Thursday, April 12, 2012

Collaboration Misconception

Something rather odd and rather horrible happened to me today that I have to say, I'm still confused as to how it escalated to the point that it did.
Recently I've signed up to ASOS in a bid to use the platform like a mini fashion Ebay to expand my audience and hopefully sell a dress or two via the interwebs. As a casual user, there are of course many terms and conditions one must adhere to, in particular the photographic requirements are rather strict. They require the photos to be taken in natural daylight, full body, with all detail shown in the one shot, with a simple background. No studio shoots, editorial shoots or photo shopped images, which leaves me a little stuck as all of my pictures have either been studio or editorial to date, which is fine with me, but not with ASOS.
So I needed to post a casting call, which I did, on an online forum which I have used previously without any dramas but today, it all blew up into a big cloud of crap.
Perhaps I didn't explain what I needed properly, or maybe it was interpreted wrong, but my casting call for a TFP Photographer to shoot my product for my ASOS store, turned into a mini attack on yours truly by the army of professional photographers on the forum. I was questioned as to why I was not paying for my photographer and my harmless photo shoot was branded a "commercial shoot" and I was told despite the fact that I had explained my amateur nature, that I should be paying everyone if I was to make money from the photos taken.
This is why I'm so so confused by how my casting call turned into an online war. As a designer you make clothes, clothes that hopefully someone will look at and decide they want to buy. As a photographer you take photos and eventually someone will hire you to take photos, but without the proof of skill no one would hire you, you can't simply tell someone "I'm good at what I do!" without any proof, just as you can not sell a dress simply by telling someone about it, they need to see it.
Now I understand that it might seem like I'm making more money out of an arrangement where by I end up making a sale due to a photograph of my dress, but does that mean that when the photographer who took the photo gets paid for a shoot in the future, because their potential client liked a photo that I styled or provide a garment for, they should pay me? Well no, because it doesn't work like that. One picture of my dress won't guarantee it gets sold, just as one photograph wouldn't land someone a job, so really I'm not getting money just because of one picture, I'm getting an opportunity to make money, just is everyone else involved. 
You collaborate with people to get experience, you build relationships this way and one day when I'm making money, I will ensure that the people I hire for paid work, are the people that worked with me when I couldn't pay for it. I think what upset me the most about today was that the first person to negatively comment on my post was someone I had previously worked with, introduced to contacts and who was now working TFP with people I had introduced them to. It hurts the most when someone you respect and admire comes down on you, and questions your integrity. I've always been a firm believer of collaboration, and I don't even remember the last shoot I was paid for. I do Charity shows for charities sake, I work for free, I cover any damages incurred to any of my garments, that's just what you do when your starting out. But I guess not everyone sees it this way. Or perhaps there was some misunderstanding in which the photographers thought I was a professional label just trying to exploit the young and talented? No matter, their opinion is their own.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone I've worked with in the past, for you have all been fabulous and I see you all making great strides in your chosen fields. I know when the time comes we'll all be sitting back sipping champagne thanking our lucky stars for one anothers collaboration, time and skill. To those people who contacted me after my slandering, thank you, your kind words and support mean more than you know to me, and to those who were commenting in a unfavourable fashion, it's ok, I have a black book, and your now in it.

"Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It is what you do for others"
Danny Thomas