Being a photographer, you can sometimes feel like you’re walking down a path all by yourself. Of course, you’re always surrounded by those that work by your side day in and day out. On set, you’re surrounded by your team. That team work is one of the things I love about being a fashion photographer – it’s a collaborative environment where every mind adds to the power of the team. Beyond that, there are always new opportunities to work with new creative people. BUT That’s the creative side of the business. When it comes down to it, the Business of the Business of Photography requires you to put on your CEO hat and that can be a lonely road.
Earlier this year, a colleague, fellow ASMP NY board member, and photographer Jan Klier, approached me to see if I was interested in forming a collective of fashion photographers.
A few days later, The New York Fashion Photography Collective was born. The idea is simple: we’re all in New York City, we all shoot fashion, we all shoot a little different, we all respect each other’s work, and we all produce quality work for our clients look books, advertising campaigns and marketing collateral. By joining together some of our marketing efforts and resources, we are stronger and our network is larger. We also have a built-in team of like-minded people to bounce creative ideas off of and discuss client issues and business ideas.
Upon forming the Collective, we told a few friends and many took notice; for most, there was a curiosity and buzz that was beyond powerful because we were doing something different. Some said, “Wait? Don’t you guys compete against each other? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” Do we really compete against each other? In my opinion no. When hiring a photographer, clients look at a photographers style, their personality, their history… If I’m not a good fit stylistically, maybe another Collective member is a great fit. By helping the other members of our collective, we’re also helping increase the visibility of ourselves.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that there are a few famous teams in fashion photography that have been very successful and different. Mert & Marcus, and Inez & Vinoodh come to mind. Of course, those are different dynamics, but show the power of not going solo.” says Jan Klier “Our clients expect team work from us. By demonstrating that we can work as a team, we’re adding an important element to our respective brands.”
Jan and I are the Founding Members of the New York Fashion Photography Collective, and a couple weeks ago Liam Alexander joined on as a member. As our Collective grows, we will also begin to add creatives from related fields to the roster, i.e. fashion stylist and retouchers, to increase our capabilities.
Photographers sometimes work in their own bubbles because their ego gets in the way, but the reality of it all is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You really don’t have to go it alone in this crazy world of shooting fashion; by joining forces you can be a much stronger force.
Kevin Michael Reed is a theatre maker from New York City living in Dublin and London. His production credits have included producer, director, playwright, dramaturg and designer. He is Artistic Director of Squire Lane Theatrical UK, a theatre production company specialising in developing new works for the stage. He holds a BFA in Photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY), a MA in Playwriting from City, University of London, and a MFA in Theatre Directing from The Lir, National Academy of Dramatic Art, Trinity College Dublin.