The Key to On-time & Under Budget Projects: Collaboration

You have a powerful idea for a photography project, but not all the funds you need to make it happen. Sound familiar?  Developing a long-term creative project requires a combination of dedication, time, and funding. Without all three, finding a way to fund these projects can feel impossible, especially in a market where editorial assignments are in decline.

To cut through the noise, we talked with our extremely knowledgeable friends at Blue Earth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that has offered resources and support to photographers and filmmakers in order to fulfill projects that positively impact the world for the past 21 years.

Established by two photographers Natalie Fobes and Phil Borges Blue Earth Alliance takes a novel approach to solving this funding issue.  Blue Earth offers content creators its non-profit fiscal sponsorship for fundraising, grant-writing consultation, marketing and PR expertise for documentary projects involving critical environmental and social issues. 

“We talked about the expense of exhibits; our vain attempts at finding sponsors. And we complained about how frustrating it was to be turned down for funding by corporations, foundations, and individuals.” recalls Natalie.

Expanding their mission, Blue Earth Alliance began their annual Collaborations for Cause (C4C) visual storytelling event, which brings together socially conscious businesses, nonprofits, educators, public agencies and content creators for two days of inspiration, exploration, and partnership building.

Below are a few main points that outline how events like C4C – and its promotion of collaboration as an often overlooked tool – can really get projects off the ground.  

Collaborations are an endless inspirational source

While it may be true that working in groups isn’t ideal for some scenarios (think about how upset you were as a student who was just assigned a group project) – when it comes to the creative process, group work, and collaboration is a crucial part of the path to success.

“My inspiration comes from connecting as a human being with the rest of the world” – Frans Lanting during his CreativeLive class The Art of Seeing.

If you think about the human experience, we all come to the table with a surplus of ideas that can influence your work.  Success doesn’t always equal defeat of one idea over another – moreover, success is actually the result of an idea that has evolved over time with cooperation and collective action.

Collaboration Let’s You Stick To Your Strengths

Working with other creatives offers up an incredible opportunity to allow people to contribute their best work, making the choice of quality over quantity obsolete.    

There’s a huge relief in accepting the fact that one person cannot have all the answers.  

Letting go of something and allowing it to take a different direction is always going to be tough, it’s important to realize that this is the only way to allow a project to become the best of the best as it really is a sum of everyone’s best parts.

Banner image to Art Wolfe's class on CreativeLive

Mutual Goals and Aligned Intentions – Fund!

With 20+ years under their belt, Blue Earth has supported over 130 photographers and filmmakers to elevate important projects on critical environmental and social issues that have been featured in magazines, museums and TED talks, on billboards, in books and the halls of Congress. However, making long-term documentary projects happen is increasingly difficult, from raising funds to finding mentors and navigating the shifting media landscape, and many photographers need help.

While the creative benefits of collaboration are somewhat clear – it’s interesting to note that the very act of fundraising itself is collaboration. Think about it; funders need photographers and filmmakers to do their work. Adding to that, it’s important to remember that many organizations aren’t structured to carry out a campaign – they are organized to give money away. That’s where organizations like Blue Earth Alliance step in, to help photographers and filmmakers connect with groups looking to donate funds to a cause that meets their particular mission.


Mel Jackson FOLLOW >

Community Marketer at CreativeLive and lover of design, coffee breaks and petting of ALL THE DOGS. Follow her adventures on Instagram @LifeofMelJack.