The Collectives: 5 Talented Photography Ensembles

by Jack Crager

March 06, 2014

Like musicians in a band, photographers often work well in an ensemble. A collective agency can provide partners in creativity, business and style. Here are five that have successfully merged their talents.

Readyluck

Brooklyn, NY, and Baltimore, MD

Officially formed in 201, each of Readyluck’s core three photographers had been documenting weddings (as well as commercial and art projects) for several years. “We are excited to be adding a fourth photographer to the collective in early 2014, as well as a videographer,” says Sarah Tiedeman Gallagher, who runs the administrative side of the firm as studio manager.

It was a growing demand for business that brought together Readyluck’s founders: photographers Shane Carpenter, Jacqueline Schlossman and Lindsay Hite (named one of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography 2013). “One of the greatest benefits we share as members of the collective is flexible scheduling and availability,” Tiedeman says. “For example, when a potential client inquires for Shane on a date when he’s unavailable, the client might find Lindsay or Jacqueline’s work appealing since we share a collective style, approach, and esthetic amongst all of us.”


© Lindsay Hite/Readyluck

Though based in Brooklyn and Baltimore, Readyluck photographers travel to destinations far and wide. “We’re often documenting weddings in places ranging from the Queens County Farm Museum to the Angel Orensanz Center in Manhattan to beachside nuptials on Saint Lucia and Ireland,” Tiedeman notes. “We custom-quote for every wedding and event, so this flexibility allows us to work with a diverse, creative clientele.”

Shane Carpenter, who was trained as a photojournalist and art photographer, points out logistic and artistic advantages of setting up a group practice. “Together, we share resources amongst us—studio, studio manager, post-production and design, and mutual inspiration,” he says. “Plus the added benefits of portfolio reviews and constructive feedback. We each have a unique set of attributes that complements the collective as a whole, creating a truly synergistic relationship.”

The Wedding Artists Collective

New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA

Founded in New York City in 2010 by manager Lisa Ashley, The Wedding Artists Collective includes five photographers based on both coasts. Ashley, who now resides in Venice, CA, says she started the collective to help guide the business affairs of her photographer friends. “I think most photographers would agree that shooting is their real passion, not handling the day-to-day office stuff,” she says. “They’re busy traveling and running around all the time, so having someone to steer the ship is a huge help to them.”


©Josh Goleman/The Wedding Artists Collective

Ashley adds that the shooters she’s curated and brought together share a common aesthetic. “They all respect each other and there is a real feeling of camaraderie, safety, and support,” she says. “Everyone feels their brand is in safe hands.”

Our Labor of Love

Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA

Our Labor of Love was created by husband-wife team Whitney and Jesse Chamberlin in 2004, after their blog attracted a red-hot wedding-photo business in Atlanta. The collective now has eight photographers based in three major cities, including L.A. where the founders have since relocated.

Built on the photographic and design skills of Jesse, plus the event-production background of Whitney, the firm quickly set itself apart with a colorful, lively visual style that often draws an alternative clientele. “We were two people on the other side of the fence, designing stuff and getting recognized, before we did weddings,” says Whitney. “It was kind of like the cool kids came over to band camp and turned it into a scene.”


© Jesse Chamberlin/Our Labor of Love

Wife Jesse adds that the collective also runs a “Smilebooth” gallery and a “Lovebug” kids’ portrait practice. “We shoot a lot of events that are outside the box—whether gay and lesbian weddings, vegan straight edge culture with people in tattoos, or urban art-gallery type things,” she says. “We like to show people who do things their own way. And have fun while we’re doing it!”

The Wedding Collective

Brisbane, Australia

For Australian photographer Stewart Ross, The Wedding Collective is a collaboration with wedding professionals of various stripes. “We have one of each vendor, within the wedding industry in Brisbane,” he explains. Joining forces three years ago, the firm’s 11 other partners include specialized creative directors, an interior designer, a videographer, a tailor, a floristry designer and more.

“There is only one photographer, being myself,” says Ross, who shoots documentary style imagery. “We are a group of like-minded professionals who decided upon a unique way of collaboration. We find it a beneficial way for each of our individual businesses to stand out from the crowd.”


© Stewart Ross Photography/The Wedding Collective

Among the events hosted by the collective are an annual gala showcase of work and trends and periodic “Wedding School” nights where, Ross adds, “we meet and help educate our prospective brides- and grooms-to-be on planning the perfect wedding.”

George Street Photo & Video

Chicago, IL

Named after the legendary street in its home base of Chicago, George Street Photo & Video was founded by Dan Creviston, Michael McMahon, and Tim Muller in 2004. The firm’s client base—and its stable of more than 100 photographers and videographers—is spread out across the U.S.

“Every day, hundreds of beautiful weddings grace our screens making our jobs that much harder,” says Creviston who is also vice president of sales. “Everyone on our team has their personal favorites, so there’s always some friendly competition when choosing what we use in our advertisements and across our social media platforms.”


© George Street Photo & Video

While the nationwide talent pool is diverse, the operations and marching orders emanate from headquarters. “Not only do we assign their weddings and handle all the logistics, we work to ensure all our talent feels creative, excited and appreciated for all they do,” says Jennifer Schwendener, director of the George Street assignment desk.

Among the tasks handled by the central office are client relations. “Our team spends hours, days, weeks and months talking to our couples,” says Jeffrey Couto, director of client services, “so our photographers can focus on what they know best—shooting weddings!”

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