Cooper and O'Hara at Golden Gate Bridge Selfie

Why Having a Business Partner Is One of the Best Choices I Ever Made

Partnerships dominate the halls of history in both business and creativity.

 

Jobs & Wozniak, Lennon & McCartney, Ben & Jerry’s, and many more.

 

I highly recommend reading Powers of Two, a book that discusses just this very topic with great intelligence. Here I can only speak to my own experiences and thoughts and will share why starting a photography partnership was the best decision I ever made.

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Whether you will ever form a formal business partnership or not doesn’t matter. I’d like to share with you the value of the choice I made to partner with Thomas and encourage you to form your own partnerships, if not in a legal sense, at least in a casual way.

 

Writers JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were great friends that continually bounced ideas off each other and discussed writing their books with each other in ways they couldn’t with anyone else. Those kind of relationships help boost your creativity, your perception of the world, and your life in general.

There are definitely risks to starting a partnership. A business partnership is oddly like a marriage, and not all marriages work out – and who gets to keep the house?

With that being said, I’m sure if you looked at many of the best things in your life, they came about because of a risk you took. And as you will see in a deeply personal anecdote at the end of this post, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I hadn’t taken that leap.


Here are a few reasons why we work that much better as a partnership:

 

Accountability
If you’re not doing everything in your power to make awesome work and develop the business, you’re not only letting yourself down, but your partner. This can be a surprisingly good motivator to follow up on great ideas and projects. Everyone has moments of apathy and laziness, but almost always Thomas and I have the good fortune that the other person can help spur on positivity and action and kick our asses into gear again.

 

A fresh set of eyes
When you’re looking at a project or problem too closely sometimes you miss the forest for the trees. Or that typo.

 

A complimentary pair.
If we were the same people, our business would suffer. The greatest thing about our partnership is that we have a shared vision, but help see it with different eyes, hands, and hearts.

 

While Thomas can think up some crazy big picture ideas, I can back that up with thinking about the actions we need to go through to make that happen. Or I can do lots of Lighting while Thomas is interacting with the subject and developing a rapport. Of course, we wouldn’t be very good photographers if we couldn’t flip back and forth between each of those roles of artist and producer. We can do either side of the equation, but like everyone, we fall somewhere on a spectrum of which things we prefer to do (and it changes depending on the day), or excel at. And because of this teamwork we don’t have to multitask the way other photographer’s might.

 

Vacations from work
Trusting that thing can be taken care of while you’re enjoying quality time with your family, without fear of turning down a potential job and thereby losing momentum (because momentum & timing are often the strongest forces in this line of work) is amazing. I honestly don’t know how other people work, never being able to take a vacation out of fear of losing that next job. To be at the top of our game you need to recharge your batteries from time to time.

 

& when things gets rough
I realized especially this passing year that to make something truly worthwhile you need to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. So now I’m going to connect all of this and transition into a story about the worst day of my life.

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Thomas and I went traveling on a road trip last August that lead us all the way to the western edge of Canada. Tofino, on Vancouver Island, to be exact.

 

We were striving for new photo opportunities in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

 

It was an amazing trip, full of the talented and eclectic people that make the island the colourful place it is.

 

We met and photographed Yogis, Surfers, Musicians, Artisan Coffee Roasters, Marathon Runners, and Tarot Readers, to name a few.

 

But just as our trip was coming to an end and we were on our journey back home, my amazing wife Jessica had to wait for 5 hours in an emergency room back in Edmonton with her best friend to comfort her as the doctors delivered the news that she, that we, had suffered a miscarriage.

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Those 5 hours of waiting were not the same for me as they were for her. While she experienced the smell and awkwardness of the hospital, and that pain in her abdomen first-hand, I was stuck in some sort of limbo, feeling angry at myself for not being there, and only thinking about whether the results were going to be miraculous or heart-breaking.

 

I experienced the view from the ferry in a daze as we made our way across to the mainland & Vancouver. Around lunch is when I would receive the phone call that would take my future and blow it away like it was a sand painting that never really stood a chance.

 

A shockingly large amount of people have had miscarriages. I also know that we will have children some day, whether we do it naturally, or adopt. But it still fucking hurts like hell.

 

Thomas was a great help in just being there, and of course being able to lean on our family with their amazing support helped, but there’s still nothing that can really be said. All I needed was to get back and be with Jessica as soon as possible.

 

Thomas and I left and drove the entire way back to Edmonton in one shot. Most of that was driven in the rain. I know Thomas was exhausted at the end of it, but he knew how important it was and went above and beyond to get us back.

 

The next week was needed to start the healing and Thomas was able to handle absolutely everything on our plates at work. Without my strong partnership with Thomas, I don’t know that I would have been able to focus on what was truly important at that time without worrying about the business. Having a partner was invaluable, and I am so grateful it was Thomas.

 

Thank you for reading this post. I hope I encouraged you to think about the people in your life who are your partners in whatever it is you do, and to cherish and cultivate those relationships.

Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you.Walter Winchell

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