Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.
In revising the Art of the Personal Project, I am pleased to present the personal work of Art Streiber. Thank you to Bill Stockland and Art for taking the time in their busy schedules to speak with me. I chose Art because his site shows the work he gets hired for, while the Stockland Martel blog gives him a forum for his personal work. To see Art’s website, please go to http://www.artstreiber.com. If you would like to hear Art speak, visit the calendar on his website for upcoming events. For example, he is speaking tonight, Thursday, Oct. 13th, in the Los Angeles area and this year at PDN’s PhotoExpo Plus in New York City.
The Farmer’s Market
In our foodie/farm-to-table culture, shopping at big-city farmer’s markets has practically become a religious experience. Devout attendees make a weekly pilgrimage to their neighborhood market in order to buy the freshest, most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy and poultry (and honey and nuts and flowers) available.
And the farmers themselves are just as devoted…not only tilling the soil but then bringing their products to market, often hours and hours away from their farms.
It was this devotion that drew me to photographing a series of these farmer/vendors at a few markets in West Los Angeles.
As an unlicensed, uncertified, amateur sociologist, I am very interested in subcultures…groups of people who are dedicated to a cause, a hobby or a lifestyle. Their focus and steadfastness are fascinating.
My intention with this series was to capture the farmer/vendors as naturally as possible with their wares—essentially an elevated snapshot. No frills. Yes, I did light my subjects in order to balance the light under their pop-up tents, but they are lit in a way that doesn’t make them look like there is any lighting involved.
Unlike my commissioned work, this series, and my other personal series, allowed me to work unfettered by any requirements other than my own, enabled me to explore a simplified technical approach to my portraiture and reinforced what I already knew to be true: that making someone’s portrait is about connecting with them, hearing their story and being empathetic and interested.
Dogs and Their Owners
For his latest personal portrait series, Art Streiber ventured into fur-tile territory: dogs and their owners.
“Dogs fascinate me,” he says.
“I am intrigued by how we anthropomorphize dogs, attributing all kinds of emotions and personality traits to our pets:
‘He’s just shy.’
‘She loves people.’
‘He hates the cold weather.’
And, of course, I’m guilty of doing the exact same thing with my dog, Jones.
My brother is a vet in Southern California, and on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his practice he asked me if I would do portraits of his clients and their pets.
So my crew and I set up a black tent in his parking lot on a chilly spring morning so that we could capture the attendees and their canine companions at my brother’s anniversary bash.
What struck me as soon as the first owner and his pet walked into our tent was the ‘personality’ of the dog and how it was a reflection of the personality of the owner. On a lark, I cropped the head of the owner out of the photo, relying on the face of the dog to tell the story of the relationship between the pet and the owner.
All of the dogs are leashed or attached to their owners, but many seem to be striking out on their own, while others stay close.
There’s no question that the physicality, clothing, and posture of the owners are indicative of that relationship as well, but it’s the look of the dogs as they stare directly into the camera that carry the portraits.”
Below, highlights from Art’s portrait session at El Segundo Animal Hospital, where his brother Andrew Streiber DVM/Family practices…
“Going to the prom in 2016 has changed in so many ways since I went to the prom in the early 1980s,” observes Art, “and yet, many aspects are exactly the same. Most of the kids are still awkward with their prom dates, unsure of themselves and the ‘relationship’ they’ve created for this special, once-a-year, dress-up party. The boys still want to look suave and debonaire, and the girls still want to be seen as uniquely pretty while fitting in with how all of their friends look. Teenagers, all these years later, are still teenagers, and as an amateur sociologist, I am fascinated.”
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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.