5 steps to collaborate successfully
Okay, okay. I know what you're thinking. Ashley, styled shoots are the backbone of amer-uh, the entrepreneurial. Don't tell me they're a bad idea. But, hear me out.
I've been in this industry for some time now, ever growing, ever changing, and you guessed it -- ever collaborating. Most of these collaborations have been amazing, but some, well...they've been learning experiences. Thus, I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer out there so people don't make the same mistakes I made about twenty times too many. They say you learn each time you've been "burned" or wronged, whatever you want to call it. But for me? Oh no. My stubborn thick head kept humming the word yes over and over again.
It honestly took me ages to figure out why collaborations weren't going my way. And once I adapted the below, it's saved me a ton of headaches since. Let me spare you the frustration and disappointment of a collaboration gone wrong by sharing my tragedies and triumphs in these 5 easy steps that will leave you less likely to throw in your creative towel and more likely to feeling confident when saying yes to collaborations aka styled shoots.
1. Tell them what you need.
The first time I signed up a styled shoot, I had ASSumed that all the experts around me knew what I needed. Whether you're a photographer, florist, or like myself, a makeup/hair artist. You need to be clear with your collaborators on what you all need to feel like everyone walked away serving their clients/business.
2. If it isn't your style, don't say yes.
You'd think this would be a given. It isn't. You'll find yourself looking for anyone who will snap some images or dust on some makeup that's willing so you'll have something, anything, to post. But if it's not going to serve your portfolio or your social media feeds, than don't say yes.
3. Share your ideas.
You're being asked to collaborate because someone liked what you can do and trusts your vibe. They've given you an idea, but don't be afraid to tweak, share your ideas for changes, or talk about what can be realistically accomplished, they're coming to you because you're an expert in your craft. They're trusting you as a pro, so be it and them 'em what you can offer.
4. Share ALL the vendors.
If the person who has coordinated the shoot didn't collect the social handles for the vendors collaborating. Take it upon yourself to do it. I've been so disappointed watching a large project I collaborated on get posted with credits going out to only a few of the larger vendors and forgetting us little guys. I've been guilty of the same. Don't be afraid to kindly reach out and let them know they forgot to tag you. You collaborated with these people because you felt you could cross your clientele!
5. If you're unhappy, say it.
You can be respectful and share your opinions. If a project you collaborated on, and followed the above 4 steps, turns out to be crap. Tell them. Am I saying send them an email saying, "Hey, this is garbage, here's an invoice". Absolutely not, conduct yourself professionally. There's no need for hurtful words or pitchforks. But if you worked hard and when you get the gallery back, you see it was edited all very dark so your work doesn't show through, or your floral arrangement was pictured from so far away no one can tell if those are roses or, uh, lillies, or um...who really knows. Or the makeup/hair artist used blue eye shadow and the vibe you were hoping for was natural so you had to spend 80 forevers editing out frosted blue shadow. Don't trash the idea, but let someone know when they've fallen short of their expectations. Most people would rather hear it from you, than hear it through the grapevine about them knowing it was you who said it.
That's it. It took me years to understand that standing up, saying no, and being firm in what is expected wasn't "rude" (thanks southern hospitality mind set) but actually a form of good professional communication. You should never walk away from a Styled Shoot with any vendors feeling like they've missed out or wasted their time. I've done it before, but you can certainly prevent it.