Not in Isolation

Participatory, collective, cooperative and collaboration – all terms used to describe projects which involve the creative talents of at least two persons, quite often more. These terms are used quite interchangeably.

Photovoice, for example, is described as “community-based participatory research” which aims to document reality by combining photography with grassroots campaigning.

Emphasis is placed on inclusion, with participation from community members irrespective of age, social status, language, gender, race or disability.

Photographic projects raise awareness of social issues which affect the community, and which would otherwise be hidden or overlooked, by bringing new insights and perspectives.

Constructive criticism is a further example of collaboration in which the photographer and a viewer approaching images from different directions, nevertheless, the aims of both parties is to facilitate both better photography and more informed criticism.

Relating this to my photographic practice, collaboration for me is rare. Working on food photography projects is a solitary exercise. However, collaboration is highly relevant to food photography, especially for high-end photoshoots where cooks and food stylists might be involved.

Opportunities for collaborative work may not be commonplace in relation to smaller food photography projects. A greater number of opportunities present themselves with regard to the actual operation of the business, marketing for example, where expertise could be drawn upon for the design and production of promotional videos, graphic design skills for development of promotional literature, and copywriting skills.

Away from my main photographic practice, producing a zine has been an interesting, informative and fun task. For me, what we achieved represents the effectiveness of both collaboration – in the form of project related input from colleagues, and participation – in the form of crowdsourced contributions.

A key factor, of course, in all cooperative artistic scenarios is maintaining individual creative identity whilst harnessing the team’s abilities to create a synergistic outcome.

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