If you’re just an average photographer like me, you’re going to have to do a lot more to succeed in the photography world than taking more workshops and attending more conferences. The true artists and creative geniuses of the photography world already have one up on you – raw talent. Give them access to modern social media, and these quirky, eccentric dreamers who were once destined to work for “the man” while pursuing their passion as a hobby can now turn the tables and become superstar creatives. The days of the businessman trumping the artist are over. So what can the average Joes like you and I do to even begin to compete? Collaborate.
I’m a wedding photographer, but I started in photography shooting bands for a few magazines when I lived in South Korea. I actually started even before that in my youth when I
stole borrowed my dad’s video camera to make embarrassing pre-Robot Chicken-esque stop motion movies. Was I a creative genius who was born to make art like so many people assured me? Nope. No way... but I did do something proactive while I began messing around in the visual arts – I worked with my creative friends. I collaborated.
This idea of working with friends is something I continued to build upon after returning back home and starting a wedding photography business as my career. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with other like-minded professionals – from other photographers to hair and makeup artists, flower and cake designers, planners, musicians, and others in the wedding industry. It has been an amazing experience to work alongside people who have the same kind of work ethic and determination as I do – many of whom I would definitely consider the best in their fields. And it’s the ability to be around these talented and business-oriented people that continues to motivate and inspire me to do more for myself and my clients.
I’ve never been the best at conceptualizing something artistic and being able to re-create what I saw in my head. I’m way better and adapting to circumstance and seizing opportunity. I get lucky a lot. However, collaborating with people who are way more creative than I am has allowed me to learn how to start creating images of substance. You know, working within more challenging and personal concepts – the stuff that art is born from. Along with that creative charge comes a wealth of real-world business advice from people who have struggled with the same issues I face.
The idea I’m trying to drive home to you is to surround yourself with friends who love doing the same things you love to do. You'll learn a ton and become all the better for it.
Recently I did just this and worked on a mock wedding with some amazing people in my area. I was approached by my friend Michelle Nikitaras who is an amazing wedding planner, and because of her, I got to work with an amazing crew of professionals I had been dying to meet. It was an awesome day of shooting that has garnered us all new work.
In particular, brides who loved the idea of showing off their tattoos and rock and roll attitudes have been very receptive to the skater-punk wedding shoot we put together and have been contacting me with similar ideas. In an Indiana town full of rustic barn and 20s themed weddings over the last few years, this is a real big win for me personally and as a buisness. And guess what? It all came because I had a fun day of shooting with local wedding vendors and professionals in my area. And guess what else? We will all remember the awesome time we had together and help further each other's work and business due to our newly established friendships.
Throw in access to a private indoor skate park / warehouse and some of the best skateboarders around the area, and it quickly became the ultimate win-win experience.
So get out there and collaborate. It costs you your time to shoot and edit, but with everyone else putting in equal time and effort, the end result is an amazing day of fun, networking, and creative growth. Sure it’s about the photos too, but when you make the day about the experience, the photos will reflect more than a lighting setup; you’ll be showing off a team effort, a labor of love that transcends taking a picture.
The amount of information, inspiration, and motivation to excel that I took away from this day can’t be measured.
Put the same effort into all of your work, continue to make connections with others in your field, and you’ll be well on your way to sustaining a rewarding career in photography.
More photos and details about this collaboration and all the vendor info can be seen at the Pink Pearls wedding blog.
Here are some BTS shots from the whole production.
And here is a video with more BTS on the hows, whos, and whys of it all.