As you may know, we’re celebrating collaboration here at Mortal Muses during the month of February. I love a good collaborative blog, so I decided to highlight a few of my favorites here today…specifically those sites with 2 (and in one case, 3) contributors who regularly post side-by-side photos in diptych or triptych form. In the true spirit of collaboration I asked the contributors to send me one of their favorite posts and an answer to the following: “Why do you like to contribute to a collaborative blog? What keeps you going week after week?”

First up, Polaroid Girls. I LOVE what these ladies do, they are super talented with the instant film and cameras. And can you believe it, they’ve been collaborating on this blog for five years! No rules, no themes, these gals just shoot from the heart each week…


I asked contributors Darlene Kreutzer and Kristen Perman what they love about their project, and here’s what they had to say:

Darlene: I enjoy the accountability and that it keeps me shooting, week after week and some weeks, it is the only photograph I take so that feels special. I especially love Sunday evenings when I open Kristen’s email and pull her photo and that moment of seeing them both together feels like our friendship, our connection to each other and how solid that feels in our fifth year of this collaboration. When we started, I was hoping for a full year because the availability with regards to polaroid film in 2009 was filled with such uncertainty and yet that in and of itself feels so hopeful to me because here we are in 2013 with an abundance of impossible film (and I even have a small cache of expired polaroid) and a friendship that has grown so beautifully.

Kristen: I love this collaboration because it’s a committed reason to pick up my camera each week. I love that we have a visual marker of what’s been going on in our lives, especially because there’s such a great contrast in where we both are located. But the best part of this is that we don’t discuss what we’re shooting. The reveal each week is a surprise and it’s remarkable to see how connected our photos are.

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Next up, a wonderful self-portrait blog called She is Three. Each month they tell a visual story from three points of view. They all begin their story with “She + {the chosen verb/phrase of the month}” and finish the sentence with their own unique words and an accompanying self-portrait. Brilliant! This example below is the result of the prompt “She packed her bags”…

She packed her bags triptych 990

Collaborators Vivienne McMaster, Jennifer DeVille Catalano and Deb Taylor were kind enough to tell me their thoughts on this collaborative project:

VivienneIt really is a synergy that happens when we all are telling a story around the same theme but inspired by that month in our lives. I am always in awe of how they seem like they fit together! I love the friendship and connection.  Having that space to meet together and share that with others feels really sacred.

Jennifer: Self-portraiture is a form of therapy, in my opinion. The collaborative blog allows us to express ourselves in a safe and supportive environment.  Some months, we giggle at silly things that happen.  Other times, tears flow as sensitive issues rise to the surface when we meet the challenge of a prompt.  No matter what, our hearts are in it together. This project feels genuine to me, and the courage in our collaboration is contagious.  I find myself willing to open up more and more as each month passes.  No matter how hectic or busy our lives are, we show up.  And I love the anticipation of what our combined artistry will yield any given month.  I get all nervous and excited when the photos come in and I get to see them side by side!

DebI feed off the energy of working with other artists. They become my Muse. I become stretched and challenged by the prompts, and it completes the circle when it all comes together each month with our triptych and the stories behind our photos. The synergy we have is powerful. I appreciate the dedication for a common project. I am constantly amazed with the flow of honesty, vulnerable story telling and cohesive self-portraits that work every month, even when we do not share them before submitting! Now that is magic!

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And then there is London vs. Paris, by Xanthe Berkeley and Irene Nam, which they refer to as a “photographic treasure hunt, looking for the beauty in ordinary things in London & Paris.” Twice weekly, they post their own versions of a pre-determined place, landmark, found object, state of mind, time of day, and more. Here is “clock face”…


Going strong since 2011, they have this to say about their collaboration…

Xanthe: Working with other creatives opens your mind to other possibilities, different ways of working and views of the world. We’d never met before starting the blog, and through creating together we’ve got to know each other really well and we found that we have so much in common and have become good friends. Also working together on a project like this makes you accountable to produce regularly, because it’s a team effort. As we are photographing the same thing, it’s the thrill of seeing the diptychs come together… how they may be similar or different. It’s always such a special surprise, like the time we had the prompt “clock face” and we shot it at the same time!

Irene: One of the reasons why we’ve been doing this for almost two years now is that we genuinely love it. We see the beauty of it. We always say that we will stop when it’s no longer fun. And it is still a lot of fun. We also don’t put any kind of pressure on ourselves. We don’t check traffic or really try to promote the blog. We take breaks on occasion. We love how this collaboration encourages us to go out and shoot, and consistently reminds us that the details of every day life, as imperfect, messy and trivial as they are, are what makes it beautiful. And of course, we are most grateful for the true friendship.

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And finally, I should mention my own collaborative blog with my dear friend Anika Toro, Me & You, 52. Anika and I have never met, but through this blog, our photos and emails we’ve become friends. We’ve just started our second year using one-word prompts based on letters of the alphabet, shooting and editing only with mobile devices. This is our most recent diptych, “E is for Eyes”…

eyes diptych

I asked Anika to share her thoughts on our project…

AnikaCollaborating is one of my favorite things to do.  Which is strange because a lot of the time I get in this odd, uncomfortable place of not knowing what to create, of wanting to make someone else happy but keep my integrity and stay true to myself.  But it’s this lesson of letting go; of trusting what I want to envision and create that is often the best part about collaborating.  Working with someone else forces something out of me and my imagination that wouldn’t be pulled out otherwise.  With Me & You, 52 the collaboration works a little easier. It’s different than any other collaborative project I have done before.  Most of the time Christy and I don’t know what the other will submit until the post is up on Monday morning.  For me, that’s when the start of inspiration often occurs.  I can marvel that we thought something so similar or that our colors mesh so perfectly that the diptych looks planned.  It’s in those moments when I look at connections differently, when I am inspired to create something again, when I am given drive to keep up with the challenge every week.  Being inspired is the icing on top of the cake.  But I love the hidden surprises that await me in each cut piece.  Each week  I look forward to seeing what happens in the unknown that can only be created within collaborating.

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Thanks to all of you ladies for collaborating with me on this post, it was so fun to put together and learn a little bit more about your work together!

If you are interested in seeing more of their beautiful images, please check out the links to each of the collaborative and individual blogs and flickr streams linked throughout the post. If you have a collaborative blog of your own, or others you’d like to share, please tell us in the comments today. Or, maybe this will be just the spark you need to find a partner and start your own collaboration.

See you soon!

Christy | Urban Muser