light cross light guy. So we have a big window right now, that’s a big cross light, right? And that’s really gorgeous lighting. I used that for everything and I had never put a
light above my camera. So like a beauty dish or something. Well, back when I started out there was no such thing as a beauty dish. But I never did that, all cross light with a fill
card maybe on the side. And I still teach that lighting but that was it for 25 plus years. – Wow. – And so, you remember back
in the 2006, ’07, and ’08 in America the economy went bad. – Right. – And I at that time was making 90% of all my income was off of ad agencies. – Right. – And ad agencies were
closing their doors, the budgets were being cut, everything. And so, I was caught in a little bit because I put all my eggs
in one basket, ad agencies. And so, I remember my
income went down really low and I kinda thought, okay,
I gotta reinvent myself. Because I knew, by then I’ve
already reinvented myself twice but pretty much twice completely. And I said, okay, I
need to reinvent myself. So I sat down I said to my wife, I said, I’m 50 years old at the time. I said, “I’m not done yet. I’m gonna rock the world.” And she’s ironing or whatever and she’s like, yeah, whatever. And so, I go okay, we just happened to go to the Gap and we’re buying clothes for the kids. And the guy that checked
us out was this black guy, good looking, shaved head. And I’m looking, I’m sitting there, I said, “Hey, I’m a photographer, “I’d like to do a test shoot of you.” He’s like, “Huh?” I said, “Yeah, are you a model?” No, no, no. He said and kinda smiled. I said, “Oh, you’d be good subject.” So I gave my information
and he called me back. And so, at that time
I didn’t have a studio but we had a beautiful
Santa Fe style house with a big great room. And so, I’d push the couches out And I’d have this nine-foot sweep and I could shoot in there all the time. And so, I’m sitting there going I have this beauty dish. And I had photographed at one point the boxers that went to
Athens for the Olympics. And I remember usually cross light and I had seen somewhere
where someone did a like a little edge light on somebody, like it’s like a hair light. And I went, that’s kinda interesting. So, I ended up just one of
the boxers I tried that, I was like, that’s pretty cool and then I just dropped it, never did it. So that’s the first time
I ever used two lights on one portrait. – So one edge and one.
– That was it, yeah. – Okay.
– And so then, so he comes in and I had this beauty dish
I ordered, Paul C. Buff, it was like 80 bucks. I tried it, I was like eh. it was one of the kits, nah, terrible. So I don’t know what to do with it ’cause I never put a light
over the top of my camera. So Timothy walks in and I go, okay, I’m gonna try something
completely different. So I get the beauty dish and I
put it right over the camera. Again, I’d never done this before and I’m sitting there going, I’ll get an edge light. So I go over dig out through and I had these two
little soft boxes or one and I go and I put one, and I, it’s digital, right? So small little digitals like that little teeny. And I shoot one, I go, okay, not bad. I go over and I do the other one. And I go, oh, down power
this, up power that. Anyways, so I started doing this and I’m looking at the
back of the monitor going, I really like this. And so, I shoot my
series and then he leaves and I go to my wife, Amy. I said, I think I got something. And she kinda looks at me and I go, “No, no, honey, I think I got something.” And so, I retouched it, put it out, I mean, got it out there and I started calling everyone I knew. The high school kids with the
football jerseys, everyone. I started going and just
shooting the same light and after about a year, well, I’ll tell you this
story, this is really funny. I had my assistant and he said, I was showing him stuff, you know? “Look at this stuff I’m doing.” He goes, “Wow.” He goes, “You should put this on Flickr.” Well, I didn’t know what Flickr was. (Serge laughs) I mean, I hear it. It’s like that beginning of this. – It was number six on you, not eight. – Yeah. And so, I’m like, okay, I thought like you put
your family pictures, your cat, your dog, pictures. He goes, “No, no, no. “Photographers are putting stuff “and you put it like in a pool of like “black and white landscapes, “sport pictures, whatever.” And so, he at least set it
up ’cause I didn’t know. So I get account and I started putting these edgy portraits in there and people were like, “Whoa, man amazing. “You rock,” whatever. I’m like, whoa. And I’d never, by that time I didn’t have Facebook or anything. I’m like this is getting
some good traction, right? Well and I wasn’t speaking at, I wasn’t a speaker educator at the time. So, I’m sitting there and
I’d look at the comments and you rock, everything, and this guy says, “Not
another three edge sport, “edgy-light portrait. “When are you gonna move on?” And I remember reading that comment and that’s a year into my
practicing this technique. It felt like someone hit me
with a knife in the heart because I was like, he’s right. I’ve been doing this a year. And a little voice said, don’t stop. And I typed back, I’ll move
on when I feel like it. And that tells us a lot about our humanity which is we don’t like
to be criticized, right? Or when someone tells us
we’re doing something wrong. It’s like a knife into the heart. – Yeah, 100%. – And I say this because had
I listened to that one voice I wouldn’t be sitting right here, I wouldn’t be at Photoshop World, I wouldn’t be a teacher because I did not stop and I got, that look got better and
better and more refined, and next thing I knew I started shooting ad campaigns with it. My wife and I after about
five years, six years of that look going out there, I was teaching it, preaching it to every corner of the planet. We’re driving down
Wilshire Boulevard in LA and I look up three
edge-light ad campaign, three edge-light, every single billboard was three edgy light approach. Not that I was the only, I mean but I put it out there. – You put it out there definitely. – What I say is is that
it’s not the smartest people on the planet that end
up rocking the world, it’s the people that do
something more than 99.9% of all people on the planet that rock the world.
– Sure. – [Joel] And so, that’s
why I have confidence in not my talent or roll,
whatever you call it. My confidence is in my ability to go repeat it over and over and over again. And now I know that if someone comes along and stabs me in the
heart with that comment I just go, eh, don’t even think about it. It’s not gonna affect me. – That’s so cool. And when did you get the idea or how did you start teaching ’cause you’re such a good teacher. – So, this guy calls me up, I’m in Tucson, Arizona at that
time and he was in Phoenix, and he says, “I’ve been
looking at your stuff “and would you sit down with me “and kinda show me what you do?” And I’m like sure, I
didn’t know who he was. Well, he was on the
board of an Arizona PPA. – Right. – Professional Photographers Association. – Which I’m part of it. – And I didn’t know what
PPA was, I heard the term. I know what ASMP was ’cause that was more the advertising people hang out. And so he drives down and I sit there and again, I didn’t know he was
part of the board, whatever. And I just, an hour or two, I just showed everything. And he said thank you very much and left. And then two weeks later he calls up. He says, “Hey, we’re
having our big October Fest “and we have about a hundred
photographers come in. “We would like you to be the speaker.” I’m like what? (Serge laughs) And I said, “How did you get me in?” He goes, “Well, I’m on the board.” And I go, “Ah, I didn’t know that.” Well, so at that event, there was another person
that was on a board of another PPA, whatever. I went and spoke at that one and then it just. (rumbles) – You were telling me you do something like 40 dates a year or something. – About 45 events a year
is what I average, yeah. – And you’re such, I remember seeing a video years ago from you, well, first the edgy-lights
I bought all the tutorials and it so inspired me. But also I never really
understood the round brown look. After so many books about lighting and I remember you explaining
you’re just moving that light and how it affects the face, and it was so well-explained. That is so cool. Now, do you, ’cause I get that a lot did you get like photographer saying that why do you reveal all
your secrets, you know? We worked hard to learn this knowledge and what’s your thought on that? – Well, so in the ’90s, well I start on the ’80s, middle ’80s. And so, we didn’t have
like today a YouTube and you have all these
information in front of you. You’d go to the library or say a bookstore and you say a book on portrait lighting, and you go. And it still did not give you the secrets. Now, sounds weird. But it was like you’d have a schematic which is a picture of an umbrella on a light stand with a guy, a little stick figure,
backdrop and whatever, and it just say umbrella. It doesn’t tell you the
information you need. And then you have pictures. You’re like I like the picture but and then you go out and you try it, it didn’t work, right? And I was so frustrated in
trying to learn lighting. And so, I’d ask a photographer, oh, because we’d be a lab. I’d say, “I really like that picture. “What modifier do you use?” They just look at you like, what? Mums the word, they
wouldn’t even tell you. – Yeah. – So it was secrecy all the way across, like the secret sauce. You know, the Coca Cola’s secret sauce, you’re not giving it away.
– Right. – [Joel] And so, it was
really, really difficult to learn photography. And so then as I started getting better, I always had an open door of my studio and people come in and say, “Oh hey, Joel, how’d you do this? “Come here, let me show you.” I never thought twice, right? And I think part of it
is because my personality but it’s because I relish
in other people’s success. – I totally agree. – And that makes a good teacher. And so, by the time I got
to where I was teaching I had photographer friends
call me up and say, “Why are you giving all these stuff away?” And I go, “Why not? “What’s the threat?” They go, “Well, what if they go “and you’re competing against them “at an ad agency for the same job.” I go, “The world’s too
big, it won’t happen.” And so, I’ve never thought
twice about sharing every secret I have. – That is so cool. Yeah and that makes you probably the best.
– And you’re the same way. And I think when you hear you speak and talk to photographers you know and I think that’s
why you’re successful is that when someone’s listening to you they get a sense that you are interested in their success. – Oh yeah. Nothing blows my mind more than to get an email from somebody who says seven years ago I watched
one the YouTube videos and now I have this job blah, blah, blah. I get that quite a lot and I
know you do get that a lot. I mean it’s being able to, you said something also about in French we have a lot of culture, if somebody wants to be
an actor, a director, it’s kind of looked weird. Like people would say, yeah, come on. Stop dreaming and go get a job. I hear that a lot, what’s
your thought on that? – Well, so I was told even
by most of my professors. What my dad said, “Son, look,” he put his arm around me, he loved me, he’d say, “You can’t make
any money in photography. “As a photographer you
can’t make any money, son.” And he didn’t say that just once, he said it like a hundred times. (laughs) And I was living in a warehouse
in Denver with no heat, sleeping on the floor with a sleeping bag. And they’d come visit, my mom and dad would come visit and go, “What are you doing, son?” And they wanted to protect
me from the hardships of this dream that I had
to be a photographer. I say that, I got three boys in LA trying to be filmmakers, okay? And you know how hard that is, okay? You have to go through the steps of being beat down, no money for rent, no money to eat, get kicked
in the gut a few times. You have to go through that. And what happens is 90%
of all people merely quit. – Right. – There’s a few people that keep going. They don’t give up on their dream. And that is the key to anyone
in success in the business is that they don’t give up, talk to, you hear Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know? Denzel Washington, he gives his two cents. What is it? Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your dream. And so, when someone comes along and says you can’t make a lot, being an actor in Hollywood,
the odds are against you. And it’s true. – Sure.
– But it’s possible. Because immediately 90%
of people will quit. – So yeah, I really believe the most important thing is hard work. As you say it’s how you say it, it’s a self-liquidation process what you call it.
– That’s right, yeah. – [Serge] And you see it right away. When somebody has the… You know what I think it is, I think it’s the interest,
it’s the passion. Because if you really like it you will have the energy to go through with those rough times. I, a story I often tell it’s a true story. I almost lost my house ’cause
I was a very successful, I was a VP of Sales of a big company and I was (mumbles)
shares into the company and I gave that up to do photography, and I almost lost my house in the process. But then eventually it turned around. So, as you said, it’s, but I think the message is if you really wanna do it, you can. Now you also said something years ago that really struck me hard, I don’t know if you remember this. It’s the importance of self-assignment. – Yes. So, you got to think about something. When I was studying photography and then I went and got the real world, and I had to go and build some
images of architecture work to go knock on doors. So I had to go shoot,
shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, and then all of a sudden you start getting work and everything. Pretty soon, you wait
for the phone to ring. ‘Cause in your mind you think I’ve done my due diligence and now I’m waiting for the phone. And so, I remember talking
to photographers going, how many, these are people that are somewhat established, right? How many self-assignments
do you get a year? What? They look at me, “Self-assignments? “Unless I get paid I’m
not picking my camera.” And that’s no joke, they would say that. – That’s crazy. – And then I would talk
to some and they say, maybe 10 a year, one a
month, something like that. And I was doing maybe at that time, I would still maybe do 10 to 25 a year, self-assignments a year. And I’ve always done that but when I, at 50 years old when I reinvented myself I made a commitment to make, I said I’m gonna do 50
self-assignments a year. – Yeah, one a week. – Yeah. And that’s I gotta pay
for a model sometimes, sometimes free, trade outs. But sometimes I pay for makeup artists or I get a location I have to get. So there’s a little bit of money involved. You don’t wanna put too much money there ’cause you’re broke, right? But you have to have, make a commitment. Time and a little bit of money, right? We don’t have to pay for film
anymore like the old days but you still have an investment. There’s an investment. – It’s so funny ’cause right
when I heard you saying that, I had been doing interior design photography for five years. I love interior design
but it’s not my thing, it’s not, my thing is shooting Paris. So, I was shooting Paris
for myself on the side. Today I have not done any interior design
photography for many years, what I make more money
on is all the photos from Paris and New York.
– That’s right. – [Serge] And all these self-assignment became my main line of work. – That’s right. – And I remember when you said, I was like, that’s so right. – So now what happens is two things happen when I go and do a self-assignment. One is I grow, right? I get an idea, I look at something, I try something new which
puts me at the forefront of the trend-making process, right? Someone says how can you be a trendsetter? You got to be doing 50
self-assignments a year. – That’s right. You can’t be a trendsetter and sit and watch other people grow. You’d be left behind. Then you build a body
of work that you love. So, commercial work that I get hired for, sometimes ends up in my portfolio. But you know what, my
portfolio is weighted 80% self-assignments, 20% commercial work. So, now I’m building my portfolio with gorgeous images that I love, that I have built that’s
current to the marketplace. Guess what, your career
will just skyrocket because you’re at the
forefront of everything. I was talking to you about Platography and that’s because I’m
constantly trying something new, a new idea, all these things. So, you have to do 50
self-assignments a year to stay current, to be a trendsetter. So I ask maybe 100, 200 photographers in my year or two of walking
around, teaching whatever. How many self-assignments
do you do a year? Zero, okay. So I plotted it out and I found out, I have it written down on one of my slides but there were only 1%
of the people I talk to that did 50 self-assignments a year, 1%. – Wow. – Now, guess who they were. Lindsay Adler. Sue Bryce. Everyone, you. Everyone that’s on stage that’s of influencer in the marketplace are doing at least 50
self-assignments a year. – Yeah, that means they have interest, they have passion, that’s
what they want to do. – Yeah, you can’t do it
with 10 assignments a year. One a month is not enough, one a week is what you have to do. So you might miss a week. – Yeah. – And then I stack it up the next week. – 100%.
– Yeah. – I probably do more than 50.
– I know. Well I’m saying– – I’m constantly shooting all the time. – So, I’ve had people come to me go, “I wish I could be a
teacher at Photoshop World.” And I go, “How many self-assignments
are you doing a year?” And they go, huh? I go you’ll never be or a
Canon Explorer of Light. I wanna be a Canon Explore of Light and I ask them, yeah,
how many self-assignments you’re doing a year? And I go you’ll never make it because you can’t, only
the people that are working every free minute of their time to build their portfolio,
their style, whatever end up on stage or end up really making a good
living with photography. – That’s awesome, that’s awesome. And so, one last thing, you
said you reinvent yourself, so tell me more, a little more about this Plaphotography,
how are you like? – Platography.
– Platography. – [Joel] My assistant and I
were building out our academy and I had to come up with a name. So, we just kinda threw that out. – I think it’s a cool name. – Basically what it is is that we and I just started doing composites and it got, well it’s just
a grief when I started out. Like I was not a true photographer ’cause I was putting
pieces together, right? – You’re taking this a whole new level. – Well, so, I did that for 10 years or so and I started trying to
solve problems, right? And so we have Photoshop is a tool, a camera is a tool. So, I’m an artist now with a set of tools. – Right. – I used to say I was a photographer, now I’m an artist with a set of tools and which happens to be photographer. Photoshop is part of the process, it’s a blending of the two things and the feel, shooting and then later. So now what I’m doing is I’m solving a lot of problems in
camera, I say in Camera. Shooting and then shooting multiple plates or frames of exposures and then later putting
that together in Photoshop with masking or whatever. So, it’s kinda like a composite only I’m shooting all the
elements in the field. – Right. – So there’s no cutting out the hair and everything like that. – It’s not easier, in a way. – In a way. To me, when I say this, I have done more cut outs than probably most people
on the planet, right? – I’m willing to do that. – And I kinda got to a point where I got a little tired of it, you know? And I still do a few here and there but it’s like, so now what I do is I shoot a picture of you let’s say. I got my light over there and get the casted edge light, and I’m doing a wide angle lens say. So I can see my light there,
I can see my light there. Maybe I’m doing, I can see
my beauty dish over the top. It’s all in there but I go and I shoot, lock it down on tripod. I fire a bunch, I get enough to where you get a good expression and I go, you’re out. Then I go and I say, okay, my second subject they’re sitting over in that chair over there. Then I take all, I (rumbles)
put them over there and I set them up and I shoot them just in that corner over there. – And your camera didn’t move. – Camera didn’t move. And then I go and I
shoot multiple elements. Then I take everybody out and I shoot the background plate. Then I put them altogether in Photoshop and I do with mask, I paint you in, I paint them in, paint them in, and you can do this with
just about anything. – That’s awesome. – And so, tonight I’m
gonna be talking about that in Photoshop World. And I say it’s the future of where Photography is going. Meaning that if you don’t get on board with this technique then
you’re gonna be left behind because I can solve
just about any problem. For example, let’s say
I got a beautiful shot and I’m getting this great light. And all of a sudden the UPS truck pulls up and he’s gonna deliver
something across the street and like right in my shot, I’m going, oh my gosh,
the sunset’s perfect. And I’m waiting for the truck to move. Now, click, click, click, do all my stuff, then he moves that, click. Then I have that frame, I just go in, I paint that
truck right out of the scene. – That’s awesome. – So with people, anything. – Yeah, plus everybody’s
perfectly lead, it’s great. – Yeah. And I’m at the beginning of where, so five years from now, nobody’s gonna be shooting
pictures without this concept. – I totally agree. Joel, it’s amazing too, thank you so much. – Serge, it is good. – Now one thing I wanna add, I’ve bought lots of
tutorials from you years ago, I know now you have a webinar which I’m gonna put the
link right below the video which what is this webinar? – Well, so, once again, if you hang out, if we go on a trip, you and
I are taking off to Zion to do a picture or a photo series. The whole time we’re talking I bet you were gonna be
probably talking about how to break into the marketplace, how to market, all those things. Those are the things that I talk about. When we get onto the shooting, I may go, “Hey, Serge,
what are you doing?” And you say, “Hey, I’m
standing on my left leg “and I’m shaking the
camera for some technique.” – Right. – But we talk techniques, yes. But really if you hang out with me it’s about me trying to get you to chase your dream and live your dream. So, that’s what the webinar is. I introduce this you can do it, it’s possible. – Yes. – And then I have built out
40 hours of training now and it used to be that one
hour of training cost you $100. – Yeah, I remember.
– That’s what you paid. – [Serge] I bought three or four. I bought all of them, it
was $99 each I remember. – Now you get one hour for like, what? A dollar or something. It’s like, it’s crazy. – Yeah, you should check it out. Yeah, I think you have the
Joel Grimes complete pack which I 100% recommend you. This man’s changed my life
over and over and over. This is probably the best
tutorials you can buy in terms of portrait and
marketing and everything. But watch the webinar and get the package. All the links are below the video. Thank you so much again, Joel. – Very cool. – And I will see you at Photoshop World. – Good.

32 Replies to “Want to be a successful Photographer – Must Watch!”

  1. Dear Serge ,

    Another inspiration stuff !!!! It was much much better than watching any series episode for 40 mins. Really inspiring & motivating. It’s always a struggle to learn the business aspects than the craft ! I am personally looking to incorporate these. Thanks to experience of Joel & yours. We would really like to hear more about marketing in photography business & strategies to grow influence over social media !

    As always looking forward !

    Thank you πŸ˜‡
    https://www.prathameshdixit.com/

  2. Hi , sorry for not sticking to this video , but you made a video about noise reduction in Lightroom a few weeks/months ago.
    I forgot to bookmark it , and now I can't just find it…..

  3. Awesome awesome awesome, not only was this inspirational but it was so was full of instruction,to help you be successful. I love it . thank you both.

  4. Hi Serge and thank you for this wonderful video. I hope you and Joel give us some tips about self-assignments ideas. Thank you very much.

  5. So nice to listen to you both speak and listen to each other. You are both down-to-earth and I hope you remain that way. Serge, you are a very considerate interviewer meaning that you do not interrupt your guest even though you are a very talented photographer in your own right. You are both inspiring and help to recharge my battery when it gets low. Merci beaucoup!

  6. Make more interviews like that with most wonderful portrait photographers and share the knowledge stuff with all of us. ❀❀

  7. Great interview, it's so good to see the enthusiasm for making photo's and to hear how regular you make self assignment photo's. I'm impressed and feel comforted that being consistent and to keep going is still the way forward. Bravo!

  8. Wow. Love your videos Serge, but this video with Joel was super inspiring. Especially on the business side. Thank you!

  9. Brilliant. Never give up. That's my philosophy. I am 60 And I still think to become an artist. Isn't it great? you are just Joel and Serge 2 Very dynamic person. And of course if we believe and WORK HARD the dreams can come true. Thank you Serge for this video.

  10. Superb video Serge, Joel really is a photographic master, very generous and a nice fella too ! I like he doesn't do BS.

  11. Thanks Serge – I was so inspired by the interview, I bought his masterclass. Thank you for always bringing us such wonderful content!

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