Boudoir photographers know that collaborations with vendors that fit their brand can be extremely beneficial for all parties involved. It alleviates some cost of the product for the photographer and it gives the vendor professional images for their sites. Getting connected for shoots such as this is not as difficult or impossible as it may seem.
Collaborating simply to post that you are working with a company will not be favorable to any parties involved. Know first why you want to partner with another company beyond just a connection on social media. Collaborations can work for you by building a broader audience, saving money by the use of their products or wardrobe for your session, aligning with a larger company for future projects, and advertising purposes across another outlet.
Understand your own brand before attempting to contact a certain vendor. This is important to not only know which company will work for you but also that you do not sound indecisive when speaking with the company at hand. Be upfront on what you can bring to the table prior to asking for what you need from them. The balance of give and take will be important to establishing a solid connection that is grounded with professionalism. Keep in mind your own values as well when looking into another company so everyone is on the same page.
Is your brand more on the fine art side or modern? Do you shoot in a style that will compliment the product or will it confuse buyers? Financially is it worth it to you for trade work or will it hurt you in the long run? Will the products you are shooting be of value to you current clients or will it be out of their range? Basic questions such as these are what a Boston-based photographer knew prior to contacting a lingerie company in order to collaborate with on a project.
Making The Connections
Once you have established the type of vendor that works for your brand, find the correct person to contact so you are not being handed off throughout the company. VienneMilano is a Boston-based luxury hosiery brand that had recently been looking to collaborate with photographers to create content for social media channels. Shawn Black of Couture Black Photography had been looking to work with them for a some time "since they are a local company and their brand philosophy fit well with mine," wrote Black. He found out about this opportunity by their blog and social media. Keep the initial contact professional and clear on your intentions. If you are contacting them without a call for photographer request it is important to give a detailed explanation on the reason behind your call. If you are responding to a request, such as in the case of VienneMilano, make sure you explain how you found out about the opportunity.
Black writes that if you are looking to connect and collaborate with a company it is best to keep up with them on these outlets. He feels this is important in order to learn about the company you are trying to reach out too as well as finding these opportunities in the mix. Do not be shy about researching the company to see how they engage with their own audience. If there are many negative issues you do not want to be tied into a company that could possibly bring your engagement down.
As in all photography genres, it is important to have collaborations with other companies. For boudoir photographers, lingerie companies are the perfect fit not only that the connection can help facilitate a new audience for both parties but also for wardrobe for future clientele. Black writes that the benefits from the collaboration have been multifaceted. The team together created an Instagram Story throughout the day as the shoot was happening in order to bring engagement prior to the final images.
Be upfront with your intentions and what you plan to give in the end so there is no question on how many images will be delivered. On the other end of the deal make sure to know what is expected of you in terms of providing the model, location, or stylists.
Options, Options, and More Options
Make sure to give the vendor or designer multiple options to chose from either during the session tethered or during the reveal of the images after. If you are shooting only one model bring them to various locations on the site to make sure the company has options to chose from. If you stay static in one spot shooting they may come back weeks later and ask for more options which will only make another day of trade work in your future. "The resulting images featuring their beautiful thigh highs are a great addition to my own portfolio and social media channels as well as theirs, Black wrote. "By aligning with them it has given my brand greater exposure to their clients and followers reinforcing my work as luxury and high end. To my existing following [it] creates excitement that I am working with [an] amazing brand."
A few other ways to get the collaboration some serious attention:
- Behind-the-scenes video to make the audience feel part of the project.
- Blogging before, during, or after the session.
- If you are shooting wardrobe, shooting a few body types will give you more portfolio looks and give the company alternative options for showing the product.
- Request a discount code with your name for your clients to get the exclusive VIP treatment.
- See if there is a possibility to run a contest together.
- Posting across social media about the shoot.
Black encourages other photographers new to collaborations not to be intimidated. If your brand fits well with theirs it will be mutually beneficial all around. If you keep the shoot and the project professional and on track, the company will be more likely to contact you for future projects. Some companies will even work an affiliate code program that can help your clients receive discounts as well as paying you anytime someone buys that certain product you photographed.
All images courtesy of Shawn Black. Lingerie provided by VienneMilano.