The Perfect Sunrise

by NULLZ

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It strikes me that all the photographers I have heard of are one-man bands. I don't know of any famous partnerships or teams in photography.

Other areas of human endeavour have plenty of partnerships, from Lewis and Clark to Morecambe and Wise, but I don't know of any like this in photography.

Is this just my perception? Are there famous photographic partnerships? If not, what is it about photography that encourages this solitary behaviour?

I realise that many photographers have a team supporting them, but that's not quite the same thing. Or is it? Let me know.

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Would you say this is different from other visual arts? –  mattdm May 6 '11 at 11:46
    
@mattdm. good point. probably the same. –  AJ Finch May 6 '11 at 12:28
    
Same as any art, not just visual. How many symphonies are composed by more than one person, how many films directed, books written, etc etc. –  Poldie Apr 14 '13 at 21:23
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6 Answers

David Hobby and Joe McNally are doing Flash Bus tour together. They sound pretty famous to me. But the partnership is about educating, not about making photos together.

It's fairly hard to find ways how two persons could complement each other's ideas as equal partners. Success in photography is, after all, mostly driven by having a unique vision and established style, while mutual agreements would require a common vision.

Even if two people go on assignments or trips together, it does not show in each other's photos, so the partnership between them does not get much attention.

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While we are not famous, I'll chime in on this :)

I've been working with a photographer/videographer for three years now. In the beginning I started out as 'the computer guy'. At this point I handle alot of the editing and enhancements/effects/etc..

Over the years we've developed a pretty close business relationship, way past being just part of the rest of the team. He does go solo on a fair number of projects but we partner up on the projects I'm part of. Now I realize I do very little of the actual photography, however, there is a large difference in what we can shoot and offer to folks now, on both sides.

I do notice that most photographers I've met are solo acts. I somewhat have thought this is due to how many people get involved in the industry: just themselves, a camera and a dream.

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I hope that fame is not slow in arriving for you! Thanks for the personal insight. –  AJ Finch May 9 '11 at 9:41
    
Most welcome :) Thanks lol –  Garet Claborn May 10 '11 at 6:41
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Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee would be a good example of a great partnership. Under the Cloth by John McPhee (Laura's father) has a good description of their technique. It involves a lot of time together behind the ground glass of a large view camera. Also check out their book No Ordinary Land.

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Thanks, @MPG. I knew there had to be examples somewhere. great links. –  AJ Finch May 9 '11 at 9:42
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Photographers may often work alone, but in ain't necessarily so. As Matt Grum points out in his answer photographers often work together for commercial reasons. However, the great art-historic photographic collaborations that come to my mind do not necessarily involve another photographer!

For example, think of the now famous Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a collaboration between photographer Walker Evans and writer James Agee that documented hard times among sharecroppers in rural USA in the 1930s.

In the same era and location, Dorothea Lange collaborated with economist Paul Taylor to document poverty among sharecroppers. She took photographs, and he collected interviews and statistics.

Dorothea Lange, 1940. Young migratory mother in Edison, Kern County, California, originally from Texas. On the day before the photograph was made, she and her husband traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas. They worked 5 hours each and together earned $2.25. They have two young children... Live in auto camp.

Young migratory mother. Dorothea Lange, 1940.

Another, perhaps a more artist collaboration took place between photographer and painter Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dalí. The most famous result of their collaboration is perhaps Dali Atomicus:

enter image description here

Dali Atomicus. Philippe Halsman, 1948.

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Lots of successful photographers have teams as you suggest, it is truly a collaboration in a lot of cases it's just branded as an individual for market purposes. Chase Jarvis for example represents a crew including assistants and retouchers, all under the guidance of Chase. Clients don't really care about the personnel, they just was to ask for the "Chase Jarvis look".

Usually the assistants operate a second camera and sometimes the big name that was hired won't even shoot any images. Gregory Crewdson is a good example, he doesn't operate a camera himself, he just directs but claims images as "his" as everything was done according to his artistic vision.

In wedding Photography it is common to see teams (usually pairs) of photographers working in order to cover every angle.

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+1 The weddings are a good example indeed. Depending on the budget, there can certainly be multiple photogs on the floor, all with equal importance. –  ysap May 6 '11 at 19:48
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My impression is that photographers tend to differ on what they want to photograph, and what they think makes a good photograph. If you're on safari or touring round a foreign city (travel photography) then two people will want to photograph different things, this makes it quite difficult for both people to be happy, it's simpler for the individual photographers to work on their own. If you're out with a friend or partner its possible to compromise, but I imagine as a professional photographer this is something you wouldn't want to do.

Obviously some areas of photography such as wedding and sports mean both photographers are geographically constrained. This allows photographers to work together, one covering close ups and another covering the more wide shots for example.

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Studio photography is another area where you frequently see photographers working together, usually one photographer is in charge creatively and decides the lighting etc. so there are no disagreements or inconsistency in the shots. –  Matt Grum May 6 '11 at 13:07
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