Alumnus Olaf Willoughby – Collaborative Creativity

Why don’t photographers collaborate more often?

Collaboration is how we get through the day. Most of us have some kind of interactive support; from partners, teachers, friends and family. It is also commonplace in science and the arts. From Marie & Pierre Curie through Rogers and Hammerstein to Picasso & Braque inventing Cubism. Andy Goldsworthy even enlists the land as his partner.

Other artistic relationships are built around co-operating individuals; collectives like the Bauhaus or Futurist movements, or author/editor, choreographer/dancer.
Now think photography. What comes to mind? I’m betting on an image of someone working solo making all the creative and technical decisions. There are examples of photographic collaboration (Bernd & Hilla Becher, Broomberg & Chanarin) but they are few. At best a photographer might work together with a book packager or gallery curator but even then they are rarely achieving genuine artistic collaboration; that is, sharing in the original creative process.
Yet we live in an age of transformative technology.  Virtual communities, mash-up, remix, the web has led to an explosion of sharing. Artists who start with existing artworks are changing traditional notions of creation, copying and consumption. Creative ‘play’ and learning from each other has never been easier. For photographers, tools like Google + Hangouts and the Adobe Creative Cloud can revolutionise our ways of working.
To be clear, I’m not dismissing our role as individual artists. Collaboration is not a replacment for the way we work now but it adds an extra dimension. I’m asking the question that as photographers, maybe we’re missing an opportunity to develop our voice and vision?
Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to work on several collaborations. Examples are:

Confluence is a film based multiple exposure project shared with Shayne Lynn and Ramya Reddy. It is due to go on Kickstarter in April.

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