Better together

Sometimes when you’re so used to being independent and doing things alone, the idea of collaboration and working together is unappealing. After all, your past has shown that you don’t need to work with someone else to get things done, so why should you change that.

However, sometimes from collaborating with others it allows us to focus on our strengths. We’re then able to produce something that is much better than if we were to try and do everything.

For example, lets say that you work in product photography/prop styling.

A job may require someone to source props, someone to come up with a theme and provide creative direction, the stylist who puts the props together and then a photographer to take the photos.

Just because you can do all those jobs yourself, doesn’t mean you should. You may be an amazing prop stylist but if you’re not really a photographer maybe working with one would help you produce better results. And of course you can learn new skills but sometimes trying to split yourself between too many things just reduces your ability to do any one thing well. This then brings brings down the overall quality of the final result.

And so, maybe it’s worth shifting our perspective to realise that sometimes things might be good when we do them alone but they’ll be better if we do them together.

The pros and cons of an Instagram portfolio

Some thoughts I had whilst thinking about where to share my photos in the future.

I’m not a photographer but over the past couple of years my interest in prop styling/ product photography has grown and I really enjoy taking photos. I’ve thought about creating a portfolio website to share my work but then I found myself wondering if it was even necessary. The intention would be to also share on Instagram however, I started to think that perhaps just having Instagram would be enough.

Pros

Used by over 1 billion

Your work has the potential to reach so many people because Instagram is such a popular app. On the other hand your website may be much harder to find.

Create a community of fellow creatives

You’re likely to find through the use of hashtags a community of fellow creatives. Not just people that take photos but people in your city, peopke you can learn from, people you can teach and people you can grow with.

Directly interact with your audience

The people viewing, liking and commenting on your work may just be random people that think your photos are interesting. However, they could also be potential clients. But you also have the chance to interact with your audience and take them on a journey with you.

Cons

Image quality

Sometimes the images you post to your Instagram feed are of a reduced quality when compared to if they were uploaded to a site

Limited flexibility on how you can present

Compared to a website Instagram offers little flexibility. There are some things you can do to present images differently such as placing them on a white square that you post to your feed. But overall everything on Instagram is fairly uniform.

Getting distracted

Instagram comes with many distractions. As much as it allows you to interact with fellow creatives and an audience who may become potential clients, you can also end up wasting a lot of time. From getting distracted by the number of likes and followers to replying to comments and spending hours scrolling. In contrast when updating an online portfolio you won’t have notifications and messages to distract you.


I also think having a website can make a person appear more trustworthy, legitimate and professional. Anyone can have an Instagram account but taking the time to create a website isn’t something everyone would do. As someone who enjoys having their own personal space to share work online, the idea of only having an Instagram portfolio isn’t particularly appealing.

I think a website is the perfect base or foundation for your work, to share a bit about yourself, provide contact info and also what work people can pay you for. On the flipside Instagram is great for a more causal approach such as chatting with followers, sharing behind the scenes and answering questions.

In search of community

I think a key part of being creative is doing it as part of a community.

Community is really important. You don’t need to be working on a joint project you can simply work on your individual projects together. Being part of a community can help keep you motivated and accountable, give you people to bounce ideas off and act as a sounding board. Plus, you have people to share your progress and growth with. All those things you can gain are also the things you’re able to give.

There are the kind of communities that you pay for with a monthly membership fee. There is usually some sort of leader or overseer even if they don’t interact with the members directly.

But there is also community formed when a few people (sometimes total strangers) decide to come together. In this case, there is no leader or hierarchy. This is what I’m currently in search of.

I’ve been sharing my work online for close to a decade and it has always been a solitary pursuit. However, lately the idea of community has really appealed to me, both online and offline.

What would Jimi Hendrix do?

It could be Jimi Hendrix or it could be Jesus .

As much as I am a champion for being yourself and searching within to find your own way, I think having someone that inspires you can be incredibly helpful.

It can helpful when you’re just starting out and haven’t quite found your own flow yet but it can also be helpful as a reminder no matter where you are on your journey.

I think issues can arise when you’re trying to be like another person so I think it’s important to be very conscious of how you use this tool/technique.

If you’re trying to become like the other person doing the same things that they’ve done or changing your appearance to look like them, you’re not quite heading down the right path. A healthy way to do it is to identify the qualities of the person that cause you to look up to or be inspired by them and know that those qualities are also within you.

And so when you ask yourself ‘What would Jimi Hendrix do?‘ what you’re actually asking is something like ‘In this moment, how can be more creative?’.

Don’t try, just be

I think it could be said that one of the biggest things that holds us back is that we try to hard to be a specific type of way or create a certain kind of thing. Often our efforts go into emulating what we have already seen done and the way that we think or have been told that things should be.

When this occurs instead of just doing our work and creating, we put limits on ourselves.

Suddenly, the ideas you have end up being tweaked and altered because you haven’t seen things done that way and you’d rather go with what’s been seen to work.

I think a reason we do this is because we don’t have enough self belief to really do things the way we want plus, we want things to work out.

When you’re someone that creates, you never want to put your heart and soul into something and it not be well received. People not taking to your work feels personal because it came from you and often we end up internalising that feeling and coming up with stories like ‘I’m not good enough…’.

The way to avoid all this is to just be, just create. The more you create, the more you find your own flow and no longer feel like you need to mimic others. The work you do will become so much more gratifying.

The more you create, the more you lower the stakes. The first time you create something that comes from you might be scary but over time once it becomes more familiar, it will get easier.

What’s missing?

I’m a big believer in creativity, in art and in making things.

That’s the thing that has always been my joy in life.

It’s not something that I do for a living or get paid for. However, I value it just as much, if not more than my day job.

It feels special to make things, to work my hands to allow something to be transformed into something else.

I don’t think I’ve been doing that enough lately. I’ve had small moments here and there but not enough consistency.

That’s what I’m missing right now, immersing myself in making, creating and using my hands.

How creatives find their flow

It’s much easier than you might think.

The creative flow or state of being inspired is often held in high regard. It’s put on a pedestal as this magical thing.

People often like to ask creatives about their process in order to understand how they are able to do what they do.

But the thing is, finding your creative flow is just like finding anything else, you have to look for it. It might not be right in front of you and you might encounter a few flows that just aren’t quite right but that shouldn’t stop you from looking.

All of a sudden you’ll find it and your work will change. The good bits will get even better and you’ll have more of those moments where it comes to you with such ease that you’ll look back and wonder if you were in a trance.

And that is all there is to it. You can’t figure out what works without encountering the stuff that doesn’t work.

Putting it out there

Your job is to create and then put it out there.

It might not get the amount of views you want or it could be loved by millions, that is not something you have any control over.

It’s not your job to try and convince people that your work is good. In fact, you need to learn to be okay with the fact that some people won’t like it.

Focus on creating your work for the people that want it. That might only be a few to begin with but those people are important.

Creating for your audience

When it comes to being creative and putting stuff out there, often we end up focusing on the wrong thing.

We ignore the audience we already have and put our efforts into reaching new people with the hope of growing and growing.

However, what often ends up happening is we lose our current audience in the process because they no longer feel like we’re creating for them.

Instead, you’re much better off putting your efforts into creating for the people that are already here. Those people are already interested and given time will care enough to spread the word, if what you’re putting out is good enough.

It doesn’t matter where you share your work

When it comes to being someone who is creative, puts stuff out there and has ideas to share there is one piece of advice I’ve heard from two people that will never grow old.

It is something worth remembering as things change and develop over time.

The advice is to not become attached to the platforms where you share your work but to use them to your advantage in a way that works for you. Instead your focus should be on the work, the idea or the message.

When you do this, it doesn’t matter where you share your work. It could be on IGTV, pictures and captions on your Instagram feed, Insta stories, IG reels, a podcast, YouTube videos, blog posts, a newsletter, Facebook, or even snapchat.

And when a platform changes or becomes obsolete you can seamlessly shift to something else.