In Oregon´s state capital of Salem, photographer Lynn Howlett´s sole proprietor photography studio had steadily grown through seventeen years of hard work. Like nearly every photographer, he kept the doors open with studio work and photographing weddings while he focused his creativity on product work. He found he had a talent to turn everyday products into works of art. So when he came across the bugs in the artwork of Chris Marley´s Form and Pheromone, he had a partnership opportunity. And yes, I said bugs.
Now, the interesting thing is that Chris Marley is a childhood friend, but I haven´t spoken to him for over twenty years (and no, we never dated). I just happened to see his artwork in galleries, and the pieces go for about $1,500 and beyond. According to Home Accents the former model had a childhood fear of bugs and somehow this metamorphosed into unique art specimens that he places in beautiful boxes. He told writer Tracy Bulla that his interest led him to journey all over the world, collecting bugs and hand-crafting framed specimens because "people like to have a conversation piece."
To Calendars and Beyond: the Power of a Partnership
That is exactly what Lynn thought, so he "kept bugging Chris" (no pun intended) about doing some serious photography with the bugs as the models, until Chris realized he was serious and wasn´t going away. This evolved into a vendor relationship wherein Lynn provided the photography for 2006, 2007 and 2008 calendars for Pomegranate Publishing out of San Francisco. Now this successful vendor relationship is evolving into a partnership as the team prepares to create a book and other interesting venues for the images.
What makes this partnership work is that both individuals are sole proprietors and artists who have the ability to combine their unique talents and produce a lot of magic together. The partnership will have several advantages:
1) combined talent equals a higher value for the end product
2) the ease for an agent or representative to negotiate the highest value, without having to negotiated for each artist individually
3) ability to plan for long term projects of all types using the product
4) ease of revenue sharing (and overall accounting)
5) ability for the Lynn (the photographer) to participate in the revenue since he graduates from vendor status to partner
If you are a photographer, here is Lynn´s advice for looking at potential partners:
1) Look for products you believe in
2) Identify unique products, or a unique angle on a basic product
3) Search out artists like Chris who have a niche that is known to a relatively small, affluent group, not the masses
4) Don´t give up-keep pursuing the objective of your partnership
Since this partnership is on-going, I’ll be checking in with Lynn every few months and report the progress.