I love a good photography collaboration. Successful projects can have so many mutually beneficial outcomes, from increasing exposure to each other’s demographic, to potentially laying the foundations of a new business partnership, or simply providing the opportunity to get creative with other incredible humans that I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to. They can also be amazing for pushing me out of my comfort zone and flexing my creative muscles, which I’m sure you’ll agree we could all use a little of from time to time!
Whilst the majority of my time must be spent on paid work (exposure doesn’t pay the mortgage unfortunately!) I am always open to receiving photography collaboration requests in case I can squeeze one in between other projects. There are some key things I look for in a collaboration request, which I thought it might be helpful to include here….
Firstly, avoid the cold call approach. Take the time to interact with me for a few weeks/months on social media – whichever platform you prefer. Give me a follow if you don’t already, like posts, leave comments, get involved. I do my best to read and reply to as many of the comments as I can and it gives me a chance to get to know you a little better.
Do your research. On top of what I share on social media, spend some time browsing my website. Social media often prohibits me from sharing certain content, so have a look through my portfolio to see what’s in there that you might not have already seen. Also, take the time to read my ‘About Me’ page – its a little goldmine of Tigz-based information and you may find something in there that resonates with your own raison d’être. You might also want to sign up to my newsletter for insider information – I put a lot of effort into it every month, including details of my availability and travel plans (which might be useful if you’re located on the other side of the world and want to co-ordinate schedules, for example!)
Approach me via email. I’ve de-activated the messaging feature on my Facebook page, my Twitter inbox has been broken for well over a year and I get so many DMs on Instagram that you’ll be lost in the depths of the app by lunchtime. It’s a similar story in my WhatsApp feed. Emails are definitely my preferred method of business communication, so send me a direct email or pop me a message via my contact page.
Start your email with my name. I’m going to be 100% honest here and admit that if I don’t know who you are and you start the email with a very generic ‘hello there’ or ‘hey’, your email is going straight into the trash. I get so many photography collaboration requests that one of the easiest ways to filter them out is to only read the personalised ones. Something like ‘Hi Tigz’ will at least get me to read it. Something like ‘Dear Tigz, Mistress of Light and Shade’ that evokes a little more personality makes me far more likely to reply (true story, that was an actual email).
Introduce yourself briefly with links to your own online presence. Social media has no doubt changed how we connect with others, and it can prove tricky to navigate being over friendly when you’ve followed someone and their work online for a while. Tell me about your work, what inspires you; it doesn’t have to read like your CV but give me the juicy highlights. Bonus points if you tell me something the internet doesn’t know about you yet.
Make your message personal and show a genuine interest. Why are you approaching ME for this collaboration? There are hundreds and thousands of other photographers out there in the world, why are you in MY inbox right now?
Highlight what you’re bringing to the collaboration and your part in it. Offer me something that isn’t already in my portfolio. Do you have access to a stunning location? Have you managed to secure styling by an incredible designer? Have you just launched an epic burlesque prop that the world hasn’t seen before? Are you so internet famous this shoot almost definitely going to go viral? Sell your idea to me – make it too tempting for me to say no to!
If you can, come to me with at least the foundations of a shoot concept. Is there a theme? Do you have a location in mind? Is there a specific date for this project? Will there be other creatives (models / performers / designers / stylists) involved? Have you got a mood board? You don’t have to go into great detail about your collaboration idea, or even be 100% set on the final concept – that can always come at a later date – all I ask is that you at least get the concept ball rolling. Do not expect me to do all of the creative lifting.
Be concise and keep your email relevant. And always give it a quick scan before you send it. Just in case your device has autocorrected my name to (best case) Tiger or (worst case, this actually happened once!) ‘Ugh?’
Finally, be prepared to gracefully accept a no. Even if you’ve written the most perfect collaboration request email following all of the steps above, sometimes, for infinite numbers of reasons (time, money and resources being three obvious ones), it just isn’t possible for me to take on a collaboration right now. That said, it might not be a no forever. There have been times over my career that I’ve said no to a photography collaboration request and then followed it back up several months/years later when the timing has been better for me… you just never know what might happen in the future!
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