Miki Johnson & Anna Shelton Collaboration – Intro


Photograph ©Anna Shelton

Issue Four contains a three part collaboration between Miki and Anna. In order to give readers a better idea about the genesis of the collaboration, Miki wrote this introduction. The completed features can be viewed in Issue 4 and will be published on the web later in the week. Included will be some thoughts from Anna and Miki about the collaborative process.

Text by Miki Johnson

First, let me say that I was looking for an excuse to work with Bryan. LPV is great, and largely because Bryan is one of the smartest people in the photo blogosphere. His posts routinely provoke a “yes, exactly” from me, right before I forward them to everyone I know.

Second, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the idea of collaboration for a few years now. I see how important it is, but I also see that many people don’t know how to do it well. Yet it’s a skill set that becomes more important every year, especially for self-employed creatives like photographers, which is why I’m creating a collaboration network, Dovetail.

So when Bryan told me he was interested in fostering more collaboration in LPV Magazine, my brain immediately started whirring. I’m particularly interested in getting creatives to look outside their own community for collaborators (photographers, find a painter or writer to work with, not another photographer!), and he’d been thinking about some kind of photographer-writer pair, so we came up with this: A photographer would give a small selection of images to a writer, the writer would create part of a story based on them and give it back to the photographer, who would make more photos based on the story, and on and on.

It’s not a complicated idea, and this is not the first time it’s been done, but it sounded exciting and doable to both of us. I usually am the facilitator for things like this, but I thought for the first run, while we were working out the details, it was only fair for me myself to be the guinea pig (writer). Bryan helped connect me with Anna Shelton, whose work I felt an affinity for. Never underestimate the importance of a skilled connector: Anna and I immediately hit it off the first time we talked, over Skype (she’s in Portland, I’m was in San Francisco).

A few things we discussed:

  • 1) Our individual goals for the project and what we hoped to get out of it.
  • 2) Anna would have the option to make new images or create new edits from past work.
  • 3) We would ask for an overall deadline for the project, but not be strict about how long it took for us to get back to each other.
  • 4) We would write about the process of collaboration while we were doing it.

And with that, we decided that Anna would email me a small edit of images she thought would work as a prompt for a story.

From Anna

Hi Miki,

Here is a set I threw together, just for you to get an idea. It’s hard to be objective sometimes when I look at my own stuff, so if you see others that resonate more with the theme or even some other theme that sounds more appealing, by all means let’s go for it. I picked these images because they all have a surreal quality. I was playing with the notion of an alternate reality that one steps into, maybe through the eyes of a child. I like that both photos of the children are blurry, too.

NEXT: Story #1