Collaboration can be an indispensable path to creativity. So much of my photography is a solitary endeavor: traveling, exploring and photographing scenes and subjects as I find them in the world. Some would call this style “street photography” or documentary photography. When I’m out in the world with my camera, I’m trying not to just be an observer, though I’m always looking. I’m hunting, actively, for stories, not scenes. Many people think this type of photography is about being in the right place at the right time. But there’s far more to it than that. In order to be in the right place at the right time, you have to be where you are, fully, and intentionally, in order to be receptive to the stories that are unfolding in front of you. When working in the studio, as I have been this winter, I am discovering that the most important element is working in collaboration with others. Golden Hour is a recent collaboration with two talented and creative friends: model Kati Kelly and makeup and SFX artist Nina Alviar. Both Kati and Nina have worked with me before, but this was the first time we all worked together.

This collaboration taught me something very important about creativity: it isn’t often a force that comes from inside us, just as it is not something we can receive from others. Creativity is a balance that is achieved between creators and the world around them. Far more important than the placement of lights, or the camera settings, is the energy that brings the collaborators together, and the respect they bring to the others to help make the moment happen. The best collaborations are ones which flow, without hierarchy, with all participants enjoying their creative space. I have to say, these types of collaboration are hard to come by, but when they do, the results are electrifying. And the results are not just the images, but the continued creative energy that leads to the next shoot. For me, now, that’s actually the most important thing: the next shoot. Creativity is always a path to take you forward.

A good collaboration is one in which each participant sees their hand in the work but also knows that the work could not have been done alone. It is theater, and to work well, each player has to know what value they bring and trust that their collaborators are listening and ready to respond. It takes great presence, and respect for the ensemble to bring the story to life.