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Collaboration

dudler

Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Collaboration

11 Jan 2021 4:42AM   Views : 186 Unique : 123

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Some of my happiest times in my work life were when I was working with other people: and, perhaps oddly, many of the best of those have been when I’ve worked with someone whose style, interests and knowledge are different from my own. Particularly happy memories of the time I spent three hours discussing light-touch controls with an accountant who didn’t think we’d achieve anything – we finished up with the outline of a mechanism that would work efficiently, and the basis for a warm long-term working relationship.

Taking pictures of models is a collaborative venture. I know that some people see it as being like buying a new lens, or choosing a holiday, that one person controls everything, but anyone who works that was misses out on all the best pictures. When you build on each other’s ideas, make use of each other’s skills, and work or talk through possible ways to go you achieve more. Models are not unreflective, and they have brains and instincts as well as looks.

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There are many different ways that one can collaborate: for instance, someone new to studio work may find that shooting with another tog who understands lights will allow them both to do highly creative things. A lighting expert may suggest new and different ideas, as well as being able to produce specified effects quickly.

Two recent collaborations at a distance come to my mind in particular. I blogged a couple of days ago about the way that Andy Carter made one of my pictures into a three-dimensional object (which you really need to see, and be able to move around) – he’s got a precise technical mind that works out precise solutions, and he has a degree of patience that I lack in most contexts!

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The thing about a collaboration is that it allows each person involved to do what they do best: and it also means that weaknesses count for far less, as the chances are that the other person (or persons) involved will have compensating ability. And some collaborations are born simply of one person’s greater knowledge. Which brings us to Roy.

Roy (who you may know better as kaybee) is a large and gentle man: someone who thinks carefully. If you look at his portfolio, you’ll find carefully shot and neatly edited images. Sometimes, you’ll see something that anyone could have done, but nobody else did. A fisheye self-portrait from inside a washing machine comes to mind. Go and have a look…

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When I first started posting pictures on this site, I was a pretty experienced darkroom worker, but very much a novice with digital. But I remember that Roy often commented on my images, back in the days when I could post a really good picture and get five votes on it. And the thing that started what is now a long collaboration was that he commented that I’d been rather heavy-handed with some burning-in: at that stage, I hadn’t realised that dodge and burn could work below 100% opacity…

Roy’s consistently ‘played’ with the images I’ve posted, and along with leo_nid he’s perhaps posted more good pictures that I’ve taken than I have. Often – as yesterday – he’s added finesse and the finishing touches. Completing the job is not something I’ve ever excelled at.

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Late in 2019, I met Roy for the first time in reality, and I got a new insight into someone I already regarded as a friend. We took some pictures, and talked a lot. And more recently, he’s done some edits of my pictures from RAW files, bringing further refinement to the output. Here are some results (plus a picture of the man himself).

If this seems like a strange way to go about anything, maybe you should give it a try – enable modifications for a change, and see what your friends here offer you. Sometimes, you won’t like the results – but, I think, you will be delighted more often, you will learn new things, and you’ll find a new delight in sharing resources and skills. And, after lockdown, you may make contacts you’d not thought of before, to everyone’s benefit and enjoyment.

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Comments


dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1778 England
11 Jan 2021 4:43AM
All pictures by me: all edits, except for the last image, by kaybee.

Thank you, Roy.
kaybee Plus
16 7.5k 26 Scotland
11 Jan 2021 9:12AM
You are too kind by far.

One of the best tips I was ever given for use when teaching portraiture to others was -- always introduce yourself and ask the model's name (you may not have booked them) and if the photographer is not talking to the model, have then turn round and then wait until the photographer asked them to turn and tell them what they wanted and also to ask if there was anything the model wanted This would ensure that there was a connection and an exchange of ideas.
Not all models are professional and may be nervous ......... nerves show in a picture.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1778 England
11 Jan 2021 11:23AM
I'm not at all sure about that first sentence! Shall we just agree that it's all good fun?

And that's excellent advice for working with models: too many people treat them as an accessory.
chase Plus
15 2.0k 517 England
11 Jan 2021 11:41AM
Collaboration = Learning, different ways of looking at things and different ways of getting there.
mistere Plus
7 6 4 England
11 Jan 2021 2:21PM
Collaboration is essential, working with anybody, whatever you're doing. Otherwise you're not working with them.
We can all learn something new, whatever we're doing and whoever we're talking to, people are fascinating and
everybody knows something that we don't.
The most important thing, especially when working with models, is communication. Models are people, people have feelings
and we all react and engage with other people depending on how those people treat us. Being considerate of the other persons
comfort and well being and treating them with respect will always pay dividends Whether you're taking their photograph, teaching them
how to hang wallpaper or anything else you can think of. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, it's not that difficult.
I still don't agree with enabling mods for every image. As I said previously, the editing software available today could easily be used to
reveal more of an image than the model would want and not everyone who downloads images actually uploads a modification. At least
not onto EPZ. I'm happy to let anyone that I know and trust have a copy of any of my images, if they want to work with them. To be honest, most
of them could be improved by anybody with modicum of editing skill. BUT, safeguarding the models dignity and respecting the trust that they have
placed in you as a photographer is still important, even years after the shoot. Trust is important, unfortunately not everyone is as trustworthy
as we would like them to be.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1778 England
11 Jan 2021 2:57PM
So much good sense there, Dave - especially about the reason not to allow mods on every image.

Safeguarding a model is a very important part of that collaboration, and I do occasionally not enable mods for that reason. And I have to say that I sometimes do a bit of cloning that will frustrate the sort of scenario you mention.

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