My commercial photography is often (almost always) a collaborative effort. Great relationships, trust and creative back and forth is vital, and it feels important to me to celebrate and share the “how” – because it is often a true technical marvel that elevates photography and adds magic to the final image. So here’s a little pull back of the curtain, a glimpse into how, why and with whom collaboration happens. 

What follows is a case study and a short Q&A with trusted partner Fedde Souverein at Luminous Creative Imaging.

Creating collaborative magic and whimsy

When did you first collaborate on a project? What were your first impressions of one another?


A bit back now, I was in Amsterdam and a mutual friend introduced us on a visit to Fedde’s office. Fedde and I immediately hit it off, I loved the work and knew that I wanted to work together on something, somehow. Soon thereafter I had a project in Chicago for an Association whose concept was to showcase the cityscapes while also having BIG HR words seamlessly integrated into the landscape. Fedde was my first call and the project turned out great as did the collaboration, and I wanted to continue the relationship.


The first project we worked on together was a very nice project for an Association, in which we had to create and integrate various powerful words like “Faster!” and “Bigger!” into the Chicago city scape. It was a pretty creative and great project to work on together and get to know each other.

We’d only met Cade before and this was our first project together, so for us he was an interesting new client who had done a lot of great and interesting work previously!

SHRM FasterSHRM SavvierSHRM Brighter

Can you describe the process of your collaboration?


I’ve been working with Fedde for a number of years now on CGI and retouching projects – not all projects but we find each other quite often. Clients seem to enjoy our chemistry and how we approach projects. We are usually on the creative, chemistry calls and I think we have a nice way of talking through our approach as well as working through the projects and collaborations.

Every project is different as is our approach. As most projects, I am approached with a brief and asked to bring the concepts to life. Fedde and I are very solution-oriented and move straight into the “how” portion of the project. Flexibility, comfort level, and openness have been the keys to our success. 

I think relationships are still the best way to keep working in advertising photography. My reputation with prior clients and agencies, production and post-production teams is vital. That’s a thing you can’t fake, it has to be authentically cultivated over time, by being a professional and treating the work and the people you work with and for, with respect and care. It’s always exciting to forge relationships in a creative space. 


We work very closely together as a team, using and building on both our expertises to bring the project from a concept to a final product.

Usually we start out with creating a rough placeholder scene / visual in which we do a lot of sketching with CG and try to visualize what the final visual could look like. Cade lovingly calls this “going to the Bat Cave” and this process basically means that we work for 2-3 weeks per-visualizing the various shots (assuming it is more than one).

After this creative process, we usually have a good work in progress version that Cade can use for his photography, getting things like focal length, distance to the subject, height of the camera, light direction, etc, etc. from us, so he can (partially) reconstruct the scene in the studio.

By doing this, he can then completely focus on his creative process in the studio, in which he gets the talent to act great, look great and then seamlessly integrate them into the visual!

This allows the client to see quite well how the image is taking shape and also see how the talent will not just work on set but also already see how it will work in the final visual.

After this we continue working on evolving the visuals to a great looking final product!

What do you consider the best part of working together? How do you make each other better?


I have loved collaborating with Fedde, he is very responsive and always excited to talk and marinate on ideas for projects big and small. This back and forth I find very important, nothing is too out there for him so there is always the safety net of sharing ideas.

I recently read a great quote by Michael Stipe in an interview in the New Yorker about his relationship with the members of REM: “We’re talented, but we’re not that talented. Together, we were a force. There is this beautiful, really deep respect for each other and we don’t have to fight and argue about what direction this or that thing will go.”


We have a very well thought-out plan for creating these great complex visuals, sometimes needing months to work on and finalize all of them. We trust in each others abilities and leave each other to his own expertise, thus getting the best of both worlds!

I love how Cade always leaves us a lot of freedom in our creative process and beliefs in our abilities to create something great. Together we combine both of our professional as well as our creative idiosyncrasies and love for the visual medium into great work!

Working with other people is never all rosy, can you speak to challenges of working together, or of collaboration more broadly?


I’m based in the States, Fedde is based in Holland which one could think would be challenging but we have always used the time difference to our benefit. When we work on projects, I can work on the images with the client and send notes in our time-zone. With the time difference, we go to bed and Fedde works throughout his day and has updates by the time we awake in the States. This approach really helps with timelines and deadlines which seem to be getting tighter and tighter.


As anyone in this industry has experienced, we are nearly always fighting against deadlines, trying to keep the whole process from going out of control, making sure we don’t have to re-do 50% of near the end of the project, etc. This always adds some tension to the process.

Also, since we are in completely different time-zones, this means that sometimes we might need each others input, but have to wait until the other one is awake.

But all and all, we make it work very well and by getting up very early or going to bed very late and using all the communication methods the modern world has given us!

Snow Globe - ItalySnow Globe - Paris

Some people don’t like to share or talk about collaboration – they like to keep their “magic sauce” proprietary, why do you feel it’s important to share successful relationships?


Sometimes I’m reluctant to give too much away, to walk people through the entirety of my process, or to talk about things in too technical of terms. Are photographs to be seen and not heard? I’ve never been one to geek-out on camera equipment. What I do trust and rely on is relationships, not only with my clients, but depending on the project, I’ve learned that the right post-production artist ensures a strong creative synergy and ultimately the best possible finish. But there always remains that little voice in the back of my head that whispers “doesn’t the magic disappear if you talk about it?”

Yet sharing the process – the whole thing – is living on the edge for me. And while I have started to push myself and share more of my process and inspirations from project to project on both my stories and @cademartinphoto  pages, for this exercise there is also:


Because it is important to be proud of a relationship in which you achieve great things by supporting each other! It is not through the sweat and tears of only one person, but because of the teamwork and combining all of our creative minds together we can achieve better things and this should be celebrated and not hidden.

The “magic sauce” is not some kind of tool or plugin, it is the shared vision and years of experience and collaboration 🙂