Becoming a Photographer – Collaboration
If you’re anything like me, as a creative person (whether you’re a florist, a dress designer, a writer or any thing in between) there’s probably a gap between what you want your portfolio to look like and what it actually does look like.
This is even more true if you’re just starting out and you’re either not getting paid work at all or you’re not getting to book the types of jobs you ultimately want to be working on.
You wish you could photograph/style/write about something in particular but until you’ve demonstrated that you can photograph/style/write about that specific thing, people aren’t likely to pay you to photograph/style/write about that thing because they won’t have any evidence that you’re capable of doing it.
In addition the jobs you are paid to do (if you’re doing paid work at all) might have a very specific brief. You might want to photograph/style/write kick arse rock and roll style weddings but if your portfolio is full of more traditional affairs, you’ll find it difficult to get the clients you want. If you wait for the right clients/products/jobs to come to you, you might be waiting for ever. If you want it, you kind of need to make it happen.
Personally, there are a few things I’ve done to try to get the clients that I want to be working with and one of them is working on colaborative styled shoots. Setting up a shoot gives you an opportunity to push yourself and develop, to flex your creative muscles and to meet new people that might become, at the very least, new friends or at best a source of referrals or future recommendations.
So how do you go about making the contacts to set up fabulous shoots with lots of cool props/details, interesting backgrounds and input from people who will make it an enriching and worthwhile experience?
I’ve been involved in two styled shoots now and I have more planned for this year and they’ve all happened or are due to happen because of social networking. And mostly through twitter.
I guess the process of integrating myself with like minded people on twitter went a bit like this:
1) Follow people from all sectors of the industry I work in/want to work in
2) Chat to people in all sectors of the industry I work in/want to work in
3) Go to tweet-ups/networking things (even though they scare the bejesus out of me!)
4) Make industry friends
As an aside, all of the above steps kind of have to be taken in a non-cynical, uncalculating way. If you are chatting to people because you want something from them, they’re probably not going to be hugely receptive to you. Be nice, make friends, be interested in what other people are up to, not what you can get out of them!
As far as getting involved with shoots goes, I actually suggested the first one to blogger I’d got talking to on Twitter. Sara of Under the Vintage Veil was pretty new to the wedding industry and I thought that a shoot might be good fun and beneficial to both of us.
We got other’s involved by putting shout outs on Twitter, we set up a pintrest board to brain storm ideas and Sara found a venue that would accommodate us.
As well as gaining from the experience by making lots of lovely new contacts, we went on to get the shoot featured on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, resulting in publicity/exposure for all of the businesses involved, which was an added bonus.
I got involved with the second shoot through Twitter too. I saw people I follow talking about arranging a shoot. And, rather boldly, I offered to photograph it for them and they said yes.
Both times I was terrified. I was WAY outside of my comfort on the first shoot and I really felt the pressure, especially given that there were other industry people involved who were relying on me to get good pictures of their products. It went without a hitch and I had the chance to do some creative work that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do and I really learned from the experience, so the next shoot I did came more naturally and I had a better idea of the process involved.
I wanted to hear about other photographer’s experiences of working on styled shoots so I had a chat with Fiona Kelly who told me about a collaborative shoot she worked on recently.
Fiona got together with Helen of Helen Carter Weddings and Liz of Blue Sky Flowers to work on a really lovely detail based styled shoot all about succulents.
The aim was to create two very different inspirational looks, one elegant & contemporary and one more rustic & natural, that introduced brides to some new ideas for their wedding themes.
Fiona told me that, for her, doing styled shoots of any kind is a wonderful way to be creative, show new ideas and generally inspire couples and, also, other wedding industry people. It allows you to work with people you admire and develop relationships with other suppliers, as well as giving the freedom to explore ways to work. Fiona said that “it’s something that I loves doing and will continue to do as a way to really challenge myself creatively”.
I couldn’t agree more. Working on a shoot requires a totally different approach to shooting a wedding and taking the time to think creatively and conceptually will then impact on the way you work in the future.
What do you think? Have you collaborated with other industry people? How has it impacted on the way you work generally? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Succlent Shoot – The Credits