5 questions to answer before building your team 

 September 25, 2015

By  Pascal Depuhl

There are hundreds of posts written on the importance of personal work, testing out new techniques and developing new concepts. Stepping out of your comfort zone is probably the most important part of becoming a better photographer, filmmaker or creative person. This week I know that my fellow ASMP photographers will be writing posts, that are brimming with wisdom about the ins and outs of how to set up tests, who owns the rights to the images, what you do if someone doesn’t deliver what they’ve promised, ect.

However before you can do any of that, you need to find people to team up with, you’ll need a few good men (and women). As an aside, if you’re thinking about getting into motion, you’re gonna have to learn to collaborate anyway – even though photographers can go at many assignments solo, it is much more difficult to make even a short film alone. Here’s how to build your team:

Who to look for:

Look for people, who love what they’re doing and who love what you’re doing. Those that want to be part of your team, because they believe in your project or are curious to work out the kinks of a new technique. Work with people who are better than you–much better.

I was editing ‘On Wings of Hope’ a few years ago and showed a sound engineer and composer friend of mine some of the raw footage: “I want to be a part of this project” he tells me, because he believed in the purpose of the movie. He’s the guy that ended up writing the soundtrack for the film [Full disclosure I did pay him for 3 years of exclusive rights to the music, but I paid him a lot less than he would charge on a commercial project.]

Where to look for collaborators:

You know the best place I find people who want to learn new things and improve their skill set? At workshops, seminars and classes. I’ve produced some masterclasses with others, such as Phillip Bloom, Nino Leitner, Sebastian Weingärtner, … I’ve volunteered at seminars with Vincent Laforet, Shane Hurlbut, … I’ve taught workshops on photography, branding, video, ect. on my own.

It doesn’t matter where the location is, who the audience is or how much money they’ve spent; I always find a handful of people who love to do more and have worked with countless participants on tests, personal work or regular gigs.

Another great place to find team members is on set, people you work with on your pursuits, their productions, other people projects. Always work with the best people you can afford on your commercial shoots, who know’s maybe they’ll help you on your next idea.

What to look for in team members:

Be on the look out for people who share [nextpage title=”read more”]

your passion. Look for those who are hungry, the ones that are really getting into what they’re learning. Those are the ones you want to cooperate with. Find the ones that are excited about what you’re doing and look for opportunities that they’re working on that excite you, cooperation is a two-way street.

Look for people that you like. Much of personal work, pro bono projects and concept shoots is a labor of love, so you want team members around you whom you like and trust.

How to honor your team:

Honor your team where you can. Share. If there’s money your making on the test, project or job, share it with your team. If its pro bono (like much personal work is) share the credit. There’s a myriad of ways to honor your co-creators. Enter the projects in awards competitions and share the recognition, when it wins.

Every time one of my projects wins an award, I make sure that I credit my team by including their name in the award listing. Check out the IMDb page for that film – you’ll find my collaborators honored there.

We had an awesome worldwide première for this short documentary. Guess who was the guest of honor at that event? Yup – my composer and his family.

Why you should pay your team

Once you find team players, who work well with you, you should hire them for work that’s not just a test or an unpaid pro-bono gig. These people are as passionate as you, as curious as the cat, as experienced as you can get and more valuable than gold. Why not work with them? Check out “How to build a rock star team” to learn how the Beatles where Steve Job’s model on building successful teams at Apple. Have fun finding like-minded men and women, who share your passions.

They’re a blast to work with.

(This post first is for and published on the American Society of Media Photographer’s strictly business blog.)

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Pascal Depuhl

Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.