Week 3 of my MA course we are asked to provide an example from our own practice or to explain our understanding of the terms collaboration and participation.

Collaboration, cooperation, participation all usually have some purpose and usually a shared goal or interest, however, I think these terms are very overrated, as was the case with Sony’s attempt to compete with the iPod (STILLMAN, 2009). 

The internet is littered with collaboration failures and successes. I think we should be pragmatic about the whole thing. This study in this MA module while looking at strategies and methodologies of the way we approach our work, we never hear the word marketing or branding or web design, but this is what we are doing in addition to the creative thinking. When we talk about collaboration, the process is part of the marketing process and strategy.

For example, the success of the Portable LAB-BOX (Barnes, 2017) used a form of crowdsourcing using a kick starter fundraising website (ars-imago, 2017) to promote a groundbreaking product that can potentially change the way we view film photography.

It’s clear there are many issues with collaboration (Lavoy, 2016) if the management of that collaboration does not have a clear trust and agreement then it can result in frustrating distractions towards our intended goals. While we all need to work with other people and cooperate I do find being drawn into someone’s ideology about what it is we should be doing is quite often (but not always) a hindrance to my workflow.

I have recently taken part in a project with a local independent filmmaker here in Hong Kong. I participated and collaborated, during a small acting role for a commercial. The work I did was just a three-second acting role, which I did really as a favour. The spin-off from that was that I was asked to (if all goes to plan) take photographs of the filmmaking of the production team as they go about their work in different locations, so through collaboration, an opportunity arose, and also I get to do something that would be of interest to me.

I’m the Angry boss right at the beginning of the video commercial lol

Here is the link   https://www.facebook.com/egltours/videos/10154355243271644/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Having discussed my views with my peers and tutors, I received quite a few comments to further expand on the collaboration theme.

Comment from Peer 1

Good acting Paul 🙂 Thanks for sharing the link. On another note, I think you made a good point about collaboration having a marketing process to it. Even with the weekly assignment, we’re doing this week, I realise that it’s not just as simple as putting something up on the internet. I knew that–the internet is messy and overloaded with information, projects, ideas, etc.–but the reality kicked in when I didn’t wake up to people saying they’d participate in the project. The reality is that if you are not very good at marketing or don’t have a wide network of willing people, then it might be a bit harder to pull something off, especially in a short time. 

Comments from my Tutor 1

Very poignant aspects you raise Paul really enjoyed the Western Angry Boss portrayal! It is true that with the advent of the internet and so many possibilities opening up on a global scale and sometimes the boundaries are not clear, and indeed probably this is not the intention of crowdsourcing campaigns.

Do you see collaboration as something that could, like in your case, also happen as a side project, through offering your photography services, rather than fully signing up to someone’s plan?

Reply to comment to my Tutor 1

Thanks for your kind comments. The short answer is yes, but in my case, my cooperation was born out of my direct contact not via the internet. Crowd sourcing collaboration is not the only way to do something as a group, sometimes direct word of mouth can be very effective also.

I remember a video from the first module on our MA course about collaboration it went on for a very long time, the video was to show how collaboration worked, there were two people talking about there so called collaboration, but it struck me when they talked about what they were doing it seemed they were talking more about their own work and what they did individually, but very little about what they actually did as part of a partnership or if you like a team. There was never a sense of enjoyment in their tone of voice, it sounded more like they had just worked as separate people. So what I’m really saying is collaboration is not always what it seems to be. I only work with people I know and trust and I know will do something to contribute to the given goal.

I have had many different kinds of jobs before I became interested in photography, so for my project, it’s just another way to learn about photography not always about me making a living out of it, but If feel I can then fine I can do that, but it’s not the only thing. I think the crowdsourcing concept works on some levels, but I prefer a more targeted approach. We need to talk to a marketing expert maybe lol

Comment from Tutor 2

Good acting skills Paul! Well done on managing to participate in the filming of the commercial. You raise some interesting points on the pit falls of participation. Thinking in terms of your own project – how do you think you can use some of the ideas discussed by others members of this chat in your project about barber shops in Hong Kong?

Reply to my Tutor 2

Thanks for your comments, Do you mean crowdsourcing and advertising on face book? Well, obviously we all can raise awareness of our project if we need or want to. We could incorporate questionnaires or something like that.

The point about western peoples (who don’t live here) points of views of other cultures here in Hong Kong and China and people like my self who are embedded into this culture to a large degree, and does have an impact on the way I market my work and also the way I show my work locally. Locally barber shop photos on their own are not seen as anything special locally according to people I have shown locally, but a collection is more interesting as it better represents the cultural history and current status of barbershop professional practices. This all comes back to the target audience of our work, so in my case, there are four strands. 1. The general public ( locally or international) who may have never seen the inside of barber shops and all the quirky things that go on. 2.The Gallery Art world audience, which is perhaps just a way to show piece our work. 3. The hairdressing profession itself, who I know would be interested in viewing all of these places. And 4th is to satisfy the university learning outcomes on this course.

This is a lot to deal with, so for example, I decide to suddenly take photographs of saying tattoo parlours or hair salon supplies shops or something like that, would that still be acceptable to the course? And how does that affect the outcome of the other audiences?

I have read a little about Orientalism by Edward W. Said(1978, p76) he wrote” one aspect of the electronic, postmodern world is that there has been a reinforcement of stereotypes by which the Orient is viewed, Television, films and all the medias resources have forced information into more and more standardised molds”.

From what I know now being part of this culture in this part of the world for over 10 years this is still true, but equally, there are stereotype moulds of western views and culture also. So in terms of barbers shops and the like, there are evolving cultures around these themes. For example, it’s been fairly well documented in the West also there is a trend of men moving away from salons back to the traditional barber shops, It has been said on many occasions to me the barbers and clients here don’t like working or being  in salons with all the chemicals and sterile almost factory environment.

This is radically different to the slick visually, more masculine and visually interesting and more practical hair grooming environments. They also allow you to participate in a community and also often have some form of games or music or drinks to entertain. And barber shops are much much cheaper than unisex salons. Well


APA (6th ed.) Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books. Chicago (Author- Date, 15th ed.) Said, Edward W. 1978.p. 26


ars-imago, a. (2017). LAB-BOX – The first multi-format daylight-loading film tank. [online] Kickstarter. Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2017788873/lab-box-the-first-multi-format-daylight-loading-fi/description [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017].

Barnes, S. (2017). Portable ‘LAB BOX’ Lets You Develop Film at Home Without a Darkroom. [online] My Modern Met. Available at: http://mymodernmet.com/lab-box-film-photography/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017].

Lavoy, D. (2016). Why Collaboration Fails. [online] CMSWire.com. Available at: http://www.cmswire.com/social-business/why-collaboration-fails/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017].

STILLMAN, J. (2009). When Is Collaboration a Bad Idea?. [online] Cbsnews.com. Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/when-is-collaboration-a-bad-idea/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017].

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