When Cara announced this month’s theme, I immediately thought to myself, what a wonderful way to get acquainted with another photographer, to share in her world, to experience her life. What better way to seek inspiration than by exploring my work through the eyes of another? I wondered how our photos would look side-by-side. Would our shots live together in perfect harmony? Or would our worlds collide? I would soon find out.
I contacted my German friend and brilliant photographer Claudia Lommel, who many of you know as pictress on flickr and instagram, to jump on the experience together. Claudia and I first met online while taking an e-course and later met in person in Frankfurt where we discovered our artistic souls were traveling the same path. From the moment I saw her, I knew it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. After all, she showed up at the cafe wearing a green tulle skirt. “Perfect, she said, for shooting a bench Monday shot!” And it was!
I contacted Claudia with a few ideas and she responded with more of her own. For our first collaboration, we thought we’d start close to home. We decided we’d take a series of pictures of our personal environments, share them with one another and afterwards shoot the equivalent in our own homes. In other words, she’d give me a group of shots that I was to match, and vice versa. This evolved into sharing a collective day together which extended into special details we also chose to highlight.
I’ll be honest; I had a vision of my work that I didn’t quite equal. Perhaps I’d idealized the final product too deeply in my head ignoring the fact that an artistic process takes place to get there. So when Claudia’s first group of shots arrived, beautifully presented along with coordinating text, my heart sank. “Crap, I thought. I can’t shoot like that. How will I ever make my world look as beautiful as hers”? In fact, I would love to emulate Claudia’s style of shooting, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I told her this almost immediately, and she responded that she’d thought the same thing about me! How funny! We WERE perfectly matched for this project! Now it was time to begin.
I enjoyed seeking out the counterpart in my own home while wondering what she would find to share with me. And although I promised to treat the printouts of her photos as a shot list, somehow I seemed to head off course. Every time I looked into the viewfinder to see if I’d matched up a shot, I found it looked lifeless and lacking. And then it dawned on me; we’d never set the parameters around reproducing one another’s style, just subject matter. After this freedom ensued. I tracked down my keychain to join with her ring. I snapped my world the way I see it and enjoyed looking at Claudia’s work while shooting mine. As you can see throughout this post, in some ways we are very similar, and in others perhaps not different, but instead distinctive to our personal styles and certainly complimentary to one another.
Throughout the month, you’ve seen collaborations from all over the world. One of the beautiful things about collaboration is that it challenges us to branch out into new possibilities opening our eyes to new styles, new ways of shooting and hopefully taking our work to places bigger than we could have imagined. We can pair up our skills to emphasize them, or we can challenge one another to try something new. You never know what might happen. Perhaps by jumping into a collaborative endeavor and combining your ideas with another’s, you can leap across the line of your capability into something extraordinarily exciting.
So I challenge you to do something similar. Pair up with a friend, open your hearts and share your worlds. Jump out of your comfort zone and explore your potential. You never know what could happen! Be sure to share your work with us in our flickr group or if you’ve already embarked on a collaborative journey, share with us in comments today so we know where to find you!