When you’re working with someone in a visually creative sense, and you’re trying to communicate to them your visual ideas and concepts – whether it be a photo shoot, a video, graphic design, web design, and so forth – one thing I’ve been doing for several years now, is to create a Pinterest secret board, and share it with the person you’re going to be working on the project with. It’s been a great reference point, and has resulted in several successful creative projects for me, so I thought I’d share my process with all the IFB readers.
Here’s how you can go about using Pinterest for Creative Collaborations:
Step 1. Create a secret board on Pinterest
Name the board after your project. For example, if I’m doing a photo shoot for my music in January 2016, I’ll call it ‘Music Shoot Jan 2016.'
Step 2. Start pinning
Pin images of ideas, looks, places, people, outfits, locations, anything that’s inspiring you as far as how you’d like things to look visually.
Example: If I'm wanting to create a look featuring vintage dresses, an abandoned building, and interesting poses, I'm going to be looking for these things in the photos I'll be pinning to the board.
Here are a few of the types of images I might choose:
Step 3. Take advantage of your pin descriptions
In the description for each pin, delete what’s there and replace with a bit of info of what you like about the image, and if there’s something in it you might like to use as inspiration for your own work (note: if there are artist credits on the pin’s description, leave these in brackets – the person you’re working with might enjoy seeing more of the other artist’s work, especially if they’re a strong source of inspiration for you).
Example: In a shot with beautiful, moody lighting, I might comment “I love the amount of light in this shot, it's really beautiful and has a wonderful ethereal feel to it”, or, for an image with graffiti in the background, if I know of a similar location, I'll mention this in my comment about the image. Descriptions like this are great, as they give the photographer some direction as well, so they know ahead of time what equipment to bring to the shoot, as well as possible locations where it might take place.
In my scenario with the music shoot, the photographer took my ideas about abandoned buildings, and found a contact who ran an old convent with several abandoned and dilapidated rooms, it turned out to be the ideal place for our shoot!
Tip: Once you're set on a look and feel for the shoot, try and stick to it! It's not unusual to get a bit of ‘shiny object syndrome' when you see another amazing shoot in a completely different style, but keep it in mind for another shoot later on down the track. Changing things up at the last minute after everyone has agreed on what's happening, can create havoc for the others involved in your shoot, such as fashion stylists, makeup artists, hairstylists, and photographers. Being organised, committed to the agreed upon aesthetics and location, being helpful, and focused, will give people reason to want to want to work with you again (and recommend you to others!).
Step 4. Invite the person you’re going to be working with to the secret board
If they’re not on Pinterest, you can invite them by email. Follow up by sending a message to them (text, email, FB messenger, carrier pigeon), explaining that you’ve created a Pinterest board for your project to help you both get on the same page creatively (feel free to use your own lingo here), but keep the message brief and include a link to the secret board.
Example of an invite: I often work on my own photo shoots with my friend Kylie, a professional photographer. When I have an idea that I'd like to work on with her, my email will often go something like this:
“Hey Kylie, hope you're well!
I'm planning for a new photo shoot, and would love to work with you on this if you're free! Looking at mid-September in terms of timeframe – please let me know what your availability is like for that month.
I've put together a Pinterest board with some ideas aesthetics-wise, here's the link if you'd like to check it out: https://au.pinterest.com/beehivebespoke/music-shoot-jan-2016/
Let me know if you're interested!
Note: My tone is quite casual in this email, because we already know each other. If I didn't know Kylie, and I was approaching her as a client, my first email would be much more formal, for example:
My name is Genevieve, and I'm a musician, designer, and stylist based in Melbourne. I found your work via your Facebook page, and was wondering if you might be interested in working with me.
I'm planning a personal shoot to update the photos for my website, and am looking at mid-September in terms of possible shooting dates.
I've compiled a secret Pinterest board with images of the aesthetic I'm going for. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: https://au.pinterest.com/beehivebespoke/music-shoot-jan-2016/
If you're interested, please let me know!
Why does this format work?
I'd like to take a brief moment here to break down the above email, and why it works. This kind of intro email achieves several things:
- It makes an introduction that tells her who I am and what I do (good for future collabs!)
- It tells Kylie where I found her work, which highlights to her that Facebook is working for her as a promotional tool for her business
- It tells her what I'm planning to use the shots for
- It gives her a timeframe for when I'm looking to shoot
- It provides her with a reference point (the link to the Pinterest board), where she can see what I've pinned, and decide if she wants to work with me
Step 5. Suggest that your partner also collaborate and contribute
Make mention in the message that you’d like for them to pin to the board as well – what we’re essentially trying to create by asking them to pin as well, is a visual dialogue between the both of you, where you throw ideas back and forth until you’re both on the same page.
In my scenario with Kylie, the secret Pinterest board became a collaborative effort, with us both pinning and commenting on what we liked about the images we'd found.
It meant that when we got to the shoot day, we knew exactly the type of shots we were going for, we'd organised permission for shooting at our location, we knew what time of day we needed to be there to get the right light, she brought the equipment, I brought the outfits, I did my own makeup and hair, and we were able to shoot several looks quickly in only a few hours.
Here are some shots we put together from the shoot: