Collaborating With Creatives - Tips and Tricks

Adam Walsh
October 6, 2020

Stock photography usually isn’t a one-man band - there are makeup artists, models, stylists, even decorators, and other types of creatives involved on set. Then it comes to post production and there are even more people involved - retouchers, editors, keyworders, and so on.


Having people on the set definitely makes the job more fun, but it also gives you space for new ideas. However, as the photographer in charge of the shoot, you must give everyone some guidance, and you must know what it is that you need to do to make everyone’s collaboration seamless and enjoyable.


Where Can You Find These People?

Well, where do people find anyone these days? Social media! People in the creative industry, especially those who deal with visuals, such as makeup artists are so easy to find online. You can browse local hashtags related to the industry and try to find someone that way. Additionally, you can use recommendations, ask your clients and colleagues for experiences with different people, they’ll be able to give you first-hand insight.


Wherever you find them, make sure they fit into the aesthetic you’re trying to convey in your photoshoot. If you’re looking to do a series of wedding photos, it wouldn’t be a good idea to get a makeup artist that does body art or Halloween makeup. 


What About Compensation?

Compensation should definitely be discussed beforehand. There are creatives who will help you out in exchange for exposure, or prints they can use in their own portfolios. Others will do it if you take some other photos for their own websites or social channels. However, there are those that work on fixed pricing, or charge per the hour.


Make sure you discuss all the details before you actually start the process so everyone would be on the same page.


Make Your Plan and Vision Clear

The smoothers collaboration happens when everyone knows exactly what’s happening, and what their role is. To achieve this, you should first discuss ideas with everyone involved. Find some images online you can use as a reference, and share them with your team.


Additionally, you can create a mood board and include images of makeup, color palettes, poses, clothes, and anything else you’d like to see captured in the final product. Let your team go through the mood board before the shoot, maybe they’ll have some ideas you haven’t thought of and bring new life to your work.


The mood board should include everything you need for inspiration. This way, you’ll get the clearest idea of the project, stylists will know what type of clothes you want, models will know how to pose, and makeup artists will be prepared to do the makeup the way you want them to. 


When reviewing the board, you’ll be able to give clear instructions to everyone who’s participating, and this way you’ll ensure that no detail goes overlooked - from booking the location to arranging refreshments.


Don’t Micromanage

You’ll obviously give the instructions to everyone, create the mood board that should be followed, etc. However, you shouldn’t try to control every aspect of the photoshoot. You’re working with creatives - trust them that they’ll do the job to the best of their abilities. Give them freedom to go outside the box and pitch in new ideas while you’re working. There’s a reason you hired those people - because they’re professionals and because you don’t know how to do their job.


Besides not micromanaging your team, you should listen to them when they give you new ideas. Leave some space for experimentation, and don’t get moody if someone suggests a couple of changes that could elevate your shoot.


Keep it Positive

If it’s possible, play some music on the set. Take the time to meet everyone you’re working with, grab a cup of coffee during break together and discuss non-work activities. Bring your good energy, and try to share it with everyone involved.


Shoots can take a long time, so it’s important you’re all getting along - you won’t notice that the time went by.

Stay on Schedule

While new ideas and directions are more than welcome on the set, you should still stick to the schedule. Everyone involved probably already has other plans, whether professional or personal, so you should be mindful of their time, as well as their obligations. Start the shoot at an agreed time, and finish when you said you would (or even earlier!).


If you’ve agreed to give collaborators prints, set up a timeline when they can expect you to send them the finished product. Also, focus on creating images they can actually use in their portfolio. Makeup artists would want closeups, stylists would want unique pieces showcased, but also the full picture, etc. 


Build Relationships

The more you work with someone, the better your collaboration will be. After you’ve already collaborated with a few different creatives from each branch, you’ll know who worked out the best for your ideas and projects. Keep nurturing the relationships you have with them, invite them to take part in other projects. After a while, you’ll all know which direction you’re looking to take in every photoshoot and collaboration will be much easier and natural.


Final Thoughts

You’re a creative yourself, so you should know that collaboration on set is essential for the success of your project. You must make sure that you’re hiring people you trust, those who have similar style to yours, and who can spark and bring new ideas to your vision.


Collaboration isn’t easy, and it will take some time to get it right. You can’t expect you’ll get along with everyone you hire, but you can try to make those connections as good as possible, in order to make everyone’s job on the set easier.


Aleksej Vasic

Aleksej is the co-founder and General Manager of Lumina stock studio that has more than one million licences worldwide. With 10+ years in the stock industry, he knows its ins and outs, players and complexities as well as anyone.