Trust. Trust is one of the biggest things that any model or Photo Editor will say they have when needing to work with a new photographer. It’s part of why the industry is so incestuous–because the people who aren’t serious about their work get weeded out based on personal recommendations. But photographers also need to be able to have that trust and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I recycle the same models for this site.
Do I like working with new people? Absolutely! But I generally won’t do it unless I’ve gotten a personal recommendation from someone else, and even then I don’t always continue to work with certain people. But I get the same recommendation from model to model and that’s how the ability to collaborate on personal work can spread.
Just so I can clarify, because someone who isn’t a typical fan of the site is bound to read what I clearly wrote here and prove they failed simple high school reading comprehension skills: I’m talking about personal work here. Professional work is gig to gig and nothing else.
The opening photo is of Bec Fordyce, who I met years ago here in NYC. We fell out of touch and then back in touch. Today, I consider her a good friend and probably one of the people who I trust the most in this industry. And the idea from this post came from a few other professional photographers that felt the same way about working with the same people over and over again. It isn’t a clique so to speak, but more of a circle of people that we trust.
So what makes you just trust people? Working with them. Conversations. Willingness to be experimental with creative ideas. Being creative. Being simple and accommodating. Honestly, just being a fricken’ human being and not treating someone else like complete crap. You’d be amazed how hard that is to do these days. I couldn’t care any less about working with the thinnest men or women as long as they’ve got personality that can come through in a photo and I can work with them to bring that out. It also takes a lot of self-awareness, communication, and honesty.
Something that folks who continue to work with me tell me is that I’m real about things. They value that because it helps us all create a better image in the end.
In addition to this, a willingness to work with one another is also pretty important. We (not just Bec and I, but myself and other models) can all find ways to make our schedules mesh. And if we can’t at that one moment in time, then we find another way to make it work later on. We’re consistent, we keep up with each others’ lives, and we’re like colleagues in a way at a workplace without the toxicity of wanting to cut each others’ throats in order to get higher up in the company. Instead, it’s a mutual understanding that we have a symbiotic nature with one another and that all works. There’s no jealousy; there’s only trust, support, and genuine appreciation for the other people.
Does it look bad for your work? Not really. The reason why is because you eventually gain trust of many models who then recommend you to others. The, those others recommend you to more others. And so on and so on. People see the work you do on Facebook and Instagram and then want to collaborate. Very personally, I’ve always been a lot more about the personal team vs personal acolyte mentality. By that I mean I’d rather have a core bunch of people who genuinely like working with me and don’t want to do it just for the work. When you actually like doing your job, that energy becomes infectious to the people you collaborate with.
And spreading that message of trust with one another is what makes creative people love working with one another.