Why Collaborations Work

I know that many people in most work situations suffer from a lack of inspiration sometimes and from my years in design and buying, to running my own business I have seen it across all sectors and not just in the creative industries. How many times have you heard the phrase from somebody saying, ‘I’ve lost my Mojo at the moment’? I see this in everything from people who have not exercised for a while, to simply those that have not been out with friends even. It happens to everyone and I think the trick is to accept it happens and just do what works for you to get past it, in your own time. This could be simply getting outdoors, or meeting in a new place, or it could be setting a new goal, or looking to a new area for inspiration.

One thing I see that often ignites that spark again, is to collaborate with the right person at that point in time. A person that inspires you and a project that appeals to your values and soul again. Being in the creative industry, I thought I would share the collaborations that I have seen work and explore from the various points of view of other people as to just why collaborations work. From the photography company working with businesses for creative imagery, to the food stylists working with event co-ordinators and once you spot them for yourself, you will see how the work they are producing becomes that bit more magical.

So rather than just take my word for it, about why collaborations work, along with my thoughts, you will see that I have also asked several of these people to explain why they think collaborations work.

The Styled Photoshoot
Getting a group of industry experts together to create a styled photoshoot for a new launch, or simply a creative project always leads to a spark of enthusiasm. It is like a play day for adults and we all get giddy about seeing the resulting images. I think it is the chance to put products and styles together that are not bound by any restriction, or brief that allows more fun and leads to more creativity. More ideas are thrown around and tried as everybody sees something different and you are forced to look at a new approach. I suppose it dates back to the great artists in history having a ‘Muse’. Somebody that inspires them to push their idea further and become more immersed in it.

I have been so fortunate to be approached by amazingly talented teams to capture the images for their vision and I can’t thank them enough for trusting me with this. You can view them on the blog and in my purchasing gallery. Why do these collaborations work for me? I would say it is because everybody is more than passionate about what they are putting in to the shoot. Everybody plans for it, everybody has ideas and there is never anybody who doesn’t want to be there, or is just ticking a box.
Alison from Wonderland Weddings
“working as a collaboration was good on so many levels. Not just the way it increased the creativity as you are working with others that are like minded and inspire you with their input, but also the friendships that have come from the project. It also showed me the hard work that goes into other areas of the industry giving me a new respect for what they do.”

Laura from Victory Rolls Bridal Hair & Makeup Parlour
“Collaborations work really well because instead of being confined to just your own imagination you have several different creatives ideas and input. It turns a shoot from ordinary to extraordinary.”

Eloise from EK Bridal
“Every idea has a story, or a theme and you know how you would like something to look but it can be hard to express it on your own. If I make a dress, or a piece for a theme without it being on a person, a makeup artist to create the right mood and a photographer to really work with the idea to produce photos that encapsulated the entire look and pulls it all together the item would just be another dress on a hanger without a story of its own. Collaborating with creative people really works for me to bring ideas to life.”
I am thrilled to share with you some fabulous advice from Catherine Connor of Aspire Photography Training and having taken part in one of their styled photoshoots, I can’t recommend them enough. These ladies are the dream team at creating magical wonderlands and days for you to capture.

Catherine Connor
The purpose of a collaboration shoot

Aspire has become famous for creative styled shoots and mastering the art of the collaboration shoot. This has taken time – we have had to nurture the process as the preparation and planning period is critical to the success of the overall shoot.  Refining the  structure with regard to how we plan the shoots was essential as styled shoots are a big part of what we do alongside many other important aspects of the business.

My first recommendation is about being well organised with your props – if you’re serious about styling and introducing this as an aspect of your business’s general activities it needs to be super organised. Our style store holds our treasure chest of props, clothes, calligraphy and I can’t admit to how much glass wear!  It’s  been a good investment, a real time saver and often the place I sit when I am contemplating the next and forthcoming shoots. This is certainly where you will find me most Saturdays at some stage – My small corner of heaven!

The dictionary definition – the action of working with someone to produce or create something

The above insight into the meaning is perhaps where we should  begin, give great consideration to why you’re even considering a styled shoot. Creating the concepts takes a great deal of time and everything you do with the business’s time naturally has a value.

1. Plan all your shoots months in advance, give each shoot a business purpose. Consider what you would like the portfolio of images to achieve for the marketing objectives of the business ( as dull as this might sound it’s important~ this is your business mentor sharing !)

2. Create your dream team. Who should be involved? from like -minded make -up artists, florist, calligrapher and stylist through to bridal or fashion retailers. The secret to the your dream team is understanding brand alliance and trust. All collaborations require a mutual understanding. You all must understand what each business needs to achieve through the shoot.

3. Give inspired thought to what you would like the images to achieve, from Facebook banners, social media material, blog content through to art for your walls. The format of what and how you shoot will certainly play a role with regard to how successful the shoot is, it’s as important to think about what you want to achieve after the shoot as much as considering the shoot itself.

4. Be alert to any time stealers, you have a great deal to do in the business, be realistic to how much you can prepare, implement, shoot and post produce ~ don’t place yourself in a difficult position.

5. It’s all about the exposure, remember to allocate blogging time, ensure all those involved do also. There is no ‘I’ in team!! If possible encourage everybody within your collaborative team to blog, this will ensure you all gain maximum social media coverage. Consider the possibilities of pitching and publishing on a  professional blogger’s platform this is such a thrill for all in business. A blog we admire is the English Wedding Blog by Claire Gould. It’s all about selecting the right blog profile for your style of photography and business objectives. You must follow the blogger’s guidelines if you want to get published.

7. Utilise all social platforms, blog stomp your images in preparation for coverage. The reward has to be witnessed, to appreciate what the images unfold for the business. Utilise all your images remembering to credit all those involved. Make sure all parties involved have a credit list, making sure nobody gets forgotten especially you. Create a series of hash tags that will assist all the businesses involved

8. Utilise the seasons, it’s soon going to be all about pumpkins and Christmas trees! The shoots we are in the throes of preparing are our autumnal wedding shoots and the white, winter wedding styled shoot. The seasons are such a gift to all professional bloggers if getting featured is your mission then think about how you can utilise the seasons to enhance all you achieve with each scene.

9. Create scene sheets, this has also been a great time saver in my preparation phases. Packing up different plastic boxes with the title and time of each scene taped to the outer was my summer  inspiration ( organisation will be your weapon for success) We have created scene sheets which include the title of each scene, the overall look and theme alongside what props will be needed. This saves a great deal of time and confusion during the shoot for all involved. As Aspire Photography Training’s stylist and White Feather & Co stylist my time has become more and more precious. During the shoot my role is to be inspiring, creative and innovative and the more I implement prior, ensures that during the shoot all my mind has to be on is the expectations of each scene.

10. The key is to keep it simple. The temptation to ‘over style’ is always the challenge as our natural enthusiasm for effort can sometimes get confused with the need to achieve. Be strict with your creative spirit.

If styled shoots fill you with fear, join us this Autumn – take a peek at what we implement, raid us of ideas as we will warmly welcome you and encourage you to get started!
The business involved – The Frostery Cake designer Suzanne Thorpe

Photography by Jenny Heyworth Photography

The Artist Collaboration
Artists have always inspired each other throughout history and it stills takes place today. I am lucky enough to have had close contact with a group of artist in Leicester, who work together under the name of Ornamentum. Each of these people are an artist working in their own specialist field, such as textiles, ceramics, jewellery etc. and have their own businesses. With Ornamentum, these creatives explore project work together, so that a person who works with colour may work with a person who doesn’t. I absolutely adore it when I get a call to photograph these projects.

Samantha Robinson
“I think it helps to be around like minded people, but having the deadline for showing/experimenting ideas gives you the push needed. I love helping others to see what they sometimes forget in their own work, the mood is lifted and creativity/production can be doubled by this enthusiasm. It is an exciting process which has huge benefits all round. I can’t recommend it enough!”

Another collaboration from Bethany Walker and Ruth Singer is known as Interlace and this is the imagery you can see here. The latest pieces literally filled my whole studio floor and had me up a ladder photographing it from above. Now that inspires creativity.

Bethany Walker
“This whole collaborative process has been a great learning experience for us both. Spending time with another maker, talking about your work, your techniques and, above all, your ideas is PRICELESS! I have personally found it hugely beneficial; bouncing ideas off another maker has made me look at my own practice in a different light, approach tasks differently and opened up new avenues to explore.”

The Graphic Artist meets the Web Designer
My very own website was built this way, as I have no talent in either of these areas and wanted the best of both worlds to create a brand that would also translate into a website. I was lucky in that my brand creative, Melissa Love, also designs websites and so understands how they work, so when I needed a brand designing, but for it to be handed over to my local website designer and host, Hypergalaxy so I would always have somebody at hand from an IT point of view, it worked seamlessly.

I know of another perfect team that have this relationship and to be honest I can’t recommend this enough to get something that is better than just being practical.

Clare McCabe, Director, Purple Star Design Ltd
“The initial reason that Karl Craig-West and I collaborated was because our individual skills complimented each other perfectly to create websites, I design and he builds. As we started to work together the collaboration developed into a business support and marketing pool of inspiration. Over time of working together, less obvious skills we each have came to the front to create a broader offering to our clients. He sells, I account manage, he trains, we both market. We inspire one another, pool resources, conserve time, bounce ideas around together and there’s someone who completely understands the ups and downs of running your own business. And now a friend.”

Karl Craig-West, Director, Buzz Website Design
“Clare McCabe and I collaborate because she brings skills and experience to my work that I struggle with.  She’s able to visualise what clients are looking for and then create designs that I would likely never have come up with.  She makes our client-experience much more complete and makes us into a much better business together.  In my view, everyone should have a Clare.”

The Event Collaboration
Creating an event, be it a wedding, or any showcase, is the ultimate creative collaboration and when you watch the video below, you’ll see I’ve saved some dreamy inspiration for you to finish this blog with. These teams are so creative when they work together and hats off to all the suppliers involved in them.

Thomas Bower of Thomas the Caterer
“Collaborations have always worked well for me in the past. In our industry (wedding) it happens frequently to create a finished product such as a wedding scene, or a prop styling, or indeed an actual event, with many different creatives working towards one specific goal. I would however say to choose your fellow collaborator wisely. Choose someone with the same work ethics and someone you like to hang around with. One more tip is collaborate with someone who you believe is way more established than yourself. Remember the magic happens outside your comfort zone and you should always put yourself in the position to chase the others so you up your game.”

Jodie & Craig Bidder of Sami Tipi
Richard & Lynn Bailey of Bawdon Lodge Farm
The inspiring and bespoke events that Jodie & Craig and Richard & Lynne put together and how they feel collaborations work is summed up in this beautiful film from Perfect Moment Films. Enjoy x


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