The Art of the Personal Project: Ashton Ray Hansen

- - 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: Ashton Ray Hansen

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Photography: Ashton Ray Hansen

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How long have you been shooting?
11 since I picked up my first camera. Two since I broke off from assisting.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I gained most of my experience from photo assisting in Chicago.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Probably the love I have for my friends and admiration I have for them to leave the city behind to live a fairytale lifestyle in a remote part of Colorado.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Wow, lets see, I started photographing this on my first visit when they moved out there about six or seven years ago.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
If I start realizing I have no more passion for a specific project I move on. I don’t like to force anything. Sometimes I’ll re-visit an idea but if there’s no passion or interest then that’s it for me.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I feel great! Shooting this kind of work allows me to shoot whatever I want and however I want encouraging me to try new techniques and explore new perspectives.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post to Instagram all the time. www.instagram.com/ashtonrayhansen

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Viral, no. The closest to that is an image from this project being used as the cover for an environmental issue of Denver’s well respected 5280 magazine. Another image got me a Finalist award for a national photo contest. But that’s the closest to “viral” I’ve made it.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I haven’t yet but have been considering it recently as I have landed multiple jobs this summer solely because of the personal work on my website.

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Ashton is a food & lifestyle photographer currently based in Boulder, CO. A Colorado native, however, he found his roots while living in Chicago. It was during that time when he discovered his love of food and his interest in the way people live and play.

His first personal project Hotchkiss was about people living entirely off the land. Through this he has discovered an appreciation for those that have done what so many only wish they could do. His new project Van Life will document the lives of those who live out of their vans to live a life of adventure on the open road. It’s his relationship and love for people that he thrives in the collaborative processes that are the creative industry. Some of his most current clients include Ball Corp, David Weekley Homes, Noosa Yoghurt, and Boppy Baby Products.


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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