Arizona is a HOT bed of creative talent! Last year Shane Baker founded the Arizona Creative Professionals and quickly became of the best resources for local models, photographers, makeup artists, stylists and designers who love the fashion world!
Learn more about his story, directly from the photographer himself, below.
Like most artists, when I first started I had so many questions. How can I get better? Who could I learn from? What local groups could I join? I was looking for a dynamic support system and so I joined every Facebook group I could find for local photographers and models.
As a photographer I was looking for mentors, tips and tricks. I was looking for talent to collaborate with. I wanted an energetic group of artists to connect with while I explored the world of fashion photography
Instead, what I found were groups filled with drama, no standards, and no real direction. So in 2015 I sat down and wrote out a description for my ideal group and what it would look like. What would we do? Who would it include? The Arizona Creative Professionals was born.
Fast forward to 2016, and it’s been incredible to see so many talented artists come together and rally around a purpose and a cause.
We decided early on that we needed to build a strong Culture. We’ve done that by following a few basic guidelines.
1. We chose to create a vouching process before someone could join.
Because we didn’t want a group filled with GWC’s (guys with camera’s, flakey artists and drama). Here’s how it works. Each week we post 20-30 names of people who want to join our group and everyone is allowed to anonymously vote yes or no on each name.
Here’s the best part… you can only vote yes for someone if you’ve actually worked with them on a shoot. Knowing someone isn’t enough. Once you’ve been “vouched for” we verify that you have an active, online portfolio that highlights your work as an artist. If you don’t have one we keep you on a waiting list until you create one.
The results? We have a highly dynamic group of artists who are passionate about what they do! We’ve minimized the drama and instead, our page is filled with helpful comments, tips and encouragement from everyone!
2. We view each other as collaborators and not competition, even if you do similar things.
One of the best ways I’ve been able to grow my business is by referrals from other photographers! I don’t shoot everything and I don’t want too. And because of the ACP, I now have a network or artist who I’ve seen in action, that I can actively refer business too. And it’s not just me. It’s our culture. Our group regularly posts referrals for others. It’s one of the best things about being a part of this group.
3. We host at least two group shoots a month!
I was so disappointed with every group shoot I went on before creating the ACP. Typically you show up, there are 20 older photographers, a handful of young models and at the end of it you didn’t walk away with a great shot because everyone is trying to shoot over one another’s shoulders. That’s how most groups I saw were being ran.
So we decided to do things differently.
As a photographer I wanted to know who the best makeup artists were, who the top hairstylists were. So we designed our events to help us connect and really create stunning images! How? You can’t simply show up at one of our events. You’re encouraged to create a team beforehand. A team consists of a photographer, a model, a makeup artist, a stylist and designer. Why? Because the images are so much better when you have a team of artists working together. And it also provides a way for artists to network! It also allows each member to develop team building skills and leadership. Things that simply don’t happen often in other local groups.
4. We share business tips.
One of the challenges in AZ is that so few artists do their craft full-time. Most of them are part-time photographers, or they model when they can, etc. We want to change that. And one way is by having many of our top artists share what works for them. How are they marketing? How do they find clients? Knowing the business side is just as important as being artistically talented if you truly want to be in the fashion industry as a full-time artist.
That’s the Arizona Creative Professionals in a nutshell! We’re democratic in the growth and the direction of the group and we have many new things planned for 2016 to add even more value to Arizona Artists. We love what we do and feel that we teamwork and helping each other is the key to growing. AZ isn’t on the fashion level that LA or NY is. But we believe we can change that and we’d love to have you add your talents and skills to ours so we can make that happen!
We recently asked our members what they liked best about the ACP.
Here are a few of their comments:
“For me, the conversations and interactions here are of a better quality. Less drama, more constructive overall. Plus, the activities seem better organized.” – Eric Flynt
“I’ve only been here a short while but what I have noticed is the opportunity for hands on interaction and open discussion. The opportunity to grow in your trade is encouraged here.” – Holly Fain
“This group is more oriented to growth; personal, professional, business, artistic, etc. Everyone encourages others to expand on what it is they are doing, without the drama. We are all looking for something different in the end, but we all strive to improve our skills.” – Danielle Esplanade
“I love that it’s not a bunch of links to pages and random spamming of follow me posts. The number of organized sessions is great. And I like when I post for a casting call or offering a job, I like that I get quick and quality replies.” – Elizabeth Stokes
“I enjoy the willingness to collaborate and professionalism. The level of work in here is amazing, and the lack of ego is refreshing.” – Tina Strickland
“I am ALWAYS impressed with how quickly the group members mobilize to provide feedback or referrals to others. It is refreshing to see such a collaboration of talents versus the typical clique-y behaviors in some other groups. I think this is largely attributed to the selection process of members as well- the vouching the process.” – Janine Masterson
If you are a photographer, model, MUA or stylist, apply to Join Arizona Creative Professionals HERE.