Seeking out opportunities for collaboration with others has a number of benefits. Not only does it broaden your network, it can also challenge you and help you grow as a photographer. Webster’s Dictionary has a few definitions for collaboration. The one I’d like to use for purposes of this post is “to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor.”
Collaboration is a process that can and should be employed by everyone — no matter where your passion lies. It’s about getting out and finding people who want to work with you to create something you couldn’t do on your own. By that, I don’t just mean hiring someone to help you create your own vision; I mean seeking out people who have a style or a vision that you like and want to learn from.
Creative Give and Take
Collaboration is about learning give and take in the creative process, and seeing things from a fresh perspective. It’s about realizing that sometimes it’s less about you and your personal desires, and more about what you are striving to produce. Letting go of control (and let’s be honest, we all enjoy control) can be tough at times, but it can also be very rewarding. You’ll be surprised what a candid discussion of an idea can bring to the table.
As an example, perhaps you and a few professional colleagues will decide to shoot a personal project. You meet and decide upon an idea, work out the details together — and more often than not, produce something that is better than what any of you could have done on your own.
I frequently reach out to others when I have some down time to see if we can pull together a mini-project where we can all gain something. Sometimes it may be a friendly get-together where you get a chance to try some new techniques and ideas; other times, the end result is marketable work. Either way, the goal is to learn how to execute an idea as a team to make the result the best it can be.
Collaboration with Agencies and Clients
Sometimes collaboration is thrust upon you. Chances are good you will find yourself in the position where a client comes to you with an idea for an image — or perhaps an advertising campaign — and expects you to execute their concept. More often than not, they won’t just give you a wad of cash and send you out the door only to await your return with a finished file. (Well, this might happen to a select few, but not for most of us!)
No, they are going to want some say during the creative process. Welcome to collaboration!
Here you will find art directors, product managers, graphic designers and photographers, all of whom have their own idea of what the finished piece should be. This is where those personal projects you have done with friends can really pay dividends, because they’ve taught you how to work well with a team. Otherwise, you may be facing an uphill battle — and battling with a client rarely works out well in the end.
When we collaborate with others, we get a chance to see how they approach the creative process. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and by working with others, we can learn what those are and how to best leverage our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses. As an added benefit, we also get the opportunity to make some lasting friendships.
That is why I think it is important to seek out other creatives and work with them whenever you can. You get a chance to grow both as an artist and as a businessperson. It is a fact that people tend to do business with others with whom they have enjoyed working — and in this economy you need every advantage you can get.