Sometimes, it can be difficult for artists to branch out and partner up with fellow creatives. The hesitation may stem from a lack of trust and healthy fear that someone might steal your ideas (because that happens). Or, maybe you prefer to work alone in your creative space without others butting in or derailing your focus when you’re on a roll. While those are understandable concerns—I’ve had them myself—I can honestly say that some of my best work and most significant growth as an artist have come from working with other creatives. Of course, you may not (and probably should not) collaborate on every project, but don’t shy away from test shoots and opportunities to work with others now and then.
But First, What Are Creatives?
Put simply, creatives are people who create. Whether they write, paint, design, craft, capture or record, creatives see the world a little differently and are always looking to influence, inspire, and intrigue through their work. They enjoy producing art, whatever that may mean for their role and industry. They’re the creators. As a commercial, food, and product photographer, fellow industry creatives include:
- Product Designers
- Copywriters/Graphic Designers
- Advertising/Marketing Professionals
- Industry Vendors
- Culinary Experts
Why You Should Say, “Yes!” to a Test Shoot
Fresh Perspective + New Ideas
Not everyone is out to steal your ideas, especially if they fill an entirely different creative role. Instead, a test shoot is a great way to expand your work and challenge your capabilities. Maybe a marketing creative comes up with a tagline that inspires a particular image you can’t wait to depict. Or perhaps the flavors of a chef-inspired dish elicit a certain mood or vibe you can’t wait to work into your project. A test shoot can help you break out of your creative box, especially if you’ve been in a slump. Even if you have a signature style, it’s ok to pull from other sources to find inspiration.
Learn to Work Together
There’s a reason we have to teach kids to share—collaboration doesn’t always come naturally. Working together requires patience, selflessness, cooperation, and a positive attitude. It’s a skill worth practicing because becoming a team player will make larger, high-stress jobs much easier. Instead of focusing solely on your own contributions, take time to listen to others and gather input from team members. When done well, the end result is a seamless, cohesive masterpiece! Plus, you’ll get a feel for who you work well with so you can reach out to them again on future projects. It’s natural to connect a bit more with some and less with others.
Make Industry Connections
Making connections on social media or professional networking platforms like Alignable or LinkedIn is just not the same as connecting in person. Personality, communication, and style play significant roles in building solid connections. If you know the person and you’ve worked with them before, you’re more likely to reconnect later.
If you’re looking to make more connections, scheduling test shoots with industry creatives is a great way to get your foot in the door and book more projects. You’ll probably get more referrals that way as well. It’s hard for others to vouch for you if they’ve never met you.
Expand Your Portfolio
Having a signature style or look is crucial to your brand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself. Expand your portfolio by partnering up with other industry creatives. Test shoots provide perfect opportunities to try new things and give you more wiggle room since you don’t have any project constraints—you can’t fail a test shoot. While you experiment with new mediums and ideas, you’ll find things that work, and you can show them off in your portfolio.
Share the Love
And finally, each collaborator can share the love and tag the others on social media and give backlinks on their blogs so you can all reach a few more people. If you each have 1,500 followers, and there are five collaborators on the test shoot, boom, you just expanded your reach exponentially! It’s a great way to get viewers without awkward solicitation.
A Word of Warning
Collaboration is awesome—with the right people. As you grow, you’ll probably receive more and more invites from people with comments like, “Let’s collab!” or “Promote it on [X website].” It’s probably wise to ignore most of those (especially on Instagram). Only collaborate on test shoots that are worth your time with people you’ve heard of and know to be authentic industry professionals.
View Recent Lindsay K Test Shoots
Need some examples? Head to my site for a mixture of client work and test shoots. Can you identify which is which?
Lindsay is a Los Angeles-based food, product, and commercial photographer. She specializes in Still Product & Food Photography, Lifestyle & Portrait Photography, Stop Motion, and Food Styling. Connect with her here for product marketing!