We are so excited to introduce you to our friends Cowboy Collective. A powerhouse woman-led business operated by freelancers. Cowboy Collective is a retouching studio, boutique stock agency, and production house based in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Cowboy’s full-service offerings reflect their decades of experience as freelancers in photography, visual arts, and project management.
Cowboy Collective embodies the values of the old-school cowboy ideal: dedication, trustworthiness, grit, and a can-do attitude. They seek out client partners with an intrepid spirit, ready to blaze a creative trail.
Tell us more about Cowboy Collective and what you do:
We offer a growing premium collection of publication-ready, rights-managed stock photography for any digital production project—alongside components for that perfect composite. Our unique images include lifestyle, leisure, and industry shots for commercial and editorial licensing. We provide custom pricing for each individual client’s needs.
Our retouching services include photo manipulation, color correction, compositing, and photo restoration, among others. We take pride in working with a wide range of clients, including independent photographers, corporations, and advertising agencies. Our team’s expertise means that we consider every pixel with an exacting eye for detail. We meet our clients where they are. We can help them find one particular image or build an entire custom library; we can meet highly technical specs or offer creative direction from our end.
We specialize in production for content creators. We create a stress-free ride for our clients by assigning a dedicated producer to help organize and manage all aspects of your project—talent, location, crew, schedule, and client relations—giving the creative team the space and bandwidth to work their magic.
Can you share a little bit more about how you work with freelancers specifically?
Cowboy Collective is operated entirely by freelancers, so we understand the challenges (and joys) of working independently! If we’re working with freelance clients, we show up as empathetic partners who can anticipate and adjust to their needs. We also hire freelance talent outside of our core team: we regularly work with writers and designers on a contract basis, for example, in addition to all of the roles you’d expect on set.
This year has been different than we all expected to say the least, how has your business shifted in the time of COVID-19?
Cowboy Collective was an idea that we’d been dreaming up long before the pandemic. We’d originally planned on a slow ramp-up, but when COVID-19 hit, we knew that it was time to kick things into gear. The photography industry has had to adapt to a very different way of operating, and it was clear that what we had to offer was only going to become more useful to our clients as those shifts continued.
Additionally, because one portion of our business relates to production, we had to rethink our way of doing business once everyone got back to work. We researched and developed a whole new set of on-set production protocols to protect ourselves, our partners, and our clients. You can view our blog post about those protocols on our website.
As a women-led business how has that shaped the way you have run your business. How have things been great and/or hard?
We’ve all built our careers in the photography industry, which is very male-dominated and consistently leaves out people of color. So we’ve seen how the lack of representation affects which stories get told and how they’re communicated. We know what it’s like to be the only woman on set, in a client meeting, or up for a gig. Each of us has faced our own challenges in our careers thus far, and we understand each other deeply based on those shared experiences. As a certified woman-owned and minority-owned business, we want Cowboy Collective to be a continuous force for change in the industry.
We’re committed to sustaining a company culture that expands opportunities for people whose voices aren’t always centered—or even heard. We’re developing an extensive, diverse network of freelance talent to pull from as we expand our set of services. And we approach each new project with the intention of telling our clients’ stories with a fresh perspective, fueled by the people we bring on board.
Lastly, what is the most rewarding thing that has come out of the Cowboy Collective?
Launching this business has created an incredibly satisfying working partnership between the three of us. As longtime collaborators, joining forces for this effort has given each of us the opportunity to shine in our unique niche, while at the same time contributing to a shared vision that is bigger than what each of us could do on our own. It’s a way for us to discover new strengths, partner with new people, and be part of broader, positive changes across the industry.