5 Ways to Turn Competition Into Collaboration

Photography

May 27, 2018

I’m fairly certain that pretty much anything can be turned into a competition. 

Who has the best job?

Who’s the happiest?

Who is the most successful?

Why do we care? And aren’t these kind of things relative? 

For some reason, I’ve noticed that we’re a culture that naturally tends to be quite competitive. It sucks. Even in the creative world, I’ve seen people grow jealous of someone else’s concept or execution, and there really isn’t a need for jealousy. Instead, we should be inspired by one another and compelled to create something even better together.

Here’s 5 ways to cultivate these relationships:

1. MAKE THE FIRST MOVE. 

I hate to say it, but people aren’t going to be waiting outside your door asking to work with you all the time. Sometimes we have to ask for what we want. We can’t expect people to read our minds and know what we want…we have to ask. Social media basically does the work for us these days – so message someone that inspires you and see if they would be open to the idea of working on a project with you. You might get a ‘no,’ but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!

2. START WITH COFFEE.

Sometimes working on something together remotely can be difficult. It means a lot of back and forth and delayed communication. If it’s your first time meeting up with someone you’re looking to potentially collaborate with, sometimes starting off with a coffee date helps. Coming up with a concept can be tough, but sometimes the chill atmosphere of a coffeehouse mixed with some inspiring company can help. Grabbing a good ol’ cup of joe is a great way to exchange tips and tricks, offer feedback to one another, and get acquainted before starting a collaboration. 

3. GET OVER YOURSELF. 

I’m sorry, but at some point we all have to. There’s always going to be someone out there doing something that we don’t know how to do quite yet. And that’s alright. You probably generate some pretty rad concepts and have a unique outlook on life, and that’s all fine and dandy…but someone out there has a different view point that will help your work whether you realize it or not. Be courteous of other perspectives and be open to seeing through someone else’s lens and I can guarantee it will improve your work tenfold. 

4. GIVE AND YOU’LL RECEIVE.

Surprise! Collaborations are a two-way street. DO NOT EXPECT TO JUST TAKE. Not only will this make people less likely to collaborate with you in the future, but it’s honestly just wrong. If someone taught you a skill you’ve been dying to know for months and you don’t reciprocate, we have a problem. People will be more likely to help you out when you need it most if you lend a helping hand in your areas of expertise. 

Why are we so afraid of sharing our tips and tricks? DON’T BE. It’s a compliment if someone else wants to learn from you – it means you’re doing something right. I mean you never know if someone is going to start copying you, but even if they do, so what? They will never be able to create the exact same thing as you in the future, because they simply don’t have the same perspective as you do. So stop feeling like sharing is such a bad thing. 

5. DON’T FORGET TO VALUE YOURSELF AND YOUR WORK.

Piggybacking off of number 4, don’t forget to value your skill sets. I can’t even tell you how many times I made this mistake, especially when I was starting off in photography. People used to ask to ‘collaborate’ all the time, and eventually I realized they were just using me for free pictures and I was getting nothing in return. 

There came a point in time when I didn’t really need to grow my portfolio anymore, and people would ask to collaborate. I would agree, and after the shoot they wouldn’t give me photo credentials. What does this mean? It means I lost. It wasn’t a collaboration anymore, because I wasn’t getting anything out of it, but my counterparts were. 

My point is to make sure that you and your counterpart are offering a fair trade. Before you make an agreement, think about what you’re getting out of the project and what you’re able to bring to the table. It’s not really a collaboration if it’s a win-lose situation. It should be a win-win. That’s the basis of collaboration. Two-way streets people!¬†

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