Collaboration versus Working?

I’ve seen this come up before in discussions. What’s the difference between Collaborating and simply working together or for someone? some people feel collaborating means that both people have equal rights to the final product. Others think it means both parties get to call the shots on what happens on a shoot. Some photographers don’t like this because it takes away creative control and/or gives a model sense of entitlement. Some models don’t like the term collaborate because they think it means they are being paid for their modeling services.
My view of collaboration gives proper credit to both parties for their participation. I can not create whatever it is I am creating the model’s help… it’s me acknowledging the value they bring to my project. Whether I am paying or they are paying me to bring their vision to life…if we are providing anything of value to the project it is a collaboration. so for me, Collaboration should be used always or else there no value in the project.
I love to collaborate.. when I work on a project, even when its entirely my idea and I have the final say in how things look and turn out, I still value input from the model. I still want them to bring their uniqueness, talent, personality and style to it otherwise there’s no point in choosing different models. I may have a particular fashion look that I go for in all my work but always try to work that into whatever the model’s natural style and sensibility.
As far as who has rights.. Well, that depends on the project and what terms are set. The law is clear in the U.S> the photographer always owns the copyright to final image regardless of who’s idea it was and whether or not it was a paid or trade shoot. Photographers are able to give up some or all of this right if they so choose; according to the terms set by the photographer. (note that A model by default is considered work for hire, whereas photographers, artists, and musicians are NOT unless a signed contract specifically states it. the collaborative work must also meet certain requirements that i won’t go into here. work-for-hire means that even though you provided artistic services your contribution is to the final product, your work does not belong to you. it instead belongs producer/company or client that contracted you. you see this type of thing come up in films, and books, and comics where writers and artists, composers, and other talented folks provide artistic services…without a contract these artists are not working for hire and these final works sometimes don’t see the light of day due to copyright issues. Models, however, since they cannot copyright their likeness or performance do not fall under this. so any copyrights must be signed over from the photographer or client.
So who calls the shots? Either, both, or none again depending on the terms.
If it’s for a Client. they call the shots.
If its TFP ..both photog or model may call the shots, for example, if the photographer agrees to shoot specific things for the model while the model does specific shots for the photog. Other times a model or photog my agree to the concept and shots of the others because it benefits their portfolio.
Any TFP shoot should be negotiated before the shoot takes place. But, typically in my experience, the model is more than willing to let me the artist call all if not most of the shots because they trust my vision, and talent to produce work that they’re happy with. I’m also more than willing to let models tell me what they want out of the shoot to make it more worth their while. and sometimes I am surprised and inspired more by the input received and we get better shots than if this didn’t happen. This is why I call it collaboration.
I do not go into any photo shoot or project without being personally invested in it. So, if I don’t feel that I will get enough out of a project to make it worth my time, then don’t do it. I encourage all my models to take the same approach to all of their shoots. paid, TFP or otherwise.

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