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: Agnes Lopez
Full disclosure Agnes is a client of mine.
How long have you been shooting?
Professionally since 2003. Many years before that, my brother-in-law bought a Minolta Maxxum 9000 for me from a pawn shop as a gift because he knew I was interested in photography.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught. I got my start as a stylist for commercial photographers, so I picked up a lot on set. I would watch the photographers closely to see how they worked and then go off and practice on my own with local models, taking my film to Walgreens to get developed and scanned. I also took some classes at the local community college, where I learned how to use a darkroom and print my work. Cutting my teeth shooting film still influences the way I shoot today. I tend to be very calculating and specific when I finally hit the shutter.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
In the past three years I’ve made a move into photographing food and food lifestyle images, though mostly for editorial, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could produce a full concept from start to finish.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot the project early last year and presented it about a month after the last day of shooting.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
When I plan a project, I spend a day or two scouting and a few days laying out my vision. I’ll break down the day into a detailed schedule so I can get the absolute most out of my time.
On the day of, I just try to feel it out. I shoot a few frames and don’t try to force it. Since it’s personal work, I give myself the freedom to move onto the next shot if a particular setup isn’t working.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Shooting personal work is more about the process for me. What I ultimately get from the shoot doesn’t have to be a set of portfolio images; I want to learn and grow from something outside of what I do every day.
In my day job shooting for a monthly magazine, I’m usually given a short amount of time and specific parameters for the images I’m producing. With personal work, I’m able to take as long as I need and can experiment with different lighting setups and compositions. The hope is always to bring what I do with my personal projects into the other work I do.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Occasionally. I will be posting more of it this year after I finish the project I’m working on now.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet, but I plan to do more of it and keep putting it out there for people to see.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Some of the images from this shoot are in my current portfolio, which is primarily my food work.
I had this idea to focus on cocktails and how bartenders make them. I pitched my idea to a package store in my area, the Grape and Grain Exchange, which sells small batch liquors and has a bar up front where they offer really unique drinks.
The bartenders are serious about what they do but they’re also funny guys. My goal was to show the bartenders in their element and how their personalities go into the drinks they make.
Agnes is an editorial and food lifestyle photographer with a home base in the historic Riverside-Avondale neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida and is available for assignments worldwide.
From documenting the effort that goes into preparing a pop-up dining event or photographing the fine cuisine of a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant, Agnes traverses the Southeastern US and beyond with her camera in search of inspiration and exceptional meals.
Her work can be seen regularly in the pages of Jacksonville Magazine and its other publications, Taste, Home, and 904 Magazine.
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.