We caught up with one of our friendly faces, Corey Nickols, to talk about the recent growth and changes in his career. Earlier this year he was signed onto the artist roster for Greenhouse Reps, after meeting them at our New York City Portfolio Review event, where they have been repeat reviewers. Now being signed with a very reputable name in the industry, he personally notices a huge difference in the way people look at him and his work. While it is subjective whether having an agent is crucial or not, Corey finds it has definitely given him credibility for who he is as a photographer, which makes having an agent very important to him. He recently had a meeting out in Los Angeles with RPA Advertising, and the one reason they invited him was because they saw he was signed with Greenhouse.
Much of Corey’s success with his career has been his hands on approach with marketing, which is why you can always find him at a handful of our FotoWorks and BLVDSelect Portfolio Review events. And it has paid off for him, because it pushed him to create the future he has and always wanted. The contact he’s made at our events are people he’s continually had a relationship with and reached out to time and time again. Corey’s work has graced the pages of publications like Entertainment Weekly, Emmy Magazine, Esquire, and Essence, and he’s even given a TEDx talk.
More so recently, Corey has been transitioning his work in a direction he’s always wanted to go with it, and that is into the world of key art. Key art, by definition, is “the singular, iconographic image that is the foundation upon which a movie's marketing campaign is built.” This also applies to television promotion as well. Corey recently booked his first key art job, and potentially has another in the works, but we’ll have to wait and see along with the masses how it all turned out, as NDAs have been signed for the projects. For these key art assignments, though, Corey is creating all the necessary photographic elements for the graphic designer to build out the promotions for a show or movie.
He has noticed a trend ground through the industry as a whole where many companies are starting to internalize their photographers. 2017 has panned out to be an interesting year for him, as he has had slower work, but the work he has gotten have been incredibly big. It has been a challenge to convince people to hire out, but he is lucky to have his repeat editorial clients, as well as FOX Studios and MMT ad agency who hire him frequently as well.
Another trend that has ended up working in Corey’s benefit is that many ad agencies out there want GIFs along with the stills the photographer is hired to shoot. MMT in particular loves it, as they do a lot of online marketing, so having a GIF as well is like a bonus asset they can submit for online purposes. When he’s on a shoot, he will do a quick burt whenever he has the time on set— editorial or ad— and will then turn that burst into a GIF. He can then send that out to the client on the spot, making it the little things that puts him ahead of everyone else. On the last ad job he was on, he blew the clients away. They couldn’t believe he made something on the spot that they could then send off immediately to corporate. Typically the clients are used to working with photographers who have a longer turn around, this gives Corey the edge on everyone else.
On his bigger ad jobs, though, he is usually shooting on a digital medium format camera. These cameras won’t give you the ability to shoot a GIF that easily, as the files are big and clunky. In these cases, Corey ends up playing around with an app he discovered on his iPhone to make these well sought after GIFs. Apple in the past few years rolled out a function on the iPhone that created live photos (“a combination of up to a three-second .mov file and a still .jpg file that is taken automatically when you press the shutter button in your camera app”). For awhile, no one really knew what to do with these files, which turned into apps being created to turn these live photos into GIFs. Corey uses the app Lively on his iPhone to create these quick motion components to his shoots. He takes the modeling lights on his sets and shoots the GIF that way, and in less than a minute he can create a fun GIF to send off to the client. He finds little things like that keep the set rolling and the client happy.
As mentioned, Corey has utilized his GIF making skills on his editorial sets as well. He shoots a recurring series for Emmy Magazine called “Me and My Emmy”, where he quite literally shoots people with their Emmy Awards, but in an unconventional, exaggerated manner. Upon showing up to the location, he has an hour to figure out where exactly he’ll set up, what he’s shooting, talk to the person about the concept, and snap the photographs. On one of these sets he was photographing a stunt coordinator named Peewee Piemonte, where he was to showcase and display the talent that comes along with running stunts. In the photograph, Peewee is sitting on a couch outside next to a man set on fire, both relaxing casually as if nothing is out of place. Corey made a GIF which showed the process of him being lit, put out, and relit. This sequence happened about 5 different times, and in the GIF you can even see the fire extinguisher come in every few frames to put him out.
We’ll be checking back in with Corey next month for our bigger piece on motion, where he talks to us about directing music videos and how it felt to be so hands off with the camera.