Working Collaboratively

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by TheFlyingCamera, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Has anyone here ever done a collaborative work with another artist, be it photographer, painter, sculptor, or other kind of artist? If so, how did you handle the creative authorship of the work? At what point did you determine whose contribution would be subordinate, if you did make that determination at all? If you were the subordinate contributor, was that a difficult challenge for your artistic ego, or was it a welcome situation for you?
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    As so often, a firm, unequivocal, 'it depends'.

    Quite a lot of the work that Frances Schultz and I do together is collaborative. We call the resulting pictures 'mostly yours', 'mostly mine' or 'pretty much 50/50'.

    Generally, with others, we work as 'exchange assistants': I assist Marie on her pics, she assists me on mine. This happens even if we're shooting the same things. The assistant contributes some of the shot but is always the junior partner.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Do theater and poetry readings count? My worst experience was when I was doing poetry readings, which I have stopped doing since. I usually read my own stuff on the microphone, but at some point I got involved into a two-men show reading the work of a famous local poet.

    There were pretty solid differences between us two. The other guy was a poète maudit type of dude who did readings on a 3AM radio show that nobody listens, but he had a pretty strong idea of what he was doing, and has "his way" of doing thing, which to me meant a formulaic tone and empty articulation. I had none of that "concrete experience" but I had opinions to sell, including that he was a pretty crappy reader. So in the end I was the tenderfoot nag that had all the answers and was bossing around Mr Talent himself. Morality: if you don't like the work of someone else, don't even think of collaborating.

    On the other hand, I was involved in high school as an actor and a director for plays, and although it was a rollercoaster of emotions (median age: 15), we all had a similar drive to get things done, so in the end we were proud of our results. Morality: stick with people who share your goals and don't waste time with loafers.

    I haven't done any photographic collaboration so far, nor do I intend to because I consider I have much to learn before I can be comfortable working with anyone else but me. I would be comfortable having people doing related tasks (makeup, models, etc), but I don't want to have another shutterbug around me.
     
  4. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Roger-

    understood about assistants/prima artistas, but I'm more thinking about a meeting of peers/equals. Have you ever been mulling over an idea over a pint or two with another artist who you would think of as a peer, and you both said, "wow, that's a terrific idea. I'd like to do that!"? And then you both set out and worked on it together?

    Does this never happen for photographers? are we such independent spirits/rampaging egomaniacs that we don't work with other artists? Does this happen only in an inter-disciplinary mode, (ie painter-and-photographer), or can it happen within the same media?
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Scott, Bernd and Hilla Becher strike me as the paradigmatic team of photographers. They often work in different locations at the same time, but they share the same vision and have shared authorship on their pictures. They even go so far as forgetting sometimes who took what, and I think they also avoid taking such notes when they can in order to avoid creating a balance of power or fame between the two.
     
  6. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I have done one shoot with another photographer where we both pretty much contributed equally and we simply called it a collaboration between the two of us.

    I do like the idea of working with other photographers but it does depend. The person I worked with assists me on some shoots and I assist her on some of her shoots. For this work the photographer takes the credit but I do like to give some credit to the assistant. I have found that a good assistant can really help improve the work and keep the shoot going smoothly. All of this is in the context of shooting models and or portrait work BTW.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    No, and I can't think of any other photographers whom I know who have done it either -- from decades of acquaintanceship. Except, as I say, with Frances, and then it's either a single shot we've thought of together, or different pictures for the same end e.g. the Tibetan cause.

    That's not to say it never happens, but if it does, looking back over 40 years, it's bloody rare. A more likely scenario (which I have seen) is 'Hey, that's a good idea' -- then setting out more or less competitively...

    I don't think it's that common in any artistic endeavour, even mixed media (and I've been involved in my share of poetry readings, and Senggye's incredible production of Seven Last Words in Bristol, specially-made paintings, theatre lighting, music, poetry). Normally there's one person who is at the very least a ringleader, and sometimes arguably The Artist, with caps, as Senggye was for that production.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The closest I've come to a collaboration has been an interdisciplinary one - I was going to do a project with a (former) friend who is a painter. I would photograph him, and then he would interpret the photos in paint, and I would display my original photos beside his canvases. We were also discussing the possibility of printing some of my images on his canvasses and then he would work over the photographic images. It all came to naught because he was being his usual flighty self and could never finish anything he started.
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Frances and I do that quite often. Funny how we both tend to claim the good ones... Sometimes we have to check the film-stock or negative to see who it was -- the only time we habitually use the same stock is Ilford HP5 Plus roll-film, and then we shoot different formats.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    FC,
    I've been both the primary, and secondary contributor on music and art collabs.
    For us it was generally accepted who the "leader" was, although that title never really had much meaning.
    It's like someone always has to be the inpiration, and the rest toss in whatever they think works.
    Everything was going along fine creatively, but then distribution of the profits was handled...that's when the egos came into play.
    So I guess if you're doing it for fun, "check your egos at the door," and enjoy!
    For profit though, get something in writting, up front!
    Just my experience.
    DT
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    I used to do this with some of my writing. We would put our name alphabetically, and call it a collaboration. Some times I was first other times they were. If it was the same person, we would alternate. This was for fun.

    If money got involved I probably would not collaborate or just split 50/50. I never did the collaborations for money, just to see what we would come up with. Money screws up a partnership.
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Can I put my lawyer hat on here for a minute?

    Money does not "screw up a partnership"*; but if you are collaborating with a partner(s) in any business endeavor you certainly should draw up a Partnership Agreement ("PA").

    A well-written PA will clearly spell out the relationship and define the roles, duties and obligations of the parties. The drafting of a PA will itself "reveal" to everyone what their various expectations are and oftentimes identify "issues" that might not otherwise surface until it's too late.

    Whether you collaborate for fun or profit (although I fail to see what is gained in the former instance); a written PA entered into ahead of time, whether formal or informal, will avoid a hell of a lot of grief later on.

    * In fact, other than sole-proprietorship, "partnership" is the oldest form of business enterprise there is.
     
  13. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Money can mess up collaborations.

    I once pooled resources with another photographer to produce commissioned work for a local gallery exhibition. Other artists were comissioned as well. Every artist was going to be paid the same money.

    The photographs were produced, co-signed, and exhibited to the usual faint praise. Pay day was a shock. The collaborators were counted as one artist even though we produced a full share of images each. One creative spirit, one theme, one style, that means one artist doesn't it? Right?

    No more collaborations for me ever since.
     
  14. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Collaborations in the fashion/glamour photography world is known as TFP/TFCD. Time for print/CD. It's the most common way hobbyist like myself get any images. Depending on the level of seriousness, it can me a straight exchange of a model's time for a couple prints to something more elaborate like an make up atist, clothes stylist, hair stylist, propr/backround designer, and assistants getting images/credits/tear sheets for an unlimited release to the photographer.

    Now, have I been screwed? Nope. I mean everything is done for free and I give the collaborators usage to the images, plus I get unlimited releases - all in writing. Generally too, to ensure everyone gets what they want, I do images for me, the MUA and the model - all of which are different 'looks'. I hate to say it, but digital is best for collaborations in this industry. It's cheap and quick to get the results.

    I do collaborations all the time. It's allowed me to expand my network and models/MUAs frequently refer other models to me. It's good for business and getting more images with new faces and new talent.

    At the APUG conference last year, Margaret Malandruccolo said she too did many collaborations (TFP/YFCD) to get images to record companies. I know actors and theater companies that often do collaborations to get images too.

    It's simple trade. More people should do it.

    Regards, Art.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2007