[NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 200, 1/160, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 14)]

The difference between two parties who compromise or collaborate is huge. 

Compromising leads to disappointment with all parties.  When the parties come together they have a creative idea or solution for a problem.  Each party wants their idea out there more than the other one.  In this scenario a watered down version of both ideas emerge. In the end no one is satisfied with the solution.

[NIKON D3, AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D IF, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/200, ƒ/18, (35mm = 98)]

Collaboration isn’t about negotiating solutions.  It starts where the parties come together and listening to each other.  They are open to new ideas.  This is where everyone realizes that alone no one gets their ideas implemented, but by partnering with others they can accomplish their goals.

Rowing is a good illustration on how to collaborate.  It is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the United States.  

The Harvard-Yale Boat Race or Harvard-Yale Regatta is an annual rowing race between Yale and Harvard universities. It is America’s oldest collegiate athletic competition. It takes place each year on Thames River, New London, Connecticut.

In this sport the team must work together.  Each person has to stay in sync with his teammates.  For me it is the perfect picture of collaboration. 

If just one person is out of sync the team suffers.

When a client hires me they expect collaboration and not compromise.  Trust is the foundation of this process. You must first trust to your clients, lower your barriers and be exposed.

Listen.  Take notes while listening to the client.  Note taking prevents you from responding to quickly with your ideas.  Active listening means you ask questions to clarify and be sure you have their perspective.  You may want to paraphrase their idea and ask if you have it right.

The key is understanding what they want to accomplish.  You need to also listen and learn where they have very little room for flexibility.  When the client feels like you know what they want and the parameters they are under you have the necessary information to be able to collaborate. 

Meeting and exceeding the client’s expectations is easy, if you listen and check with the client to be sure you understand their project. 

Many clients will have done an excellent job articulating their project from the very beginning.  You still need to explore with them to understand how much flexibility they have.  You still need to articulate their project in your own words. Skip this step and you will experience friction with the client.

All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.  True friends collaborate rather than compromise.

My friend Tony Messano talks about what he looks for when he hires a photographer in this video clip.  Here is his website