I often enjoy working on collaborations with other creatives; models and actors. Hair and makeup artists. Designers and of course other photographers. I find it rather enjoyable, as well as lots of fun. We’re all different and have different ideas. Working with other creatives allows you to expand on ideas in ways you may never have imagined.

Where to start

More often than not, there are photographers or creatives who you admire. Reaching out to them can be daunting to some, but getting out of your comfort zone is totally worth it. Come up with a theme, a single idea spark. Quietly reach out to other creatives and say “Hey, I was thinking of creating XYZ, what do you think?” It does not need to be broadcast to the world, just a few. Sometimes you have a few fellow photographers that you regularly shoot with, that’s also a great place to start. I had a friend who had a bathtub in her studio, I said “I’d love to get a mermaid in that” and she said “count me in” and Sirens was born!

Sirens with Emily Reinhard
Sirens with Emily Reinhard

How to pick a team

This can be tricky, but not always. For Sirens, one of my regular models told me she had just bought a mermaid costume. Kismet! I told her we were planning on a Siren’s shoot and she was super excited to be a part of it. Likewise, I was discussing body paint with a regular makeup artist and she really wanted in. She excels in dark and moody and loves a challenge so she was perfect for this shoot.

Makeup and body paint by Em Mrietta
Makeup and body paint by Em Mrietta

Picking a team can be a random occurrence, with whoever is available on the day, fits the costume, etc. Or you can be very particular in who you choose. Pick someone who suits the theme, someone who can work within the limits of the shoot. A beginner makeup artist might be totally overwhelmed with full-body paint. Sometimes designers are happy to lend you items for a certain theme if they have something new they wish to market. Or perhaps it could inspire them to create something entirely new. Here are a few behind the scene images.

My recent collaborations

So far this year I have managed to shoot four collaborations so far, and most have been fairly elaborate too. Sirens was by far the most labor-intensive as far as traveling to Country Victoria to shoot at Studio Sue (Sue Masterson) for the bathtub and chandelier. Setting up the ‘siren’s lair’ took several hours. The makeup took several hours. The shoot went for hours. Want to see the whole gallery? Check it out here

The Puppet Master

Was a collaboration with HMUA Teighan Felton, Model Andrea Gardiner, the help of my Hubby (aka the Puppet Master) and myself. I pulled together the costume and we shot in the studio with lots of ‘tweaking’ as we went. Originally Teighan and I wanted old school Black and White look, hence the strong makeup and color choices, but decided it looked fabulous in color too. Check out the whole gallery here.

Andrea as the Puppet
Andrea as the Puppet

Celestial Beings

This was one that was nearly 2-years in the planning thanks to the pandemic. It was loads of work, making the costumes and props, I have a designer, Verdessa Fairy, who made the headpieces and inspired two whole collections for her Etsy shop! Our Model Andrea Gardiner was chosen for the regal look and costumes were made to fit her. Makeup Artist Em Mrietta was again chosen for her unique talents on this project. We did hair and makeup and shot the sunlight costume first and then, took everything down and totally redid makeup and costume for the Moonlight one. It was a VERY long day. Check out the full gallery here.

The Green Absinthe Fairy

You may have seen this one before? I used a new technique with layering in Capture One to shoot this series. Again I made some of the costumes, the wings and such I already had. Makeup artist Teighan Felton, created our unique Green Fairy look and help with staging and getting model Emily Reinhard into just the right pose. This shoot came together quickly and was shot quickly, the fun was in getting the software just how we wanted the shots. Full Gallery.

Our Green Absinth Fairy Emily Reinhard
Our Green Absinthe Fairy Emily Reinhard

Why shoot with others?

While it’s true that there are some people who like to keep everything close to their chest and keep everything secret, some of us like to share. We like to mentor or even be mentored by others. We like to share the fun, but it can also help share the cost and physical exertion involved in creating scenes, costumes and props. I will run TFP (Time for photos) sessions, but I also run closed studio sessions mentoring other photographers. Sometimes we just ‘play’ in the studio. All of it is fun.

So next time you get an idea, why not try a collaboration? It’s tremendous fun and it can often help share the cost or workload. As long as everyone gets something out of it, I think it is a fair system.