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Cam Kirk’s Record Label For Photographers Celebrates 4 Years Of Success And Pharrell Partnership

Meet Cam Kirk, the Atlanta-based photographer/videographer who launched the first-of-its-kind record label-like agency for photographers.

Meet Cam Kirk, the Atlanta-based photographer/videographer who evolved his career by launching a first-of-its-kind record label-like agency for photographers.

The Morehouse graduate was able to establish himself in the entertainment industry as one of the music industry’s most credible photographers and videographers by working with celebrated artists like Jermaine Dupri, Young Thug, Migos, Travis Scott, Future, Gucci Mane, Megan Thee Stallion, and fellow Morehouse alum Metro Boomin, among many others.

His photography skills and regard in the entertainment industry eventually helped him secure creative director roles on major brand campaigns including AirBnB x Big Boi, Budweiser x Lil Baby, Buffalo Wild Wings x Jack Harlow, and Nike x Megan Thee Stallion. After working his way to the top, Kirk sought to amplify other photographers and creatives by opening his 7,000 sqft photography studio in Atlanta, the Collective Gallery.

“My career trajectory as a photographer and entrepreneur is honestly difficult to describe because it’s constantly evolving,” Kirk told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“I surpassed my personal goals and expectations years ago so I’m honestly having fun and exploring new things about myself that I didn’t even know existed.”

Since its 2019 inception, the Collective Gallery has served as an unparalleled record label-like agency for photographers that financially invests, manages, develops, and helps artist monetize their craft through touring, merchandising, and content distribution – much like a record label would support do for one of its signed artists.

As part of its growing legacy, The Collective Gallery has provided over 500 job opportunities to creatives and partnered their talent with brands like Nike, eBay, Adidas, Puma, and the NBA. In 2022, Kirk launched the Cam Kirk Foundation, a non-profit focused on art, education, and community within the local Atlanta area.

“I’m trying to change the game not only for myself but for those to come after me so I think that’s what keeps me inspired and motivated now,” Kirk said. “Every move I make is bigger than me. All of my companies follow that mission to leave the world better than we found it.”

Learn more about Cam Kirk, the success of The Collective Gallery, and how he’s creating profitable opportunities for other creatives below.

Tell us about the inspiration to launch the Collective Gallery and how you feel about its growth

Collective Gallery is the evolution of my personal success and journey in the photography industry. I like to compare it to a music artist who has experienced success and is now starting his own music label to help develop future talent. Collective Gallery is my Roc-A-Fella Records or my OVO. After finding my way in the photography and music industry creating major projects alongside brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Puma, Adidas and more, and working with artists like Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Megan Thee Stallion and more I felt it was time to develop something more impactful and bigger than just me. I also knew I had a very unique journey as a photographer because I did not have many mentors or examples of success amongst Black creatives, so in a sense I created my own blueprint on how a modern-day photographer can find success in photography and culture. For the legacy and impact of my own work and existence to truly have meaning I realize that I cannot be the only one to do it. True legacy is built based upon the impact of your vision and career on others.

I knew photography agencies existed so I wanted to create something different and more hands on. I took inspiration from music record labels and wanted to develop artists, not just photographers, who can build brands and monetize their followings outside of camerawork. At Collective Gallery we financially invest in our artists while also developing their business and brand. Unlike most agencies we don’t just show up for our artist when a project is on the table but we work around the clock with our artists. We launched Collective Gallery in 2019 and to date have worked with over seven artists where we have taken their career to new heights developing their portfolio and expanded their brand and client base tremendously. We have also expanded their revenue streams by developing brand partnership deals for them which allow them to step in front of the lens from time to time. I truly believe we are redefining the game and are hopefully influencing many other major labels to see the value in supporting more art styles outside of simply musicians.

“I imagine a world where a photographer one day can be signed to Def Jam or Cash Money and be label-mates with some of the music stars.”

How has Collective Gallery been able to support its 1,000+ creatives? Are you receiving support/ funding?

When we first announced Collective Gallery the response from the photo community was so overwhelming that we had to develop another part of our company that allowed us to work with photographers even outside of our label roster. We developed our brand agency arm that allows us to work with brands like Puma, Sprite, Nike, and more on projects all around the world utilizing our database of photographers who expressed interest in joining our label.

This model provides companies with a central trusted voice to vet and source new talented creatives around the world without the management stress. It allows us to connect with different photographers on a more project-to-project basis to determine if they could be a great fit for our label. To date, we have provided close to 1,000 opportunities for creatives to work with some of the biggest brands in the world on a number of different projects. We also have a number of companies on retainer that hire our agency to handle their content needs and we source the right photographers for their specific needs around the world.

What does the future of the Collective Gallery look like?

The future of Collective Gallery is something I am extremely excited about. We spent the first few years proving the model and making necessary tweaks to the structure of the company. In the next few years, we will be more present and forward-facing within culture expanding our business model and pushing our mission. Our goal is to completely change the landscape and position for photographers within culture creating a more favorable playing field for photographers around the world to receive support and a platform.

“We plan to also eventually expand into different art forms on the roster including even music one day.”

In October, Cam Kirk Studios partnered with Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club. How is the launch of Billionaire Boys Club Creative Lab aiding in your overall mission?

Collective Gallery was also inspired by the direct success of my second company Cam Kirk Studios, a creative space and community based in Atlanta, Georgia. Through my studio, I directly mentor and provide a safe space for local creatives in Atlanta to thrive and develop their skills. The work I was doing with CKS inspired me to want to do it in a more global and hands-on way which is how I developed Collective Gallery. The studio just recently celebrated 30,000+ scheduled appointments booked in our six and a half years of existence. As our community continues to grow, so do the needs of our creative community.

With the help of Pharrell and his Billionaire Boys Club brand, we were able to build out a free creative space nestled inside Cam Kirk Studios. The space includes state-of-the-art technology and computers equipped with creative and editing software for those in our community to use. The space also can serve as a co-working space for those looking for an inspiring place to work outside of their homes or offices.

“With this creation of our space it makes my studio a one-stop shop where you can not only photograph content but also edit and distribute it all from one space.”

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