The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Building a Team and Juggling Agendas - and Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres - Episode 13

I talk quite a bit in Episode 13 about collaboration, building a team, and juggling different agendas.

In some ways, I think it's the way I embrace these things that separates me out from most other photographers.

By and large, photography is a solitary pursuit. The typical image is of someone with a camera around their neck heading into the wilderness to capture an amazing sunrise, or wildlife in action. Even if they have assistants it is only to aid them in their venture. They are still the ones who have the complete vision and will execute it.

With the move towards documentary or fly-on-the-wall wedding photography, even this genre can be more like wildlife, or street photography, as you are looking to capture those "decisive moments".

The photographer as observer, recorder, documenter.

She or he sits outwith the action in order to witness it.

Portraiture on the other hand, requires the input of another person. I can have the biggest camera, with the most expensive lighting system, in the most amazing location, but if the subject is nervous or uncomfortable or unhappy in any way, then I don't get my photo.

So in order to be an effective portrait photographer you have to have a certain level of people skills. You have to find ways of being able to put them at their ease. You have to make them feel empowered rather than victimised by the process.

Of course this is what puts a lot of photographers off portraiture. Let's face it, most of us are struggling most of the time with coping with our own feelings of fear, insecurity and imposter syndrome, so the idea of having to deal with someone else's as well can seem way too scary.

But not me. For some reason I love the interaction; I love making people feel more at ease; I love empowering others.

Even then, it's a bit of a leap from dealing with people on a one-to-one basis, to trying to cope with a whole team.

Because unlike the person who hires in a driver, a personal assistant, and porters, I'm very often working with a very limited budget, which means the hairdresser, makeup artist and models may well be working for free, or in exchange for use of the photos to promote their own businesses.

So at this point, I'm not only having to satisfy the client, I have to be able to satisfy the agendas of everyone else on the set. Especially if I ever want to use their services again.

And yet, I find I can thrive in this environment too.

I enjoy being part of something bigger than me; to be able to bring everyone on board with the vision and then trust them to carry out their part of it.

It allows me to create on a level I would never be able to do on my own.

While there are many photographers for whom social distancing isn't making a great deal of difference – the lone wolf mentality offers a protection of sorts – for me, this aspect of Lockdown I find particularly difficult to deal with.

For now all I can do is talk about the excitement of collaboration and shooting with a team.

It could be a while before I can practice it again.


0:00 - Introduction - what's coming up
2:16 - Background to the fashion shoot at the "Rural Mural"
5:10 - Assembling a team
11:41 - Preparing the models and taking a few behind-the-scenes photos
13:33 - creating a behind-the-scenes video
15:22 - the importance of coffee and snacks
20:15 - understanding the different agendas of the people you collaborate with
43:00 - Critiquing images
1:19:50 - Coming up next week

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And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then do join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:

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