The Art of the Personal Project: Michael Warren

- - Personal Project

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.

Today: Michael Warren







Everyone has stuff they care or obsess about. All the people in these photographs were asked to bring something that has meaning to them. It could be anything – living, dead, or somewhere in between. That is the premise for this project I call “Somebodies”.

I started the project in 2011 when I asked a few friends if they would be interested in participating. It was simple; I would take a picture of the person, a picture of the object and get a quote about why the object had meaning to the person. To my surprise everyone said yes. I often didn’t know what they would be bringing until the day they showed up. I just asked them to think about it for a few days. I also let them know that I would videotape them at some point during the session so that I could get the story in their own voice. The audio is transcribed verbatim and I use it to create the written statement that always accompanies the pictures. Interestingly, the transcript has turned out to be a vital component of the project because it allows for a better sense of the person to emerge. By using their own words and sentence structures I think the first person narrative feels more honest and heart felt. So much can be garnered about someone’s personality by the words they choose and the way they speak.

In “Somebodies”, one of the things I love the most about this project is that the images are honest and uncomplicated.  The pictures also have a unique visual strength obtained by an extensive color treatment for a subtle result that unifies the series.

I’m a firm believer that shooting personal projects is the key to a successful career as a commercial photographer. It reminds me why I got into photography in the first place and more importantly it’s a way to show creatives and art producers what I really like to shoot.

If you’re passionate about something let me know. I am always looking for new stories.

Follow the project on Michael’s Instagram feed @seewarren

You can view more of the personal project here:


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.

Suzanne Sease

Comments are closed.