Of the things that I’ve learnt over the last year and a half (trust me there’s been a lot, I was faaairly clueless) the importance of good collaboration is probably the one which has made the most impact.
It sounds obvious but being a good photographer is only really a half the battle – well actually it’s probably less than that. Having a talented team by your side – whether that’s a food and/or prop stylist – makes or breaks a shoot and choosing the right people to work with is a real skill in not only having the confidence to say ‘no’ to opportunities that don’t actually work for you, but to also really know your style, which can be the other half of the battle. Or have we run out of halves?
Being a photographer can be quite a lonely experience at times and it can be difficult to really develop your style when you’re shooting on your own in your down time (nobody wants to experiment with clients around) so personal collaborations have been the key for me to really work on my style.
It doesn’t just stop at stylists though, going out to shoot with other photographers (like at Kew) has been hugely helpful to me and has been something I want to do a hell of a lot more of. There’s so much competition in the photography world that sometimes its easy to fall victim to the comparison trap and isolate yourself with feelings of self-doubt but my best advice would be to find a group of people, or just one or two, who can push you. Stop seeing them as competition and start seeing them as colleagues in a global community that on the whole, just want to appreciate each other’s work.
It’s also a hell of a lot more fun than standing around in your pyjamas, greasy haired staring down at the shots in front of you and wanting to scream WHY ARE YOU NOT WORKING. When there’s someone else there expecting the consistency of your own shots there’s the extra incentive not to f*ck it all up. To really take the time with your composition. To really think about the photos you’re taking rather than just snapping away. Having that extra pair of eyes, another person to push you and make you better is one of the best ways that I’ve managed to improve what I’m doing.
Thankfully I’ve somehow lucked out with the people I’ve met and chosen to collaborate with regularly, not least of these is Joanna Reseik. A brilliant trained chef, recipe writer & stylist all wrapped into one with a handy DREAM apartment to shoot in – which helps when your flat has pink walls and a zebra print lampshade, two things I originally failed to notice in the desperation to stop living out of a suitcase and delay the inevitable unravelling of my mind. We spent the day together cooking, shooting and eating in her flat and this is what happened…