The Art of the Personal Project: Bob O’Connor

- - 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: Bob O’Connor

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

How long have you been shooting?
15 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to school for architecture, but took a lot of photo classes while I was there. That said, I learned more from assisting photographers in the real world than I ever did in school.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I was interested in the sparse landscapes and ever changing weather that exists in Iceland.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This project is from a single, two week, trip to Iceland. It was presented as soon as I got the film scanned and retouched.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to think about and plan things for so long that by the time I get around to photographing them I’m pretty confident they’re going to work. If it’s gotten to the point that I’m getting on a plane and going somewhere, I know I have a project that’ll work.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t think they’re that different. I make a conscious effort to keep all the work I show in my portfolio/website, whether from personal or commercial projects, feeling that same. The goal is to get hired for projects that I would’ve done for myself even if someone wasn’t paying me. I try not to dilute my aesthetic with images that are overly commercial looking, solely there to attract a client.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I’m a regular Instagram user @oconbo I’d say I post the early stages of projects and/or process images there and save the final images for my website.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
This project slowly made its way around to a lot of design and photo blogs. It wasn’t a single day viral hit. I did a limited edition print of the horse image with Jen Bekman’s 20×200 project that did sell out in less than a day.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. A postcard with an image from this project that was sent to an art buyer resulted directly in me getting an advertising job to take a similar style image for their project.

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Bob O’Connor is a Boston based photographer interested in the places that people live and work. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including, The New York Times Magazine, Fast Company, Technology Review, Dwell, and Fortune magazines. O’Connor’s work has also been shown at The Photographic Resource Center, The Griffin Museum of Photography, and Jen Bekman Gallery. He was named one of “30 Emerging Photographers to Watch” by PDN in 2006 and one of Resource Magazine’s “10 Best 10” in 2009.


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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