digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Collaboration helps improve your creativity

This photograph is part of a book project with 72 other women. Continue reading to find out more!

This photograph is part of a book project with 72 other women. Continue reading to find out more!

Over the years in the art world I’ve worked with different people on projects together. I always find it a rewarding experience and we both end up getting something more out of it, so today we’re going to explore the idea of collaboration and how it can improve your own creativity.

The power of two is exponential

If one can do great things, imagine what happens when we put our heads together and team up? Many of the best things in history have been created by duos that collaborated, sometimes for years. Here’s a few off the top of my head, who would you add to the list:

  • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Batman and Robin
  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
  • Lennon and McCartney
  • the Wright Brothers
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Microsoft (Bill Gates and Paul Allen)
  • Apple (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak)
  • Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin)
  • Ben and Jerry’s

You get the idea. Teamwork often makes for great results. In my experience, that is true for photographers as well. So how can you apply this information?

Some ideas on collaborating

#1 Set words to your images

I’ve worked a few times with poets on various projects. One such project had the visual artists post our pieces, and the poets select a couple and write about them. I had the honour of having not one but two poets write about my images from Peru. Here is one of those poems.

Hands of Time

poetry-photography-peru-06-blog680 The toil of your life is carried in your hands in the earth stains upon and under your fingernails as much as in the thinning gold wedding ring around your wrinkled finger. Your hands in their tired silence upon your lap go beyond language barriers; and words are not needed to tell your story. - Sandra Mooney-Ellerbeck To read the other five poems written for my images from Peru start here:

More recently my second time working with poets we were paired up and each pair got to decide how they worked together. I was paired with poet Alice Dolphin. We discussed possible images as she formed ideas for a new poem. As it progressed she gave me some concepts and types of images that would work to form the imagery for her words. We came up with this as our final piece, and it was quite well recent at the art opening. (If you can’t read the words clearly on the image, click here to see the entire poem) I added the antique look, texture, grudge edge to the image to match the feel of her words once I had the entire poem. poetry photography colaberation

#2 Attend or host an event or workshop together

Another way to work with someone else it to host or attend an event together. Think outside the box, how can you put on something that will benefit both of you and your respective groups. A meet and greet? A photo walk? You don’t even have to host an event, just attend one! Plan to pair up with someone you meet at a workshop or event and work together.

*** Warning: this procedure has been known to cause friendships! Heavy danger, proceed at your own risk. ;-) ***

Currently I’m working with two other talented people to co-host workshops on very different topics. First is an event here in my city called Living the Dream. It is for creative people who want to make a living doing what they love and the featured speaker is Corwin Hiebert, author, business manager and really cool guy! The second is a one day workshop in Washington state wine country with wine expert Andy Perdue. Where else can you combine two passions – photography and wine - and get some great photographs at a winery you wouldn’t otherwise have access to get. I get to teach and do photography, while sipping wine and learning about it – how great is that!? (you can join us if you like, I encourage it – just click on the link above)

#3 Work on a project together

If you’re looking for projects to work on, look no further than my FREE eBook 10 Photography Challenges to Improve your Photography! There’s a few ideas in there to get you started but if you want more, here’s a couple more ideas and one I’m proud to be part of right now myself. The Photographer Portrait Project - by Matt Leitholt The Doll Collection Projectby Darcy Evans While both of those are seemingly solo projects, in a sense they are also collaborations. Matt has to work with the other photographers at each photo session he does. Darcy works with models, hair and make up people and any other photographers that give him a hand. In addition to those you could do something simpler like start a 365 (photo a day) project and do it with someone. Or maybe you could do something to help a charity like Help Portrait (you don’t need to be a pro photographer there’s lots of other ways to help out) or a local organization that needs photos. You may think your photos are good enough, but trust me if you volunteer and give them something they couldn’t otherwise afford, they will love it. Or you could create something to help them raise money, like the project I’m part of right now.

How We See It – the nature of our worlds

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 7.50.57 PM

Click on the image to preview the whole book

This book features 73 female photographers, writes and artists who are all part of a social network on Google Plus (project compiled and created by Beth Akerman). I was honored to be asked to be part of the book, this year in its third installment. 100% of all the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to a group dealing with body issues and eating disorders, something that affects many women and young girls NOW Love your Body Foundation

To see the full preview or purchase a copy of the book click on the image right or the link here. The print version is large format, 12×15 in glorious color, with 158 pages. Two versions of the book are available for purchase if you’d like to support a good cause and let the images and words on the pages inspire and motivate you.

  • The PDF version is $14.99
  • The hard cover starts at $115.19

I also had one of my images selected as one of the ten images chosen to be part of the print sale, also all donated to raise money for the charity. To see or purchase the images available by print – click here. Book #2 raised over $450 last year – let’s help to break that! Even if you aren’t in a position to purchase a book or a print yourself, please help us by spreading the word and share this article as far and wide as possible! Thanks in advance for your support, you rock!

NOTE get 20% off the book until June 30th if you use the code: HWSI3

The second of my two of my images included in the book (the first is at the top of this article)


Action Plan – what you going to do?

If you’ve been a regular reader of mine for a while you’ll know that I’m all about the action, get off your seat and DO something! So this is no different. I want to hear if this give you any brilliant ideas, or urges to you take action on one you’ve had for a while but haven’t made any progress on yet.

What are you going to do?

Who will you collaborate with?

What are your goals?

Do tell, I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers, until next time.

PS do you like the new photos of me?


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  • Monica Alley

    Many thanks for your delightful art and your generous insights.

    I’m in the process of reading “Quiet”, the book on introversion by Susan Cain. As a self-described ‘moderate introovert’, I find the source of my creativity by going inward rather than by collaborating with others. Although I’m inspired by others’ work and ideas, I create my best art when I’m not distracted by the demands of conversation, negotiation and the like. I find myself wondering if Henri Cartier-Bresson would have been as available to those ‘decisive moments’ had he been in discussion with his collaborator!

    I do belong to a photography group – and sometimes envy people who can create art as part of a collaborative process. However, I suspect there are many other photographers who, like me, find that accessing their creativity is more of a solitary pursuit.

    • Darlene

      Very interesting! I actually saw her speak live last year at an event I attended in Portland! She talked about her book and introverts.

      Thanks for bringing this up, as it gives an entirely different perspective. Perhaps one could even brainstorm on how introverts could collaborate and yet somehow still find their own space and quiet time? Most of the communication on my last one (the image of the tree and poem over top) was done mostly by email back and forth with ideas.

      Thanks for sharing, this is insightful for me too.

  • Monica Alley

    This has certainly sparked some new ideas! Yesterday I talked with a friend who’s interested in writing some poetry to combine with my images. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops…

    • Darlene

      That’s so awesome! Thanks for playing along!

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