Sometimes with our focus on gear and technique, we forget that the most important resource we have is people. They help us to produce our work, they are the subject of our work, and ultimately they determine the value of our work.
Without people, photography is meaningless. We need people as models, as make-up artists, as stylists, as assistants, as clients, as viewers and as critics.
Anatomy of a Network
I was reminded of the importance of human relationships in putting together a recent shoot evoking a 19th-century swordsman. Yes, I put thought into my equipment and techniques; I used film, for example, and mixed strobes with ambient light.
But what really made the shoot was the team of people I brought together for it:
1. A model. Daniele Favilli is an actor in Italian soap operas and a supporting character in an upcoming feature film produced in Los Angeles, where he now resides.
2. A make-up artist. Valentina Galli is a formally trained MUA with 20 years of experience in movies, theater, and still photography.
3. A location owner. Alessandra Schlatter owns and manages one of the most beautiful bed and breakfasts in Florence, Italy.
4. A stylist. Luigi Balleri, a trainee in historical fencing, provided the outfit and swords for the shoot.
So, how did I pull this team together for my project? Through networking.
Needs and Passions
I ran into my model, Daniele, for the first time in many years at a Christmas party for an architectural firm in December. He said he was between projects; he also needed new headshots. So it was a perfect time for us to do a shoot together.
Valentina, the MUA, is a long-time friend. I knew that she updated her portfolio constantly and was always looking for new projects that went beyond her typical working scenarios. So I gave her a call and she said yes.
I met Alessandra, the B&B owner, just a couple weeks ago. Her B&B struck me for its beauty and the quality of its remodeling, which had been done with a remarkable level of respect for the original materials and finish. The furnishings reflected her past career as an antiques trader. As it happened, Alessandra needed some photos of her establishment, so we were able to barter an exchange of services.
Finally, I met Luigi, my stylist, at the same party where I met Daniele. Though new to the field, he had a knowledge of historical fencing garb and gear, which were key to the shoot.
So all of the individuals had a need or interest in teaming with me on the shoot. But I would add that what made the shoot so satisfying for me is that Daniele, Valentina, Alessandra and Luigi also shared a passion and commitment for making the photographs the best they could be.
Every time we meet someone new, we are talking to a potential model, client, or someone who can help us in some other way. Creating and nurturing these relationships is ultimately far more important to our work than studying the latest camera reviews.