Make Exceptional Photography with Corey Nickols – Part3


In this episode of the Fashion Photography Podcast
we meet Corey Nickols (@unicornfightclub).

In today’s episode: The value of working with good people.
The process of proving concepts and what’s important about it.
What to do when someone else is taking over your set?
Syndication! How to protect yourself and how to start the syndication process?

You can ASK US HERE everything you’d like to know know and we’ll answer in the next episodes!

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Hello, my beloved creatures!
Hello photography lovers!
It’s time for part three of our interview with Corey Nichols. And today we’re going to talk about the value of working with good people.

And you know that this is a super important topic for me. And it’s obviously a very important one also for Corey.
So we’re going to share our thoughts on this. Another big topic today is proving concepts and the process behind it,
Corey is going to share some details from his experience connected to us what to do when someone else is taking over your set.
Again, my guest is going to share some very personal stories, and he’s going to tell us how he welcome those moments. syndication is another big topic today,
how to deal with the rights of the photographed people how to protect yourself and your business and also how to start the syndication process.
These are just some of the things that we’re going to talk about today. But before the start of the interview, I would like to remind you about our friends from Lucy’s magazine.
They’re waiting for your beauty and fashion editorials. And on top of that, they’re looking for their next cover, and it can be your photo, so there is no reason for you to wait.
As you probably know, guys, this is the fashion photography podcast.
My name is Virginia and I’m a fashion advertising photographer, and also your host. If you’re a regular listener, you probably know that every Wednesday we’re here with a guest.
And every other Friday, I’m giving you some tips and tricks on how to become better in your business.
So if you think that this podcast is helping you, you can help us by little donation of $1 or two per month, just by supporting us on Patreon,
the address that you need for that is slash photography podcast. Again, slash photography podcast.

And now it’s time for an interview!

I agree with you that it’s a hard industry. But at the same time, if you’re innovative enough, for example, what you did with the licensing photos process, this is a great way to monetize your photography, there are many different ways that you can monetize your photography. And it’s not always coming just from the client today, you have to be innovative. I think this is even helping your creativity not in terms of finding money, but also in terms of shooting more interesting projects. And, of course, people say that depressed artists are the worst. But if you’re happy with what you do, I truly believe that eventually this is going to bring money in your pocket.

Corey Nickols
Oh yeah, people notice it to one of the comments I get because I love to shoot my insects Bill and I love to shoot all that stuff. Whenever I’m photographing people, I get really into it. And I’ve had multiple people comment on Wow, you’re very passionate, but very good at shooting insects film, it translates out and people can see when you’re passionate about something, it naturally comes up. And we got enough depressed artists like let’s we elevate a little bit. Yeah, exactly. Yes. It’s and I trusted me and I get depressed too. Because I am as well.

Virginia Y
Do you because I cannot say that from you photos. And I don’t know where this conversation is going to bring us You said this about resonating with other people. And I cannot agree more. So when it’s asked who was the person that you resonated the most with during your photoshoot?

Corey Nickols
So I’ve two people in mind. The first would definitely be Tony Hale. For those you don’t know Tony Hale is he is currently on Veep. He was also Buster on Arrested Development. And anyways, Tony Hale. It’s one of those shoots where I was getting ready. And I had props on the table. And the only person I’ve ever voted I still this day who came in and comes up to me says Hi, I’m Tony. I introduced myself to and he says, Hey, whatever you want to do, we’re going to do it. And I was like, Oh my gosh, it’s basically just like even before the shoot even started, like I’m gonna go get ready. But he’s like, whatever you got in mind, I’m up for it. I was like, Wow, I’ve never had anyone just be so open before the shoot saying like, hey, like, I totally trust you with your vision. Let’s go forward with it. Because most of the time, it’s like, I have to prove my vision and my concepts and everything and, and rightfully so. But even we had a set amount of time to shoot. And he’s one of the people where I want to respect and honor that time. So we got done, and he looks like we can keep going. These are great, very, very nice guy. I absolutely love Tony Hale, such a class a very unassuming, very humble guy. And those are the people I want to work with. The last night I just shot the TCS, my favorite person I photographed through all the people that I photograph, my favorite person was john Walsh. And that’s not going to come up as a name that you might recognize, because john Walsh used to run a show called America’s Most Wanted, and I grew up watching this show where he would go on live TV and they do reenactments of these like crazy crimes I’d been committed. And their whole goal was to catch these terrible people. The amount of people that they caught through this was just unbelievable. But john wall’s comes in to our photo booth. And he shakes everyone’s hand, he goes my digital, he goes me It goes, my assistant goes to our producer with Getty. And he introduces himself to everyone. And so nice, he didn’t have any time frames, he just he wanted to shoot nicest guy, right. And for me, at the end of the day, I just want to photograph people who are nice people, I want that. I think status and all these things that you’ve done as accomplishments, kudos to you, because there’s a lot of hard work that these people have put in to get to the place that they’re at. And I’m very excited for those people. But all of that kind of fades into the background if you’re mean, and not nice about it. At the end of the day, I get really excited to work with people who are kind.
Me too. Yeah, if you don’t want to be in front of my lens, cool. Like, you don’t have to be in front of my lens. I don’t need this shot to define who I am as a person.

Virginia Y
You said that you had to prove your concept. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about this process and how it goes?

Corey Nickols
Typically, people want to see examples, mood boards, you know, if it’s an ad job, you have to come up with the it’s like the dreaded treatment process, which a treatment basically consists of how you’re going to fulfill every single need within the photoshoot and the dress action, you’re going to take the photoshoot. And a lot of times I think the last one I spent about, I don’t know, six to eight hours making this treatment. And of course, you’re going up against three different photographers. So you’ll spend six, eight hours and then you’re like, oh, didn’t get the job well, as a days days worth of work, but Oh, well. Sometimes that happens. A lot of times, though, it’s so much better when you’re in person. Because it is because here’s the thing like me trying to describe the creativity or me trying to establish trust, everything is based around trust, right? Like people have to trust that you’re going to do a good job that you’re going to not make the client look dumb or wrong. Or you know, so everyone super favorite also I find the people who are the least creative have the biggest opinions about the ideas that you have. And vice versa people have like typically the the biggest ideas tend to not be so bullheaded about their ideas, because they’re like, I don’t know, is this a good idea? I’m sorry to doubt my ideas. And that’s the biggest dilemma that I come into. So I’ll try and take photos was a props, I’ll take photos of ideas. And I you know, I’ve had people were literally I’ll spend an entire day taking photos of props, presenting ideas, presenting multiple ideas. And literally, the publicist will just kill everything. And I’m like, Well, I guess I’m just going to show up with a backdrop right, or I guess it’s kind of sad, because I find the people who get the most excited about the work that I do. It’s because they’ve allowed me to do stuff. I hired a children’s illustrator to come up with my logo. Why? Because I’m not going to attempt doing the logo when I didn’t have schooling on it. I don’t have the background for it. Like, I don’t know anything about logos. So why would I ever attempt to do a logo? The same thing with being creative and coming up with a process? Even hair and makeup and hair and makeup on the sometimes last me like, Well, what do you want? I’ll describe some What do you think’s going to look best? Because I did not go to hair and makeup school. So for me to start interjecting on what I feel like is going to be the best. It’s inappropriate, and somewhat, like degrading for the person who spent all this time doing what they do, like those people know what’s gonna look good, what’s not like, you hope or at least you hire them, like with the hopes that they are really good at what they do. So let them do what they do. I think you definitely need like direction. Obviously, if you’re doing a 60s theme, shoot, obviously, I’d be like, we need some bigger hair, we can’t do a slicked back Look, it’s got to stay within the frame of the direction of the shoot. But I’m not going to tell someone how to do their job. I’m just gonna collaborate with them and encourage them to do the job they’re meant to do.

Virginia Y
Have you ever had a moment when someone is just taking over your photography skills?

Corey Nickols
Hundred percent?

Virginia Y
Oh, tell us the story!

Corey Nickols
Oh, which one?

Which one would you like? Man I’ve had I’ve had times where actor actress will just completely deconstruct my entire setup because they want lighting to be a very specific way. I’ve had some shoots where the publicist will completely take over the shoot. I’ve come to a point in my career now where I see when that’s happening. And I have to regain control without destroying the photoshoot and making it weird. So I have to walk that tightrope. But I I’ve had so many times where there are some people, and this is the thing, it’s like, having empathy and understanding towards other people

Virginia Y
…is awful…

Corey Nickols
It’s so you have to understand who the person is that you’re talking to. Right? Because there’s some people where they just need to see that you’re confident in what you’re doing. And everything’s great, right? Yeah, for those people, I’ll be confident even if I’m in the back of my mind, I’m like, I don’t know if this idea is going to work or not. But I find also sometimes the best thing is, if you’re shooting something, and it’s not working, just be honest about it. Don’t say, Oh, this is awesome. This is amazing in the background, like this is garbage. Like what am I shooting? That doesn’t work. Sometimes the boldest thing that you can say is, hey, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else. Yeah, because then it establishes trust, because then this person’s like, oh, wow, he will acknowledge that the shoot is not working. And we’re going to try something else. So therefore they have the best interest. And that happens. And I would rather be honest about it. But it’s like anyone in any career anywhere, you have good photographers who are nice, you have bad doctors who are very mean you have doctors who will be thorough with you about explaining the conditions that you are having, and then you have other people who they’re just terrible to be around. And I think every profession has that same goes with publicist, I think there’s publicist who are phenomenal do an amazing job will obviously step in if they feel like things are not representing their client, which is what they’re meant to do. But then there’s other publicists. I had one publicity in particular, completely manipulate the entire shoot. And not only that, but rally everyone against me, were literally they had hair and makeup. And they convinced their client, the things that I was trying to do was a terrible idea. And then they would like then say you need to do this, this and this and tell me what the new vision is. And then for me, I’m like, I don’t think that’s a good vision. Because that’s not something I would shoot, I’m on this shoot, to shoot the stuff. That is how I see the world, not how you see the world. If this was an ad job, I’d be like, yeah, whatever you want, like your vision is my vision. We’re going to make this happen. But you know, when I’m on an editorial job, where like my assistants getting more money than me, and then I got to put up with a publicist who just wants to completely control the shoot. And then I’m left with just a terrible feeling after the shoot, because I gotta live with that ghost of I wish I had stepped up more and gotten them to do things that I wanted to see, not things that the publicist wanted to see. And look, not every publicist is like this, I have to stress that enough. There are some great publicist I’ve met who are definitely not like that. But there are some publicist who just they’re mean, and and, and that’s, that’s any industry? I don’t know if that answers the question or not. But yeah, I’ve run into it all the time. And the biggest thing is, obviously, be polite. But I find that there’s some people who are geared towards if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, a lot of times, those people just need to be confronted, and just told, and you need to stand up. And you also need to show people how to treat you. And that’s all they just need to be shown how to treat you. Because then if you’re showing them how to treat you’re showing them how to respect you, and then you won’t have problems or if you do the problem is on them not respecting.

Virginia Y
I love this advice. Thank you!
Usually, when you’re giving your photos to the syndication, do you have to work the rights with this publicist?

Corey Nickols
The nice thing is when you get to a point where you can have a rep, or you can be syndicated. You just let them deal with all the things that I don’t even I let them just have a heyday with it. I’m like, yeah, you guys can figure out pricing, you can figure out if this image is even okay to be published. I’ll let you guys just deal with that. Because that’s what they do.

Virginia Y
That’s awesome. And have you ever done this by yourself?

Corey Nickols
Oh, yes. And I hate it.

Virginia Y
Oh, tell us more about this.

Corey Nickols
Well, you know, talking numbers talking, all that I love all that. And because it’s partially the dyslexia where I would rather talk it out. And a lot of times, it’s all negotiate through email. And so you’re missing out on a huge personal element, when you’re doing emails, sometimes you can miss read stuff. So there’s that problem. But then I also run into the problem that I’m very naive in a lot of ways. I like to think that everyone has their best interest for everyone else. And I know that just incredibly naive. But I think because I always try to view people from their best perspective of this person is obviously trying their hardest, because I would always want to try my hardest or try to be kind towards this person. So I always think that people are viewing the world like I’m doing the world. And the problem is, I am very wrong.
And that there’s a lot of people out there who don’t give a rip about you and just want to use you. I don’t realize that a lot of times, so then there’s a lot of times where I will be taken advantage of because of that, because I’m so easily trusting of people. So having someone who knows the industry knows that there are not everyone’s a shark, but like there are sharks out there that want to get you having someone handle a lot of the financial side of it. And dealing with that is is such a godsend because I, man, there are some times where I just totally screwed myself over because I think people have my best interest in hand when they don’t.

Virginia Y
And do you have any advice for protection of the people that are listening right now and they’re not having reps, but they want to start with this syndication process?

Corey Nickols
Yeah, the biggest thing is, and this is just photo, this is life in general set boundaries up front, and make sure things are established up front and make sure that people know where you stand up front. Because if you don’t set those boundaries right away, if you don’t know where that person is coming from in their walk of life, you know, you don’t know if that person grew up having to manipulate people to get what they want, or just to survive. You don’t really know anyone’s background up front. So therefore, if you can just explain to people who you are a little bit and the things that you stand for, like for example, someone wants to do a photoshoot great. Establish a budget immediately. Don’t wait until the photoshoot is about to happen to establish a budget. Don’t wait till after the photoshoot. And I say this from personal experience. There have been times where I’m like, yeah, we’ll come up with a budget and no one wants to talk about money. And then we do the photoshoot. And then I’m like, you didn’t have money? Well, I’m dumb. You know, like, everyone’s been in that position. But you have to set boundaries initially, in order for people to properly respect you the way that you want to be respected. As for doing syndication, reach out to people reach out to photographers, photographers, I find, if you like their work, tell them that you like their work. But a lot of times photographers will respond back to you true. Yeah, so it’s always worth taking a shot. And here’s another thing, if you send an email, and they don’t get back to you wait about two to three weeks, send another email, you’re not annoying them. A lot of times people are just so busy that the email could be getting read during a photoshoot, and then it just gets forgotten. Or you’re in the middle of something, and it just gets left behind. So you’re not annoying someone for emailing a multiple times, just obviously, wait maybe two to three weeks and let them have a chance to respond and then hit up again. And let me tell you like, if you just keep at that someone’s eventually going to get back to you because they’re going to want to be able to check that box off of Okay, I got back to the person who keeps contacting me great. So lovely advice.

Virginia Y
And what about an advice for someone who’s already shooting for syndication and shooting some amazing people. And they need to handle this process of negotiating with the rep of this amazing star. The biggest

Corey Nickols
thing that helps is to separate yourself from the actual work. Sometimes there are people who will make up a studio manager, I don’t do this. But I know that there are people who do, they’ll make up a studio manager, and the quote unquote, studio manager will handle the shoot. And that way it can remove the photographer from having these hard conversations with that person. It’s very helpful. I mean, sometimes obviously, the photographer needs to be in person to talk out concepts and whatnot. But what’s nice is if you can disassociate yourself from finances, because finances is the one thing that everyone gets very touchy about. If you can bring a different element in where they’re not associating you to the fact that you’re trying to get paid properly for it, it helps to keep the balance of relations intact.

Virginia Y
Another awesome advice, you’re just so good at this.

Corey Nickols
I think I’ve struggled for so many years, I’m like, Oh, I learned that learned that I learned all the hard way to I got all these things I’m saying I’m only saying because it’s definitely something that I have learned the hard way by experiencing firsthand,

Virginia Y
Tell us about the moment when you used to or did your relationship with your representation.

Corey Nickols
There’s a company called photo works. And I love photo works. What it is, is it’s basically speed dating for photographers, you get 15 minutes of face to face time with people in the industry. And they offer everything from editorial, to advertising, to raps, to just a lot of different stuff. And they have these meetings twice a year in New York once in LA. And then they have other meetings throughout the United States. But they’re great, because all the people that you’re meeting up, you’re meeting up with them on their terms, their conditions, and it’s a great way to have people get an idea of who you are. So through this, I actually started meeting up with greenhouse wraps, which is who I’m rep by, and I met up with them once followed up with them with emails so they can know who I was, then I met up with them again, I think I met up with them three times over the span of about a year and a half. And they were constantly impressed with the way that I presented myself, my portfolio, all that and just in general who I am as a person. And so they decided to bring me on. But the process of getting a rap is very long. Like it’s not something where if you go out and say I want to get a rap, you’re expecting it to happen within the month. That’s extremely rare, it can happen. But that’s very rare. It’s a process that definitely takes a year, two years, because a lot of times they want to see are you just a flash in the pan? Or are you someone who’s actually going to be in it for the long run,

Virginia Y
Once you met your reps, or what makes you so sure that you want to continue you with them and you want to sign the contract with them.

Corey Nickols
It was a number of things. If you’re going to approach photography, you need to approach it from the perspective of you don’t need certain things to get to certain places. Like for me having a rap was more so the cherry on top it wasn’t it’s not the thing that’s going to define me and, and I talked to photographers, often who are angry at their rap because the reps aren’t getting them work. And for me, I realized that there is a certain game that you have to play in order to progress forward on certain things. So for me, like ad agencies, for example, I want to shoot more ads, because the reality is, ads are paid ads are very paid, very paid. As a photographer, especially in the industry that I’m in entertainment in and of itself, there’s not a lot of income. Like for me, the best bet that I have is syndication and shooting key art, which is like the movie or TV promotions that you see, those are the two dynamics of celebrity portrait work that actually pays like, you know, magazines aren’t paying, it’s more so glorified promo. And in order to get these things, you’re working with companies that expect big productions, the thing that I did in the process of looking for a rep was when I would go to these photo works meetings, I would meet up with a lot of ad agencies. And they would always ask me, so who’s your rep, Do you have one? I would say no. But then I started asking people who do you like working with. And because for me, if I’m going to bring someone on, it’s kinda like a marriage, you don’t ever want to go into a marriage thinking that this person is going to make you a better person, you want to go into a marriage, knowing who you are, and being able to bring that into the marriage. Your spouse cannot carry the weight, or boyfriend or girlfriend or whoever, they can’t carry the weight of that expectation. It’s unfair for them and most relationships fall apart. Because of that, they’ll just put way too much weight on the other person. So same thing with a rep, I don’t want to go into it expecting my rep to be the only thing that gets me money. That’s ridiculous. What I do want to do is to enhance the efforts that I’m bringing to the table. So when I meet up with these ad agencies, I would ask them, Hey, what do you think about like, Who are some of your favorite reps to work with, because if they like working with them, that’s great for me, because it makes me look good on both levels. If a client likes my work, but hates working with my rep, that’s going to be bad news. And let me tell you something, there is a huge reputation for every rep out there, whether it’s good or bad. And I quickly found that out, I quickly found that there’s a lot of reps that are these ad agencies where I do not go with them. But the one name that kept coming up from every ad person I met up with was a greenhouse I love working with greenhouse and greenhouse has been around for about, I think 16, 1718

years as well. So they also have history. It’s not like they’re quick flash in the pan, they’ve developed these relationships over time. And obviously, they’ve sustained those relationships, they haven’t burned bridges. And the person who reps me, specifically Gary, him, and I have the exact same ideas on the way that we should go about our business. And that is truth, you should never lied anyone period. Because then you don’t have to try to remember what you said to that person when you lied to them. If you’re constantly telling the truth, you’ll never have a problem. For better or worse, it doesn’t mean it’s going to save you anytime or like people aren’t going to be mad at you for some things. But at the same time, you never have to think twice. And people at the very end of the day can respect you on the fact of Oh, he’s very honest. And that’s something that’s really necessary in this line of work. all that to say, I know that we’re transitioning into a period of ad agencies are more and more okay with just having a really good producer instead of a rep. And I recognize that that’s the new trend that’s coming up. But I like having a rep that people like and enjoy. Because of the fact when I do these meetings on I’ll say on rep by greenhouse, odds are they’ll look at me totally different. They’ll respect me. And then half the time, they’re like, oh, what are you doing next week, you want to stop by the? See, I’m like, Yeah, that’d be great. I see my rep as a means to further the door to broaden possibilities.

Virginia Y
I’m very interested to know, what was the portfolio that you showed them.

Corey Nickols
I pride myself on my my portfolio. I’m very old school in that I want a physical tangible portfolio. But I also do it in a very different way. First of all, I like I said, in the beginning, I’m very hands on and want to be able to do everything from beginning to end myself, right. So my portfolio, I print off myself nice. I find it myself, I figured out a method for all that. But then on top of that, I want my portfolio to be me. And for some people a prefab portfolio works great like that. And that’s and that’s really cool. If you have a clean style and you like a black leather portfolio or something that you can buy off b&h or, you know, your local arts and crafts store cool. Like that’s, there’s no I’m not downing any of that. But for me, I’m a very colorful person, like I want people before they even see my work, I want them to know exactly who I am. Period. So I found a company in LA that makes portfolios for very, very reasonable price. And they’ll do custom portfolios, in that you provide the fabric, they’ll make a portfolio out of it. So cool. So cool. And so what I would do is I would go on Etsy, or I go on these different websites and try and find fabrics that I like that are linen fabrics that are thick and are able to not wear out if they’re on my portfolio. And then I got really into I found a couple of really rare Japanese fabrics that I’m obsessed with. And I ended up having to order half of them from the UK and then the other half was from Singapore or something. And I’ve since I’ve never seen the fabric on sale ever again, because I think they ran out. But I have this really colorful, crazy portfolio that’s very one of a kind. So like the case of it is this insane fabric. And automatically if anyone sees my portfolio, like without opening it, everyone’s very interested about what’s inside because it’s colorful, and different.

Virginia Y
You can check out for his amazing portfolio on photography where you’re also going to find a big donation button that you can use in case you find our show valuable. As you know, we love giving back. So in exchange for a day or two per month, you can get some pretty cool perks, check out photography and I cannot wait to see you next Wednesday when we’re going to continue with part four of our amazing interview with Corey. If you truly love it. Let us know by giving us an honest review on Apple podcasts. And thank you guys so much for being with me today. And I’ll see you on one thing


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