Don’t Collaborate

SF, 2014
SF, 2014

I am a huge fan of collaboration.

All the great advancements in humanity wouldn’t have come around if it weren’t for social collaboration.

However at the same time, there has been a lot of innovation that has happened from just one individual. Einstein came up with the theory of relativity by himself. Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Steve Jobs was the creative pioneer behind Apple.

When to collaborate, and when not to collaborate

Of course, we cannot learn without collaborating with others. We learn from others. We get ideas from others. We steal, remix, and process ideas from borrowing from others.

However when it comes for us to sit down, and for us to do real work — often you need to block out the world to get anything done.

In modern society, we love “meetings” and “committees.” But nothing earth-shattering ever happens in meetings or committees.

Too many cooks in the kitchen

The problem with collaboration is there are often too many cooks in the kitchen. Having a few cooks and chefs in the kitchen can help you make better dishes, quicker. But too many cooks means chaos in the kitchen, confusion, and nothing gets done.

The same thing happens with creative collaboration. A few collaborators are good. But too many collaborators and everyone having an opinion will slow down the creative process, and often nothing gets done or achieved.

It all depends on you

Sometimes we feel like we cannot achieve our creative greatness because we are lacking on support from others. We think we are limited by our lack of finances, our lack of time, our lack of creative collaborators, our lack of marketing skills, or our lack of clout or influence.

What if everything depended on you, and only you?

What if you could no longer make any excuses? What if by having less money — that helped you be more creative and resourceful? What if by not having any good way to promote yourself, you would be more focused on your creative work — and somehow you would eventually get “discovered”? What if stopped talking about our ideas, put our heads down, and just got to work?

Don’t be held back

One of the things I love most about blogging and writing is that I don’t need to depend or collaborate with anybody else to get work published. By owning my own blog, I have total creative control. I don’t have any gate-keepers preventing me from publishing or writing what I want to write.

Of course, I still “collaborate” — in the sense that I get feedback, ideas, thoughts, and suggestions from close friends and family. But I use collaboration as a way to come up with (some) of my ideas, but I don’t let collaboration get in the way of me actually creating and producing the work.

In your photography, you have total freedom to make the photos you want to make. You can collaborate by getting feedback on your photos, by joining a photography collective, or by doing a group exhibition. But know that at the end of the day, all of your photography only depends on yourself.

You have all the creative freedom in your photography and life. Don’t let any gatekeepers or anybody hold you back.