For the last couple of years, “content creation” has become a buzzword amongst our generation, especially creatives who do it full time. Everyone who has access to a camera does it. We shoot, edit, post, then on to the next photoshoot we go. It’s a never ending cycle. But, what is this constant content creation really doing to our appreciation of collaborative photography? To help me synthesize my point of view, I’ll tell you a bit about the adventure that lead to the photos you are seeing today, and how it helped me rediscover the love for collaborative passion projects.
This shoot felt different
It all happened last week, when my good friends – and incredibly talented dancers – Mathieu Forget & Candy Tong came along to Queens for a visit. Mathieu had texted me a couple of days earlier with a simple concept idea: Shoot Candy and him wearing their red matching suits. Great! I thought. I’m in.
When the shooting day arrived, I picked up a 10 year old camera that was lying around the office (since my day to day camera was getting serviced) and off we went, in the hopes of capturing something we could all be proud of.
The minute we began shooting, I felt different. Then it hit me: I had spent the last two months shooting for work not realizing I hadn’t shot for fun in forever! It’s not that work photography isn’t fun, it just wasn’t challenging my creativity. This shoot was exactly what I needed… but I didn’t know I needed it until I was shooting! It was a breath of fresh air. We ended up spending just an hour shooting, but it felt like 20 minutes. We had so much fun experimenting with angles, as well as finding contrasts that made the red outfits “pop” and playing with dynamic shadow positioning with different variations. The whole purpose of this shoot was to CREATE. No strings attached. No deliverables. No parameters. Solely for the art of storytelling. Once I arrived home, these photos were edited and sent to Mathieu and Candy the same day. I was so thrilled to complete these. But why? What was the difference between creating for work and for fun? After all, it’s all the same process.. right?
Why do we do this again?
This shoot had me thinking about what it’s like to be an artist who makes a living with his art. It’s unfortunate that for dancers and photographers who work full time on their art, we tend to slowly ease into automatic drive & forget the purpose of why we began our journey in the first place. Wasn’t it to tell a story? Wasn’t it to challenge ourselves to advance our understanding of our art? Wasn’t it for … fun? If so, why do we sometimes stop doing it for fun? My guess is that as people who make a living out of our art, we have to focus on the business side of the art so we can maintain ourselves. This comes at the cost of sacrificing our adventurous creative juices because of bills, ultimately putting a “price tag” on our art and creating an ever increasing opportunity cost to our time and what we can create for free.
Sometimes we are afraid of doing our art for free because we think we won’t get paid in the future, or maybe because we think we have “enough portfolio” already, but collaborations with other artists is different and goes way beyond portfolio building or a “free shoot”. As artists, we need to focus more on creating, not for work or for views on our youtube (or a paycheck!), but to challenge ourselves out of our comfort zone, constantly. To exercise our creativity for creativity’s sake so we can keep our spirit young and our love for our art ever-growing – this is key to maintaining a constant appreciation for our art.
Let’s get the creative juices flowing.
With this said, if you are a full time dancer or creative who finds themselves not quite challenged or bored by what you are currently doing, here are some ideas that might help you get back to appreciating your art again:
- Go back to basics! Challenge yourself to come up with at least one idea a month to execute, no strings attached! You don’t need to put it up on social media. Do it for you.
- If you aren’t in search for cool creatives, guess what? You won’t find them. Check your network and find interesting people to work with! The funny thing is, sometimes we have all the people we need around us, we are just too focused on other things or too afraid to ask. Just do it, you’ve got one life to live.
- Have you been following a creative whom you admire and would love to work with on social media or other platforms? Hit them up! You might be surprised who responds. I’ve found that when you work with people whom you admire (like Mathieu and Candy on this shoot), the work is easier and the time spent working together is much more enjoyable.
- Dream big! You’re an artist, so the sky is the limit. This will get you to evolve as an artist and constantly grow out of your comfort zone. Come up with crazy ideas that you have seen in music videos or movies – the least you can do is underperform a crazy big idea, leaving you with something way bigger than what you would’ve done had you stayed in your comfort zone.
- At least try. The hardest thing to do is to start. I believe that if you go out and do something you don’t want to do for 10 minutes, you will slowly but surely start getting into the zone, little by little.
Make “back-to-basics” your motto.
We all go through our ups and downs as creatives. The best thing to do is to constantly build on the basics and always come back to the core purpose of why you got on this life long adventure in the first place. I wish you all the best in your journey and hope you keep developing and challenging yourself in your art going forward! Let’s all win. I’ll leave you with the photos above to enjoy. Thanks again to Mathieu & Candy for your incredible talents and for always being incredible collaborators.