Collaborations - What Nobody Ever Tells You

Collaborations are when a model and photographer work together on a project and both benefit. The model gets images out of the collaboration, and the photographer has a subject to photograph. If the collaboration works out well, both can add to their portfolio. This should be like a win/win, right? But is it?

If the model and photographer are precisely at the same skill level, this can be a win-win, but otherwise, one of the two parties will not benefit, and one of those two can lose big! Let's break this down further by role.

  • The Experienced Photographer: If a photographer is experienced, their desire to work with brand-new, inexperienced models will be less. They have worked years on refining their craft. A very experienced photographer will only be interested in collaborations with new models if the model has a specific look they want to add to their portfolio. Professional photographers might not collaborate as they have a steady stream of work. If they do collaborate, it will be with established models. 
  • The Experienced Model: an experienced model is likely not doing a lot of collaborations as they have refined their craft and are focused on taking paid work. If they take on any collaborations, it's often very selective and they work with an experienced photographer to ensure the outcome adds to their portfolio.

Great - so far, no issues, so where is the pitfall?

  • New Models: If you are a new model, you are probably anxious to get your name out there in the community. You might be tempted to say "Yes" to every collaboration that comes your way. This is where risk enters the equation. If you collaborate with everyone who asks you, your image can reach many people - great! Well, great, as long as the pictures are perfect, right? As a new model, you are building your portfolio, but if bad images hit the community, is that the brand you want to build? When a casting agent does some digging on your look and sees many "meh" images, are you sure you will be picked for the part? The risk to the model can be significant. The photographer owns the photos; if the content is not ideal, little can be done, and you have diminished your brand. 

Collabs - How to Protect Yourself

Here are a few tips to protect yourself.

  • Photographer Feed: If someone asks to collaborate with you, look at their Instagram. If you see blurry, out-of-focus models that don't look great, what will you get? Or the photographer is pushing people into spaces they don't want to go, and you can see that in the expressions in the image.
  • Bring a Friend: Never go alone to a photoshoot - bring your BFF.
  • Agreed-Upon Concept: Have a concept agreed upon ahead of time and don't change it on the fly.
  • Contract: The details of the collaboration should be agreed upon ahead of time. The gives/gets are important and should be defined. How many pictures are delivered, how long will they take, etc...

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