Design, Photography, & Fashion

Commercial Work: Pitching and Working With Clients

Jimmy Chin

Lesson time 11:15 min

Learn Jimmy's strategy for winning commercial clients, executing effective work, and integrating your creative voice into brand campaigns.

Jimmy Chin
Teaches Adventure Photography
National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.
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If you're not familiar with the difference between commercial and editorial work, it's important to understand the distinction that commercial work is really focused on the final image and campaign and to basically present a brand. Editorial work, you're telling a narrative and you're documenting. There's a certain ethos around it. There's journalistic integrity. There is a lot less constructed scenes. The great photojournalists in the world are out there capturing moments as they happen. How that translates in climbing is that, for a commercial shoot, a professional photographer's fine to pose on a climb, and maybe they've never done it before, but it's really about collaborating to create this end objective, which is this specific image that we're trying to make. In editorial, if I was to ever ask some professional climber to pose on a climb that they couldn't do or haven't done before, that would not be OK. If people found out about it, that would totally take away from their street cred and that would, you know, label them as a poser. So, in a different scenario, in a real-life kind of social story about, let's say, the opiate crisis in the United States, and James Nachtwey is going to go shoot it, he's not constructing these scenes. His craft is to go out and shoot it as it's happening in real life and positioning himself to get that perfect image and to do the amazing compositions that he does, on the fly. And it's just very different. [MUSIC PLAYING] Working with an agency and a client is very different than going out on an editorial shoot where you have a lot of creative freedom. On an editorial shoot, the expectation is that you take your creative freedom and you express that and you come back with a series of images. On a commercial shoot, it's usually much tighter. Much stricter. More restrictions around the creative. They have an idea. They have some specific shots that they want you to bring back. That area varies as well. You know, some commercial assignments have a specific image that they want and they know exactly how they want it shot and exactly how they want it to look. And then there's kind of a spectrum. On the other end, it's a commercial client saying, hey, we love your work. You know, here's the kind of broad strokes of the idea. We want you to go out and do what you do. Then there's everything in between. So you need to pay attention to the client's needs and you need to pay attention to the creative agency's ideas. It's important to understand what the expectations are, understand how restrictive the creative is, and then work with the agency and the client to hopefully take that idea, make sure you execute on it, but then, if you have some better ideas, don't be afraid to pitch it and don't be afraid to try it. And a good way to set that up is to talk to the agency and the client and say, hey, look, I know I can get this shot. Let's deliver on it. Here are a couple ideas I'd like to do if we...

Push the limits of your photography

Jimmy Chin has built his career taking photos at the top of the world, earning him the cover of National Geographic and multiple awards. Now he’s taking you on location to teach you techniques for capturing breathtaking shots. In his photography class, learn different creative approaches for commercial shoots, editorial spreads, and passion projects. Gather the gear—and the perspective—to bring your photography to new heights.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Hearing Jimmy's Story and finding similarities between my own path through photography provides affirmation to inspire me to chase this dream to the next level, a career in photography.

The best one so far. A good balance of personal stories and experiences / hands on material. Good stuff.

Exactly the way a course from Jimmy Chin should be. It referenced mindset and inspiration, the way great mentors do. Incredible.

I am super motivated and pumped right now!!! I am trying to take the next step in my photography and this helped me a lot!


Peter S.

Pretty much all of these classes are completely Worthless. I came into the MasterClass with a lot of questions and expectations. Should I get a teleconverter lens? Tell me in your 20 classes many scenarios that you use different lenses. Tell me why this f-stop is preferable. What are the settings of your national geographic photos? What are ideal combinations of f-stop, Iso and aperture to get proper photos outside vs inside. Midday vs night time, etc. Jimmy Chin ends up talking about things like "you need to allow yourself to fail." Yea, no kidding, I already learn those lessons everyday in my own life and my own career. This is a waste of money. I literally learned more about photography from the first 5 minutes from ANY YOUTUBE VIDEO or from the first five minutes of any photography book or the first 5 minutes from taking a photography class. He just wastes your time telling you stories about when he was a kid, waiting tables, working for his mentors, how Conrad is his best friend, etc, etc, etc.

Kenton M.

That is so true what all Jimmy is talk about. Always put your best first! :D

Shayne O.

I think there is that fear of undercutting yourself just to get a job. Good Advice.

Jim C.

Really useful information if one wants to do commercial work. I have zero desire for that, but I see the value for those who do. The editorial (photojournalist) side was less fleshed out. But he did mention that one cannot control the image/story and especially not direct it. It's a much more passive shoot. Some top photojournalists have lost their jobs because they staged a shot, or manipulated the image past what was allowed at the time. For a editorial/photojournalist images, basically the only manipulation allowed are things that could be basically done in a darkroom. So exposure control, burning and/or dodging, cropping .... Never removing elements by cloning them out. At least at this moment in time. Some examples:

Kacey M.

how does one know to create a budget for a big project . Can a budget include equipment needed? where are the lines drawn between budget for the shoot and what you're expected to provide yourself? how much is a photographers time worth in situations like these?


This is a very practical lessons with lots of GREAT tips on dealing with agencies / clients and ultimately making a REAL long-term career. Thanks.

Ricardo A.

Super helpful for anyone wanting to do more client work. It's not for everyone...

Alex M.

Wow, what a fantastic lesson. This has to be the best one yet. I agree wholeheartedly about the journalistic integrity Jimmy spoke about. I can't help but think about Steve McCurry and his manipulation of images shot on editorial.

Jorge B.

Confidence is key, paying attention is important. Work as a team to build and execute. Not be afraid to pitch or say an idea.

Lori M.

I am loving these lessons because I am a fan of Jimmy Chin's work. And the scope of these classes was fairly laid out in advance, so there have been no surprises. But I am not a professional photographer. What I am is a fairly new outdoor climber (age 65) with a passion to capture everything I can on my camera... even selfies. I wish there was some instruction on just how to capture something I am seeing with my eyes onto film. (digital). An amazing rock formation looks like a mound in my pictures. I realize it's probably photography classes I really need... even for capturing the faces of those I see, including my grandkids. But I'm picking up hints... such as, taking the bulk of pictures in the morning and evening. That's probably common knowledge, but not for me! An upcoming trip to Joshua Tree... I'll see if my picture-taking improves after listening to Jimmy.