How “rockin’ a beard” will help your commercial photography!

Share – The bearded Mike Newton from Hacking Photography.
Inspire – Colourful restaurant photograph, and how it was created.
Create – Tips to get you started with commercial photography.

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Video Highlights & Time Codes:
(00:59) How “rockin’ a beard” will Help your Commercial Photography
(01:41) Adding to the photographer mystique
(02:31) Colourful restaurant photograph, and how it was created
(02:43) SIG-Show-Einstein-Bros-Bagels
(03:35) Teach more people about commercial photography
(06:53) Parq Cover – first magazine cover
(09:19) Parq Spread – Man eating place
(10:01) Shooting tethered into a laptop
(13:13) Parq Inside Spread 2
(13:23) Diversity of the images
(13:37) Work with the client
(14:21) Tips to get you started with commercial photography
(14:39) Get to know other photographers in your area
(15:29) Software – Blink Bid

Show Notes:
Share Inspire Create

How “rockin’ a beard” will help your commercial photography!

Share – The bearded Mike Newton from Hacking Photography.

  • quit my job at the end of October of 2013
  • not need to be professionally presentable
  • decide to stop shaving for a month
  • adding to the photographer mystique
  • grow my beard down to the waist

Inspire – Colourful restaurant photograph, and how it was created.

1st image – SIG-Show-Einstein-Bros-Bagels

  • mostly shot in natural light
  • 17 millimeter tool shift
  • got paid 3,000 bucks
  • was really fun
  • to teach more people about commercial photography
  • like to do is a $2,000 day rate plus Licensing for one month

2nd Image – Parq Cover

  • first magazine cover
  • a big giant glass wall with mirror
  • shooting indirectly to a mirror

3rd Image – Parq Spread 1

  • detailing the restaurant
  • double page wide layout
  • nine different images
  • shoot tethered into a laptop

4th Image – Parq Spread 2

  • diversity of the images
  • work with the client

Create – Tips to get you started with commercial photography.

More tips on commercial photography:

1. Get to know other photographers in your area

  • learning how to price
  • learning how to put together licensing contract

2. Software – Blink Bid

  • input all your details
  • gives out a suggested quote
  • free tutorials




parq Spread 2


Johny: Hey guys what’s up? Its Johny here and welcome to another episode of the SIC show. And s always I’m super pumped to be here. And I’m here with my main man B. How are you my brother?

Brent: I’m feeling like I want to hack photography today.

Johny: This week we interviewed awesome commercial photographer Mike Newton and find out about beard.

Brent: Yeah and he actually inspires us with amazing double paid spread out of a magazine from his commercial photography. Photographing a restaurant and how he actually did it. And then he gives us all sorts of commercial photography tips.

Johny: That’s awesome man. Let’s get into guys.

Brent: Awesome, enjoy.

How “rockin’ a beard” will Help your Commercial Photography!

Brent: Alright Mike, share something with us that not many people know about you.

Mike: Well it’s probably very obvious by looking at me. But the beard is getting quite long. I decided that ‘when I quit my job at the end of October of 2013, since I didn’t really need to be professionally presentable anymore that I would decide to stop shaving for a month. It was kind of getting into the no shave November. And I made it through that and though “Alright what about leave and go on a 5 week vacation to the New West to visit the family. Maybe I’ll just shave when I get back.” And then after that I just decided “you know let’s let it go a year” and I hit the year and decided “okay maybe we’ll see if we can get this thing to my waist” so that maybe it’s adding to the photographer mystique, right? The artist look but I decided I’m going to grow my beard down to the waist.

Brent: Awesome.

Mike: So might as well once in my life it’ll something fun to do.

Brent: So tell me when are you going to join the band “Easy Top”?

Mike: You know thank you for knowing that preference. There’s almost as like this age gap where everybody, myself included above a certain age. So it’s an easy top preference. Everyone below it is duck dynasty. So it seems to be you know the thing that kind of gives away your age depending on what reference do you use.

Brent: There’s gonna be a time when you actually shave it. There’s some kind of event or life.

Mike: You know I don’t have one planned. But I Know I just want to put in one big giant braid and then just kind of leave it.

Bent: Awesome, well thanks for sharing that Mike.

Mike: Absolutely.

The bearded Mike Newton from Hacking Photography

Brent: Alright Mike, inspire us with some of your amazing images.

Mike: Sure, so I think maybe the first one to discuss is probably the one Einstein Bagels location. This was really a fun one. In that the image itself not necessarily super remarkable. It was mostly shot in natural light using a 17 millimeter tool shift because with all my architecture and interior photography I have to do that to keep in line and straight. What was exciting about it was they found me thru my website because I kind of find my little niche of doing restaurant photography. And really the most exciting part about it is I got paid 3,000 bucks for that one single image and it was kind of a fun day. Because they in addition flew me from San Diego, California where I live up to Boise, Idaho literally to come up and shoot one single image, board the flight then come back home. So it was really fun and that commercial photography which I’d love to teach more people about can be really rewarding. It was really fun. They were super happy about it. And really that image was shot for this specific point of they were going to be running an Ad in a magazine. That was an industry magazine. So really it was a pretty simple shot. It really wasn’t anything miraculous but just the use case of the fact that I had commercial benefit because they were going to be running and Ad campaign. With it I was able to charge a licensing and really make the day
you know very profitable.

Brent: So is that like a day rate for you, the $3,000?

Mike: So typically what I like to do is a $2,000 day rate. And on top of that is just licensing for one month industry magazine you know one page Ad sort of thing. But yeah I mean that’s typically what I find a good starting point and of course needs to break that into a half day or a quarter day and things like that.

Brent: I love that image Mike. It’s very clean. I mean I shot a lot of real estate indoor or real estate stuff and yeah it’s just perfect. That’s nicely and brightly lit. It definitely shows the bagel shop, the retail store and yeah awesome. Did you shoot that without people on purpose?

Mike: Well yes, they wanted it empty because they kind of wanted to show off the location. This woman that I worked with, the client, her part of the business is I can’t remember what they call it. It’s something like non-typical avenues or non-typical revenues. So rather than putting them in malls and things like that. She’s in charge of putting them in interesting venues like airports for example. So they were going to be running an Ad in airport revenue news. It’s an entire industry magazine just for people who are looking to open up businesses in airport. It’s hyper specific, really specific. But they kind of like to show off the location without people so fully challenged with a super busy day. It was on a Sunday and I only have about 2 hours to get that shot. They still give me plenty of time but ultimately I had the kind of set up the shot. I brought my laptop with me. I will shoot tethered to the laptop.

Brent: Okay that’s interesting.

Mike: So I was able to really kind of make sure that I could see the image properly every perspective by zooming in then I just kind of setup the camera on my tripod and just kind of waited it out ultimately. And that’s actually composite of a couple of different images because we’re so busy I never actually got the space where it was totally empty across the whole spot. So I would shoot this spot and then later on I have to blend in this side to make sure that there weren’t people in both. It’s kind of a little tricky to make sure the exposure was perfect on both sides because as the sun starts coming down I can obviously change that. So it was a little tricky but it came together.

Brent: That’s what commercial photography is all about you know getting the product, getting the actual image that the client wants. You know even though you got all these restrictions with people and light and everything. Awesome, let’s jump to the next one Mike. So which one do you want to talk about next?

Mike: So that was a really fun shoot. So that was an actual and it was first for me. That was the first magazine cover which is always exciting for a photographer. And I shot these images for the designer. So the designer is incredible. The name is Davis Ink and that’s INK because Davis himself is kind of rockaBilly dude. Really big puff guy and he’s probably in early 40’s. Sleek black hair, just sleeve tattoos. You know thick black frame glasses and so Davis has all the ink. So it’s a really cool name; very Southern Californian thing. But he’s a hell of a designer. And typically he has lot of very high budget bars and restaurants and clubs in Southern California. So companies will come to him in order to really design the whole interior/exterior, all the furniture, a lot of custom-made stuff. And the venue in case in this example was called Parq. And it’s a nightclub/restaurant. It took over a previous nightclub and restaurant. This thing is huge. I think I want to say its 10,000 or 20,000 square feet. I mean it’s a big venue. It used to be a big giant bank that they converted but I don’t know what the budget is but it was high millions of dollars.

Brent: Okay.

Mike: So it was a fantastic shoot. And it was really tricky to shoot. The cover was shot in the restaurant portion. It was actually a wall, a big giant kind of glass wall with the big mirror in it that looks back into the bar. And it was really fun and tricky to shoot to make sure that I didn’t show up in the reflection.

Brent: Okay.

Mike: So I was shooting indirectly to a mirror and then getting the reflection behind me.

Brent: Okay.

Mike: So I had to clone out a part of my camera so if I’m showing here on the screen I mean I was like here on the edge of the frame and had to kind of clone that.

Brent: So you’re on the inside, they’re shooting out right? Is that right?

Mike: Right yeah I’m shooting inside the club into mirror and try to bounce it back to the rest of the space.

Brent: Okay, right.

Mike: So it was really cool. But it was very tricky coz if you’ve ever shot into a mirror and trying not to show up, it’s kind of impossible so it kind of work around on that one. But they chose that one for the cover. And then the next image is the one that’s inside the spread that’s detailing the restaurant. That’s a big kind of double page wide layout. And that was the man eating space. And that place was incredible. That was so difficult of a shot. It may look like it’s very naturally lit but that’s a composite about nine different images to come up with that final shot.

Brent: Yeah how did you get the white balance right there?

Mike: So the white balance I shot, I shot that actually just let auto-white balance. But the trickiest part was there wasn’t a whole lot of light inside the space. So again I shot tethered and I always do that with clients. So a low pro tip here if you’re ever shooting for commercial or really anything of the most part, if you can shoot tethered into a laptop or even a larger computer if possible, that puts you in a whole different league of most of your local photographers.

Brent: Great tip, yeah.

Mike: This group was just blown away because typically most photographers are shooting and then and turning around to see this tiny little 2 inch LCD but we’re shooting on a MAC Air which is still really compact but really zoom far to the image so that we could pan around and see all the details. There it is wow no one’s ever done that to them before. So if you want to differentiate yourself, believe me if you’re gonna bring a laptop, I’ve actually brought my 27 inch iMac before the shoot as well.

Brent: Okay.

Mike: Kind of put you into a different league.

Brent: Awesome tips, so why did you have 9 images did you say?

Mike: So the problem with that shot is it’s so dark in that room. It was really dark. So I brought a bunch of Alien bee’s lights and other things that I had to shoot from various angles across the room to light up the different pieces but believe it or not I didn’t remember to bring a flashlight which is kind of a must-have for interiors if you’re an architecture photographer. So I kind of double a 7D and I literally brought my iPhone. And what I would do is I would set up the exposure. I think there were maybe 10 second long exposures properly exposed that I would just turn on the front flashlight of the iPhone and I would run into a shot and then I would just use the iPhone to paint over each individual booth and that light would actually light the individual booth specs so then I would come back. I actually had the gal from the design agency and I would literally have her click the button from the laptop every time I was ready to shoot n actual shot. So I would shoot that then start a new exposure then I would go and light the next booth, light the next booth, light the next booth. So we did that on all 6 booths. I did on this grill on the camera right. I did on the front table. So collectively I couldn’t have done that without showing up in the frame. So I couldn’t have done that on one single you know really long images. Each of those was composited and afterwards for each of the booths since they are all light painted.

Brent: That’s incredible.

Mike: It was really cool but it took a little while otherwise there was a lot of post done. That was mostly just blending in this booth and this booth and this booth. The base exposure didn’t change because the light was controlled.

Brent: Now that’s incredible, I mean you obviously knew what you’re client wanted or knew what you wanted. And then you just figured out how you do it; how do you light up each individual area when you actually don’t have the lights on set to flash all at once. So that’s a great tip over there.

Mike: I did have all the lights so I brought 5 or 6 different travel lights with me and stands and triggers. And I tend to load a bunch of gear. The problem is that I wouldn’t have been able to shoot without all the gear showing up all across the room. So that’s why we had to kind of do that light trick. It was pretty helpful.

Brent: Okay awesome, and then let’s go to the last and that’s another inside spread looks like.

Mike: Right, yup and then really the other valuable lesson just to see the rest of this inside spread was just the diversity of all the images. This place was huge and every little looking cranny was so vastly different that I think it was helpful to have a couple sets of ice on it. So I’d play another tip is if possible you definitely work with the client if they’re willing to come with you. Not many will just release you and hope that it comes out well but really working with the client. So literally the agent who was there one of the other gals that works there as I was shooting I mean we would go back and look at the laptop every single time and go “okay what do you think about this?” and she would say “I need this area a little bit brighter, this is a little dark, can you kind of fades some lighting over here, this needs to be more red” so you know really dialing in an image with the client was really helpful.

Brent: Yeah that’s a great tip. Awesome Mike and those are amazing images. Thanks for sharing the story behind the how you took them.

Mike: Sure.

Brent: That’s awesome, thanks.

How a Colourful Restaurant Photograph was created

Brent: Teach us how to create something so maybe a few more tips on commercial photography that someone listening to this might want to know.

Mike: Sure, right so a couple of things. I think first and foremost a lot of the photographers that I know and I shoot with I’d say that is a big tip is get to know other photographers in your area. I know that I know that’s probably a basic 101 thing but as with any business you know everyone starts off fresh. Everybody doesn’t have all the answers so with me learning how to price, how to put together licensing contract, I didn’t know how to do all that stuff. That was new to me. So I reached out to other commercial photographers; of course one that didn’t compete the same spaces. And they were more than you know happy as long as I didn’t friendship on their clients. They’re more than happy to share that as well. So you know how I go up pricing this if they’re going to need 4 images that are going to take me 6 hours and they’re going to run in a magazine for 6 months. So one tip there is there’s software that you can do a free trial for called Blink Bid. And its blink like your eyes blinks. And then bid. And it’s phenomenal. So basically that works so that you will be able to input the type of category you’re shooting in. The type of license the client needs. So in this case you know this was the kind of hotel restaurant category. These guys needed an editorial license because they were going to run and Ad magazines which they were able to get it on the front cover of one. And basically just input all your details all the way down. It brings up things I never thought of. So it does a lot of work for you. And then when you hit enter it spits out a suggested quote based on you know the rest of the market.

Brent: Okay, so that actually get information from the other photographers you using the software to know what the average spend is or how do they?

Mike: Right, they also work with you know major photography communities as well that all work towards the industry so they kind of its free environment of photography just to make sure they’re getting their due cut. Their due cost there so a lot of times is much higher than you would expect if you’re just trying to choosing yourself.

Brent: That actually used to be software little plug in on one of the website I can’t remember and I used to go there and have a look. There used to be a free thing I think it was in a Commercial Photographers of America Association or something like that. That’s where I used to get my information but I couldn’t find it the other day. I had someone in my community asked you know how much t charge a certain shoot. I look around the web I couldn’t definitely find it. But that’s great tip.

Mike: I see if I can look that up because it would be valuable to have and I’ll share that with you so that you can out in the video because that would be a really good link to have. And they have a lot of free tutorials, free talks you know things like that as well.

Brent: Well, that’s awesome.


Johny: Man that was a great interview with Mike. He’s got the wickedest beard ever. I love that bad boy man seriously. Endz wouldn’t let me have that wouldn’t you hon?

Brent: No she wouldn’t. I’m trying to join him see?

Johny: Really? Man you better get the 5 years to go bro.

Brent: Well this is like a months’ growth for m.

Johny: I know. You grow so slow. And that’s why he has no hair. That doesn’t grow anymore.

Brent: No it doesn’t. It’s all over here.

Johny: Oh man it’s a great interview. And what great tips on commercial photography mate.

Brent: Yeah Mike is an expert for commercial photography and you know I love the story it tells of that magazine cover, the spread, that restaurant is crazy.

Johny: It was amazing man. It’s like every little look there was something different. You can get it seen.

Brent: Yeah

Johny: It’s so awesome. It makes a great place to photograph.

Brent: And those tips he gave for commercial photography, thank you Mike. That’s amazing, yeah awesome.

Johny: It was great man and epic show. Mike you’re a legend. Thanks for being on and guys if you want to contact us, we’re going to be in the lounge always. We’re always there buddy.

Brent: Yeah totally.

Johny: And you can also hit me up on twitter, it’s ijohny. There’ll be link in the notes below. If you love the show what are they going to do?

Brent: Give us a rating on iTunes. And by the way guys, Mike’s got a special for you from his website and basically hacking photography is a “quick hacks” for learning fast. That’s what he says. Basically he’s taking the 80/20 rule and just the things you needed to know to actually learn fast. I love his website. Try it coz it’s awesome. So he’s got his Lightroom presets that we got a discount on so just clink on the link above or below, wherever it is.

Johny: One day we’ll work out where the links would be.

Brent: Yeah I know.

Johny: Yeah men there are awesome presets so check them out already. So yeah man jump in and grab them because.

Brent: It’s awesome.

Johny: Special deal for us man which is epic.

Brent: Definitely and yeah that’s about it guys for the show.

Jonhy: Another great show man and we hope you enjoyed it and as always leave some feedback and comments. And we’ll see you next week.

Brent: And one more last thing. I actually interviewed Mike for my Photo Profit podcast. So if you do want to know more about commercial photography. All the little things that you need to do to actually have a successful business. Go to Photo Profit, my podcast, my audio only podcast. And Mike and I spoke for about over an hour actually.

Johny: That’s crazy.

Brent: And he gave lots and lots of great information on how to run a successful commercial photography business and if you’re just starting out and what to do.

Johny: Yeah man that stuff is priceless. And if you’re ready to jump from amateur to pro which all that means you’re not getting paid for being a photographer make sure you’ll check out Brent’s podcast coz that’s what it’s all about, right buddy?

Brent: Totally.

Johny: Awesome man.

Brent: Yeah living you know making money out of your passion.

Johny: That’s it, which is awesome man. What a great topic.

Brent: Awesome guys.

Johny: Alright guys, take it easy. And have a great week. See you next week, bye.

Brent: See you next week, bye.

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