Colors Collective really started as a creative side project while I (Alexis) was working at a lighting design company. I was feeling creatively unfulfilled and wanted to create an outlet for myself. The intention wasn’t to make money or create a business in the beginning. I didn’t know anything about product photography, but as an industrial designer, I knew that one of the most important aspects of selling a product was through photography. I decided to focus on creating an image every day and kept myself accountable by posting it to Instagram. I kept this up for quite some time and taught myself everything I needed to know little by little. Max came from a design background as well and worked in the photo industry in NYC. When we met, we began working on projects together and he joined Colors Collective as a partner.
" We also have a number of pieces on hand that we have purchased from Moodelier! These are great because all we need to do is paint them and they are good to go! "
How has your background in industrial design helped with your creative process?
Our industrial design background has been very useful when it comes to product photography. Because we come from the perspective of a designer, we understand what needs to be communicated when we are tasked with telling the story of a product through a photo or stop motion video. We also use our industrial design skills to design and build custom props and sets which has been invaluable to our business.
You’ve worked with some pretty prolific and exciting brands! How did you find and book your first-ever clients? Did you reach out first, or did they find you organically?
Our first ever clients found the @colorscollective instagram account and reached out! We have been extremely lucky in that all of the brands we have worked with have organically found us through social media or word of mouth. We are not your typical “sales” people, and outreach is difficult for us. One of our goals for 2022 is to get better with outreach because it’s definitely a really important and necessary skill. I would say that what helped most with attracting clients initially (and still today) is consistently sharing our work.
When we think of your photography, our minds immediately gravitate towards your super fun, whimsical and colorful props and pieces. What does your set-building process look like? Do you create your own props and pieces by hand, or do you partner with a local business?
Our set-building process is pretty well planned out for each shoot. After we decide what we want to build, and create our concept sketches, we typically build all aspects of our sets from scratch. Max is a highly skilled woodworker and he makes many of our colorful shapes right in our studio. Occasionally if we need a very precise design cut, we have our friends at Third Kind Studio cut material with their CNC machine. We also have a number of pieces on hand that we have purchased from Moodelier! These are great because all we need to do is paint them and they are good to go!
What piece of advice would you give to other creatives who are just starting to dabble in product photography?
We would encourage other creatives who are new to the field to practice and put your work out there as much as possible! I (Alexis) spent a long time posting images to Instagram of my personal work before any clients came along. We also consistently find that the photos with the best engagement on social media are our personal projects. Practicing every day will also help you find your style and you will learn so much by experimenting.
" Every partnership is unique and what works for some might not work for others, so we would probably say that communication is key, as well as finding a process that works for you and your partner and being consistent with it. "
What are three must-have set styling tools or resources you can’t live without?
This is a tough one because we have so many styling tools that we feel this way about! If we had to pick three, I think we would go with: Dental Wax, A-clamps, and Glycerin. Dental wax (used normally for braces) is super helpful for sticking anything down or to another object, regardless of the set or objects being wet or dry. A-clamps are strong clamps that help with temporarily attaching parts of sets, draping fabric, and holding together just about anything. We work with a lot of beverage brands and are constantly tasked with making bottles, glasses and cans look delicious. We create a Glycerin and water mixture which we use to spray on the sides of cans and bottles to create the perfect water droplets. We also use glycerin to rehydrate fruit and many other foods.
You two seem to masterfully partner with one another in everything you do. How do you two split up your specific tasks and responsibilities?
I (Alexis) typically do more of the communication work throughout each project. This includes scheduling projects, negotiating pricing, and any back and forth with the client about concepts, edits, final invoicing, etc. As far as creative goes we come up with all ideas and create concept sketches together. Once we have concepts approved, Max typically focuses on custom building our sets. We then style, photograph and edit everything together. It's a pretty collaborative process, and a large amount of it is done side by side. We also currently have 2 wonderful part time employees who help us with all aspects of the business.
What advice would you give other creative duos to help strengthen their work and partnership?
At the end of the day, every partnership is unique and what works for some might not work for others, so we would probably say that communication is key, as well as finding a process that works for you and your partner and being consistent with it. Also, find someone that you love spending time with, because you’re going to spend a lot of time together!
And last (but certainly not least), what exciting projects or updates do you have in store for 2022?
For us, 2022 is about growth, we have just expanded and built out a new studio space as well as hired two new employees. We are looking forward to more efficient productivity as well as learning and challenging ourselves with new opportunities that push us outside our comfort zone. We are also very excited to be taking a step into the world of education by releasing our first ever course in partnership with Moodelier!
All visuals are credits to Colors Collective.
You can check more of their work @colorcollective