Collaborations: Good Fun but Hard Work!

I’m a big fan of collaborations. They inspire, motivate and challenge me and push me to do things differently and break old habits. They’re also great fun and I get to meet people who I’d otherwise have never known.

Most recently, Helen McLean and I have completed two photo shoots together with several other ideas in the works. And while it is a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of hard work. I thought I’d share with you all, the process we undertook for our most recent shoot.

Thinking Up An Idea
Sounds easy but not necessarily! We both have a love of 1950s Pin Up art and knew that we wanted to somehow emulate it. After our previous shoot using Hosier Lane in Melbourne, known for its graffiti, we wanted to maintain the use of unusual locations. The specifics were somewhat in the air when we decided to go home and think up something awesome to do.

Research
With a vague idea of what we were hoping to achieve I started scouring Op Shops and Costume Hire stores. I did so many google image searches and flicked through so many old magazines that my fingers hurt. The aim of the game was to find something to inspire the shoot. It happened that I stumbled across an authentic powder blue maid’s dress and the wheels started turning in my head. The emails back and forth between Helen and I escalated as we nutted out the exact look we wanted and how we were going to make it work.

Sourcing Everything
This is my favourite bit (how do I make this a full time job I wonder?). We started to hunt down particular costumes, props, equipment and locations. Where can I get blue hair rollers? Can I get 1950s ones? Who do I know that would have an upright Hoover? How are we going to light the shoot? When do I have time to drive all over the place looking for locations? Do we need special permission to shoot where we want? How do I attach blue fluff to my shoes? Helen even got out the sewing machine and made a matching apron and headscarf especially for the shoot! All this time consuming and fiddly work ensures everything runs smoothly on the day.

Logistics
For this shoot I had to drive out to Bacchus Marsh to pick up two Hoovers. Helen drove out to Ivanhoe to collect some studio lights. And I had to pick up the blue dress I was hiring prior to the shoot. We decided that having a hairdresser put all the rollers in my hair would save time so that had to happen first thing in the morning. The car had to be packed right to keep everything secure. Lists were required to ensure nothing was forgotten at home. With only x amount of time and energy to pull off the shoot we had to ensure things were well organised.

Shooting on Location
Always my favourite way to shoot but it has it’s own set of challenges. Our method of collaborating is to take turns photographing each other. That results in two oddly dressed women out and about in public. (Boy we got some odd looks when we took half an hour for lunch!) People interrupt, the light changes, people park 1990s cars in the background of your 1950s shoot… bringing along some spontaneity is a must to adapt to the circumstances at hand. And not being shy helps too! Scouting out locations prior to the shoot becomes very valuable when wanting to capture the best light and avoid the crowds.

It’s a Wrap
So let’s jump past all the “returning stuff to people” and associated logistics and look at when we got back and looked through the days shots together. We went through each image flagging our favourites and quietly pushed aside the “not so favourites.” Then we both took home a copy of the raw images for any postproduction we wanted to do. The agreement was to post whichever images from the favourites we each wanted, but with a standardised % mark up so that in the instance of ‘doubles’ we were not undercutting each other on price.

Then we both got stuck into it and the final results can be found here

BUT! We couldn’t have done it alone- there are some thank yous in order.

Anne van Alkemade so very kindly gave Helen and I the use of two upright hoovers for the shoot. They were featured in several shots. THANK YOU! Peter Kelly, the darling, trusted us with his studio lights and even sent us off with a spare light globe. THANK YOU! Centre Stage in Brunswick supplied the powder blue dress used for the shoot – THANK YOU! The Lovely Anna did my hair. (I’ll post her contact details ASAP) AND of course the always wonderful and fun, Helen McLean partner in crime and co-collaborator. Couldn’t have happened without you…

….And the music starts playing to get me off the podium as I wipe my teary eyes! Well, collaborations are all about people working together after all!

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