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 Scott Lowden
How long have you been shooting?
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m primarily self-taught, although I took a few intensive seminars at the Parsons/The New School early on.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I was first inspired by the location…this building. Holidays and random weekends, I would find myself driving on Rt. 309 in Hazleton, PA while visiting family. There’s this building that continually caught my eye, especially when the sun was low and bright. It’s an abandoned machine shop of some type, and I can only imagine the cool widgets they’d make inside. Once I decided I needed to shoot there I tapped a great local resource…my nieces and nephew. Imagining their differing personalities and being forced to spend a long afternoon shooting, Lord of the Flies, the novel by William Golding, immediately came to mind… of course only loosely. I wanted to focus on children exploring desolate space, but with a more lifestyle and upbeat lens. Further inspiration was borrowing wardrobe from my friend at LA’s Blu Pony Vintage and pulling a few key props from a nearby Salvation Army and Dollar Store. One of the challenges was the edit and keeping the story somewhat tight, as I ended up with some ‘happy’ images as well as some very moody ones.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
While I do have a few personal projects that are many years long and still going strong, this was conceived, produced, shot, and presented in a few months.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That’s a tough question, as I’m not one to shelve something even if it’s pushing back. I’ve moved a few things to the bottom of the list, but I don’t think I’ve ever completely removed a project. Because I’ve been working in photography for a very long time I’ve grown accustomed to having a very long time horizon.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I think it’s OK for the self-assigned personal work to be different than what I’d shoot for my commercial portfolio. It’s always an exercise in creating, stretching my brain, and sometimes doing things I’m not as comfortable with. Actually that’s probably one of the most important things. Anything that this type of shooting helps you work through or discover translates into your day job. For me personal shoots become an exercise in how little production value and crew I can put into a shoot while still realizing what I pictured in my head. This translates well into commercial shoots that sometimes don’t have the budgets they need.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
For sure. Most of my personal projects, and this one in particular, are well received on social media. I’m constantly adding to my list of internet based outlets that may be interested in my work.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I’ve gotten a good response from projects that I’ve posted, but I wouldn’t say that they’ve gone viral. I believe that marketing is cumulative, so any time your name is out there along side interesting images it’s a good thing. This definitely doesn’t happen on it’s own…you have to push the story out as many places as you can.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I’d say about 40% of the images I use for marketing are from strictly personal projects, and the majority of the rest are from self-assigned shoots geared more toward the type of work I want to shoot. I swear sometimes my goal is simply to catch someone’s eye on the journey from his or her mailbox to the trash can. Work that lives outside the advertising context can sometimes do a better job at that.
Scott is a compulsive photographer who carries his camera everywhere. An avid team player, he consults both sides of his brain to bring concepts to life. An award winning photographer with over 20 years of experience, he’s been shooting for some of the biggest brands including Bose, Kodak, Coca-Cola, Delta, and AFLAC, just to name a few. He spent the first part of his career specializing in still life, a few years directing for TV and creating some festival worthy short films, and has been concentrating on lifestyle photography for the past 10 years or so. Shooting worldwide, he currently calls Atlanta home with his wife and Sophie the dog.
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.