The Art of the Personal Project: Dennis Stevens

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Dennis Stevens

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AllMenAreBornEqualThenAHandfulBecomeFirefighters

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IntoTheSmokeWeGo

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YouNeverKnowIfTheNextCallWillBeYourLast

How long have you been shooting?
I have been shooting for close to eight years now with three of those being professional.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am completely self taught through experimentation.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Growing up, I always had a strong fascination with firefighters. Last summer I took the initiative to speak with the local fire chief about my photography and he granted me the privilege of working alongside his firefighters. I spent nearly a week trying to get a sense of how I was going to capture such a powerful subject, but in the end it turned out fantastic.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This project began last July, and I released the first set of images in mid-august.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It truly depends on the subject that I am capturing. Traditionally, I will spend around three days to determine if I connect with the subject, if not I normally abandon the idea until a later date.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I am very selective in the work I choose to publish in my portfolio. Portfolio work for me has to be perfect in quality, while my personal projects don’t have too high of standard since I am just expressing myself.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I present my work on different venues depending on the subject matter. For example, I posted this project nearly everywhere I could including the firefighting sub-reddit.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
My work with first responders has gone viral within the firefighting community. As of January 2015, my series had received over half a million views as a result of social media sharing. Although with a lot of viral images out there, only a couple thousand of viewers knew that I was the photographer.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
At this point, I have not. Although, I plan to create multiple promotional pieces that I will distribute to agencies this summer to introduce my brand.

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Dennis Stevens is an eighteen year old photographer based in Orlando, FL. He specializes in lifestyle, advertising, and performance photography with a hard focus on first responders. He is network driven and loves to create work with new clients. He has been shooting commercial photography freelance for the past three years while attending high school. He has been regarded by the greats of his industry as ambitious and someone who will make his mark.

His work with first responders has been widely recognized in the first responder industry. His continuous series highlighting the Winter Park Fire Department has been viewed by nearly half-a-million people worldwide as a consequence of social media sharing. His most recent campaign with Honeywell International received the attention of nearly twenty-thousand viewers within the period of a work week.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Suzanne Sease

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