Creative Collaborations Lead to Commissioning Clients

In a world of social media at the tips of our fingers, we have an abundant amount of content waiting to be tapped into. Whether it’s a peer raving about a tethering software such as Capture One, a productive conversation on a controversial yet iconic image, or a supportive engagement associated with a team on their photographic results, these are all essentially marketing examples.

As a portrait photographer that specializes in headshots and weddings, all of these are examples that also talk to me. I see these in my social media feeds daily and a lot of the times they are even organic. What do I mean by organic? Well, anything that’s not paid for or “boosted”. Organic marketing works best when there is a rich amount of engagement on a particular post. There are a few factors that can help with this, such as the time of day or the day of the week that you post along with which social media platform you are posting to.

I know if I want to promote my headshot work, I will post on LinkedIn at the beginning of the week, usually Monday’s or Tuesdays. However, I know for my portraiture work, it’s generally better to post on Sunday or Wednesday evenings on Facebook. When it comes to my Instagram, I know overall I receive the best engagement when I post first thing in the morning, no matter the content. Now think about that one for a second. How many people do you think check their phones and social media when they first wake up? Probably a lot more than you think!

Knowing these few tactics and using them almost religiously, I have learned that one particular type of post tends to create more engagements and has led me to quite a few commissioned jobs – my creative collaborations. What I’m saying is that creativity leads to clients and this is exactly what I want to talk about today!

So let’s first dissect creative collaborations, what are they? Well a collaboration, is collective effort where everyone donates their time and talents towards a vision or end goal. It could be as small as just the photographer and a model or you can have a robust team consisting of a hairstylist, make-up artist, designer or stylist. If you have a larger team, that’s going to have more credits associated with the posting, which in then will create more engagement for everyone as whole. Together, our work lifts everyone up! So now we have this engagement that’s buzzing in the community right? People who may not necessarily be on your friend’s list, but on a team members friend’s list see your work, they are impressed. They reach out, network and soon discussions about future work begins. I’ve had this happen to me quite a few times over the course of my career. I want to break this down for you in the different phases this tends to pan out while sharing a few examples of collaborations the commissioned work it led to.

It Sparks with a Vision

This is where it starts, whether it’s inspiration from a time period show, lyrics from a song, or simply a color or texture. The first embers of start here, and it’s up to us as the photographer to stoke those embers into a fire. Research, research, research! Then create an inspiration board, either using print clippings or a board on Pinterest. Both have their benefits, Pinterest is easily more sharable via text or messaging, but an inspiration board is tangible and a nice visual aid to have on set!

Collaboration / Commissioned
Team Work makes the Dream Work

After dialing in your vision, the next step is forming the team. Who is right for this collaboration and do they bring the right energy? Each artist I choose to work with has a specific style or niche that I know would be perfect for the vision. An artist that only has experience in editorial looks may not be the best if you are going for the avant garde. Make sure they have the ability to take the vision to the next level. So now that they have the talent, do they have the personality? Are they positive energy or do they have an ego? If they can’t check the ego at the door, maybe they’re not best for the team. Energy attracts like energy, so the more positive vibes you have on set, the stronger the team and the end results will be.

Collaboration / Commissioned
Ready, Set, Go!

Now it’s time to execute what you’ve been planning. You’ve created a vision and formed the team, now comes the day’s logistics… the execution of what you and the team has been creating. A tool I find most valuable with this process is a call sheet. Basically, it’s a cheat sheet that has all the pertinent information such as day and time of the photoshoot, the location, the team members with their contact information, roles and any specific instructions and sometimes a sample or two from the inspiration board. Having all this in place will help make the day flow better and promote teamwork, something a potential client will realize if you are detailing this in your blogs upon release.

Collaboration / Commissioned
Into the Digital Dark Room

You’ve created and executed the vision, the team’s work is done, now you create your magic. Which images will you retouch and which will end up on the cutting room floor? How will you tell the story? Will just post images or will you post an inspirational quote that fits the mood? Will you blog? Yes, you will blog! This gives value to the image! Sure, we all love a beautiful image, but what all went into this image? Tell that story!

Collaboration / Commissioned
Coming Full Circle

This is the moment we all chomp at the bit for! The social media release, will it be a full blast of all the work over the course of the day or will it be a calculated release across different platforms? I highly recommend the latter. As we, the team, begins to post, we start to garner engagement, and with everyone tagged and their roles, we all get our work out there in front of thousands of eyes. Although I may not land even a lead on a collaboration, the make-up artist or designer, may pick up a commission based off the work we did! And if no one does, no harm, no foul, we still all walk away with nice portfolio pieces and an experience of camaraderie and the honing of each our specific skill sets!

Collaboration / Commissioned

So now that we’ve covered all this, let’s re-cap on the benefits of creative collaborations–

• Team player, clients will see that you work well with others.
• Planning, client will have confidence that you can execute a vision from start to finish.
• Growth, creative collaborations for me tend to be where I grow the most as I have the flexibility to explore and play.
• Tools, a collaboration is a perfect opportunity to document and showcase your tools via BTS (behind the scenes). Clients will feel more comfortable hiring talent with a professional or industry standard set of tools.

I’m a firm believer in paying forward, and I hope by sharing this information and my experiences can help you as well! The time may not always be there for creative collaborations, but when it is, make it count and push the heck out of the team’s work!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments!