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: Amy Mikler
How long have you been shooting?
Full time since 2007
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Hobby, then school, then assisting, then topped off with a lot of self-prescribed “assignments.”
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The first time I went to East Africa I struggled upon my return to articulate the vast differences in a typical East African’s neighborhood structure and daily routines. Happy for an excuse to return, I set about finding a willing child I could document: someone old enough to articulate some dreams, but young enough to have that open innocence and time that is helpful to a documentary project. I didn’t want a starving kid, nor an atypical wealthy child either for my One Child One Week project. I was fortunate to find Masengesho Julien, a sweet 12 year old girl in Gisenyi, Rwanda.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Because of the nature of travel time and costs to Africa, the project was a one week shoot from start to finish. I did sit on the images for a while, but did eventually add it to my site. Simply out of love for them. That said, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t come back from Africa with beautiful images, it is a place full of lovely light and gorgeous people. After I shot the project my hope was to repeat the process in another country, but I haven’t pulled that off yet. I’m eyeing Guatemala though.…
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I just started a new one, so I will let you know! The One Child One Week | Rwanda project was born of such love and curiosity that it seemed weird not to share it. The newest one is a little more challenging: one day, one old TLR, one roll of 120 film, and one final grid showcasing all the images after processing.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I still strive to achieve images that people will want to look at, but love the freedom and challenge of chasing ideas that aren’t constrained by advertising goals or editorial copy. That said, I go in knowing that the images may never be seen by anyone but me. If I feel it fits in with other work and won’t completely confuse the viewer, I might mix images into my website. But my latest personal project is just to challenge myself to slowly see the scene around me and to treasure each push of the button.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
No. I printed a One Child One Week booklet of the little girl so I could send it to her, and gave it to a couple curious friends.
One Child | One Week | Rwanda was born out of equal parts love of the beauty to be captured in Africa, and a desire to show and share what day to day life looks like for a typical East African city child. What do the homes look like? How is the classroom environment? What do daily chores entail? Life in Rwanda is both beautiful and hard, and hopefully these photos capture a little bit of both.
Amy Mikler is a lifestyle & kid photographer based in Austin, TX. Her journey to photography began with a Christmas present from her grandparents at age 9, and initially resulted in creating scenarios for the neighborhood kids to model in. For some reason she did not consider her beloved hobby when considering majors, but after spending most of her disposable income on photography throughout her twenties, she decided she either needed to find a cheaper hobby or go back to school for photography. Thankfully the latter worked out. She shoots for a variety of commercial and editorial clients, and deeply appreciates them allowing her to use her “hobby” to make a living.
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.