I have a love hate relationship with my hometown of Chicago. As a creative I work in one of the biggest markets in the nation, however this is one of the worse places to start anything.

Here is what I’ve learned from trying to operate a creative company in Chicago.

Location is everything

Know where the money lives, know where you are valued.

If I walked to a rich side of town my prices need to be higher—not because they have money but simply because I will look way too amature. The mindset in these areas are, “You get what you paid for.” Take that same price to the poor side or even middle class and they will barrage you will complaints of being too expensive even if the package is cheap but fair. The mind set here is coupon, discounts; “I want the most bang for my buck.” This has has caused so many creative businesses to vastly undercut their prices because many come from middle or lower middle class and their peers are unwilling to pay for the price that the market suggest.

Don’t try to work on the south side as a black person or get ready to have people beg for discounts. It’s something that cannot be helped with the wage gap between the north and the south side. If you are like me who live far south I cannot go to the northside normally. My only hope is to go online or take over every single small town in the area. I chose online, a cheap way to leave the windy city but a difficult route. Which led into my next point, friends and associates not being supportive as they would be a stranger.

A salesman isn’t welcome in his hometown

this can’t be overstated enough, when going into business work with people who don’t know—and you can’t be friendly. I’m not saying be mean but keep personal conversations off limits until at least a working routine is established.

Friends let each other down like it’s second nature despite the movie depiction of a friend going on crazy adventures neglecting their personal lives. Friends and family will leave a person high and dry enough to be more of an obstacle than any enemy or hater.

When it’s all said and done before any internet brand is established I wanted to have enough people in my circle but sometimes it’s best to keep moving in order to keep the brand from stopping.

A brand that’s set in stone

A brand too malleable vs a rigid one in collaborative work

My problem that I’ve been working through a brand that might need to change. To me, collaboration is a blending of brands. Cannot collaborate with someone with a ridged brand as if they are Coca-Cola but are as small as you. At that point they are hiring you to work for their brand and it’s not a collaboration. If you are just starting or starting back up it might help but know the limits. If someone is about to make out like a bandit for your work turn it down and charge what you’re worth.

Collaboration on brands is getting something that cannot be achieved alone. Ultimately I personally would want to work with someone I can see myself working with long term or even as partners not one being an employee. In other words don’t get bullied in collaborative work.

Brand Range on Photography

portraits of mood setting

  • Typically for general brands
  • Non-brands and non-models

Typically this is nothing worth collaborating, I like the shot but too general and it won’t create anything new. The only thing that is worth collaborating is for my love for shooting in low light and at dusk. If someone wants to collaborate based on skill alone then they should hire you.

Slight NSFW Below

Here are some romantic themes, expressive and character building examples. These take a bit more of a creative eye than the photo mentioned above. I’ve done collaborative work with writers, some who have locations that I cannot secure, musical artist ect. Sometimes moving outside the field can create better collaborative work. These are more targeted styles or different kinds of photos. These were targets for writers and people wanting to blend their brands. This is different from a portrait that might show on someone’s profile picture.

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