The Oxford Dictionary defines collaboration as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” Pretty simple right?
It really is that simple. You know that old proverb; “Two heads are better than one”? Well, that phrase has been around since 1546. We still know it because it speaks the truth.
Collaboration will improve your photography, regardless of the genre that you photograph. Keep in mind that, just like anything else in life, there are good methods of collaboration and bad methods of collaboration. But hey what fun would it be if we didn’t have to put in a little work to get good at it?
Let’s establish a few habits that you need to embrace, learn and practice if you want to be successful as a collaborator. We can call these Personal Collaboration Skills (PCS).
The most important collaboration skill is listening. Listen first, then listen some more and then talk. Making sure that everyone has the opportunity to share their ideas or feedback is crucial to establishing a safe and productive process. It is important for your collaborators to be acknowledged and to feel that they have been heard.
Also, an important collaboration skill is the ability to be flexible and adapt. This is also an important element of creativity. If you are stuck in your ways and mindset, you will not grow creatively, and your work will become predictable and stale.
If listening and flexibility are to be successful, you must remain open-minded. The entire point behind collaborating is to enhance your own creativity with the talents and creativity of others.
5 WAYS COLLABORATION WILL IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY
1. Collaboration requires communication
Working with other people opens the door to new ideas and influences that you would not otherwise have access to. Collaboration gives you access to life experiences and talents and skill sets that you don’t have. Talents that will have a positive impact on the finished project or image.
2. Collaboration brings education
When you work with people who have different skill sets than you — makeup artists, models, stylists, designers, assistants — you have the added benefit of learning from their experiences.
I have always viewed collaboration as an opportunity to learn and grow. Even in the early days of my career, I was confident in my creative choices, but collaborating gave me the opportunity to get feedback and input from other creatives who also had a vested interest in the outcome of the project.
3. Collaboration is efficient
Like I already mentioned, “two heads are better than one”. Two or more people collaborating well together can do more in less time.
4. Collaboration aids problem-solving
How many times have you been hard-pressed for a great new idea or found yourself stumped for something new and creative to do? Or worse yet, have you ever had a great idea but no idea how to achieve it?
Collaborating allows you to get another perspective. Having that additional input can help you solve problems or find the spark that gets you over the hump.
Collaboration prepares you for clients
Making money as a photographer is less about your photography than it is about your ability to communicate and get along with other people. Working for a client is a form of collaborating where you are being paid to participate in their project.
Photography, like other creative pursuits, attracts introverts. I’m not saying all photographers are introverts but for many, photography becomes the path to better social skills and social interactions — that was certainly the case for me. I was a very shy kid and in my mid-teens, photography became my confidence builder.
Today, younger members of society struggle with anxiety and social interactions. The truth is, ALL generations struggle with anxiety and social interactions. Most people, when they purchase that first camera or begin to use their smartphone as a tool to really create, it generally starts out as a very personal and even selfish pursuit.
But in order to truly excel, collaboration is an integral exercise in helping a shy or introverted photographer learn to communicate and to build confidence in their ability to work with others and share their photographs with others.
“Collaboration has never been more important for professional photographers” Joe Edelman
Benjamin Jones, who is a strategy professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois, shares research that has shown our individual knowledge is becoming more and more specialized. “There’s more and more to know in the world, and you can only have so much in your head,” he says. “So the share of stuff you know as an individual is declining in any field.”
I have to agree that this is very much the case in the photography world.
The incredible cameras that we now use, if we are to be honest about it, are computers that are capable of recording images. Cameras no longer shoot stills OR video, they do both, and professional photographers are routinely called upon to do both.
As a still photographer, when I began making YouTube videos, I quickly realized that the learning curve wasn’t just video, but it also included audio and the editing of both audio and video, which is much different from what we are used to in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Since we live in an image-driven world, photographers are routinely called upon to create in styles that they may not be accustomed to. Collaborating with people whose skill sets can contribute to that look or feel or technique helps to insure the success of your project.
The software that we use for post — production is advanced and full — featured and overwhelming for many. Outsourcing steps like culling, post — production and high-end retouching can not only elevate the quality of a photographer’s work, but it can also save tremendous amounts of time which leads to the ability to do more work for a greater profit.
Final thoughts on collaboration
I could share many more reasons and scenarios for collaboration, but that is not my point. Remember that ALL genres of photography can benefit greatly from collaboration.
Most importantly, I want you to be aware that collaboration is not something that you do when you “need” to get something done. Collaboration is a process and skill that you should start sooner than later in your photography career. Collaboration is not just for professionals, it is for every photographer who wants to create the best images possible.
I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because – “Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!” — Joe Edelman