Sunday, 5. May 2013 23:42
Although there exist legends about dictatorial theatre directors and outrageous choreographers and tyrannical movie stars, most of us who work in theatre know that the best theatre work is consistently produced by collaboration. Ensemble acting is valued above the star system. Ideas come from everywhere. Even though the director is responsible for putting everything together, musical directors, choreographers, actors, designers, cinematographers, assistant directors also contribute. No one denies the vision of the director or the producer, but there are also views that are presented by others that the wise visionary will consider. Only the foolish refuse to listen.
All photographers who shoot people understand that a really good session is the result of the teamwork between subject and photographer, as well as art director if there is one (and sometimes even the client). But the collaboration of subject and photographer is the core and is undeniable. Shooting someone who has modeling or acting training produces results that are far superior to those involving an unschooled model. It is true that some photographers can get excellent results from the untrained, but the odds are against them, and if the stakes are high, most photographers will choose skilled models every time.
Some artists claim to work completely alone, neither giving nor receiving input from others, no matter how casual. Those people, I think, are rare. We all talk to others, and often we talk to other artists. What is said cannot but influence our work. Even in the arts that appear to be the work of the isolated artist, collaboration can play a very important part. Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris, makes this point clearly, suggesting that the successes of the many artists living in Paris in the 1920s resulted from their close association and sharing (or stealing) ideas and concepts. Indeed, painters, [still-life] photographers, collagists, sculptors, animators, computer artists, and writers often explore ideas with other artists, or get ideas from conversations with other artists either in their own media or in others.
On several occasions, discussions with other artists have caused me to take a new approach to a piece of work, or consider possibilities that I had not done before. Some would say that this is just stealing an idea, but it is actually more than that. Instead of just an idea put forward, the interchange would actually lead to a different way of thinking and then to the new piece; sometimes, in the process of creating the new piece, other conversations would occur, perhaps the seeking of advice or clarification of the idea or perhaps just exploring the subject that was on my mind. There have also been occasions in working with a model when a suggestion or a particular shot or something in the dialog would lead to an idea, which might then lead to further conversation, which would then lead to scheduling another shoot specifically to explore the new idea.
While these examples bear little resemblance to the production meeting that many theatre people experience on a regular basis, they are still very valid forms of collaboration. Unfortunately, many artists deny such experiences, or do not recognize them as what they are: the sharing and embryonic development of creative ideas—creating through collaboration. If, however, we allow ourselves to recognize what is happening, we can then participate more fully in the process, expand our creative potential, and ultimately profit from it.