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: Eric Frazier
How long have you been shooting?
I finished school 20 years ago, but I’d say I’ve been pursuing it full time for about 15. I spent awhile messing around, doing odd jobs, and generally slacking off after college. Once I came back to photography, I was fully committed.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
BA in Photography from Webster University in St Louis. Sometimes I wish I had a BFA so I seemed more arty, but I always gravitated more to the commercial side. I don’t think I was ever quite cool enough for the art crowd anyway!
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’ve spent some time on the water and love boats and the last few years I’ve gotten into woodworking. Recently a colleague, Bobbi Wendt, connected me with the owner of woodyboater.com Matt Smith, who graciously connected me with the woody boat community in Algonac, MI, the birthplace of Chris Craft. I already had some interest in these boats, so when the chance arose to photograph several along with the owners, I jumped at it.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This was my first shoot with woody boats. I spent 3 days up there and came back with about 5500 shots. It’s a great start, but I’d like to get up there again, as well as other hotbeds of woody boating, like Lake Tahoe. Being a personal project, it usually takes a backseat to paying gigs and family stuff, so I’ll probably come back to it a few more times in the coming years.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I think you know pretty quick. If I like the images, then it’s working. If the images aren’t quite there yet, but I’m enjoying the process and think there’s more to explore, then I’ll keep going. Sometimes, I’ll like the shots and enjoy working on it, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re good enough for public consumption. I’ll be glad I did it and will have learned something, or grown in some way, but it can’t work every time, photographically speaking. That’s where good, honest editing comes into play. And these projects may still have a life on social media too.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Portfolio shoots tend to be a little more focused and planned out. I have a clearer vision of what I want for my book, whereas personal work is a little more exploratory. For me, this is the point of personal work – to mess around, take chances, see where it takes you. If you’re always boxed in to a particular outcome, like on a paying shoot, you can’t really go places your creativity or curiosity takes you. I think curiosity is a big deal in this profession, and should be nurtured.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
This is one of the best things about social media. It’s the perfect place to show personal work. It’s ok to be a little less polished or produced and gives people a better idea of your personality and interests outside of your professional work.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Ha, no, I haven’t gone viral yet. Maybe my next project will: “Celebrities who change their names, move to Texas, and become professional rodeo clowns.” Still trying to find some though, so let me know if you hear of any.
The images did appeal to Matt at woodyboater.com though – once he saw them he loved the look and feel, especially the ones showing the real owners on their boats. He decided to use them as ads for his website in other magazines. The ads turned out great, so it was a win for everyone involved.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I’ve had a few hundred printed to send out – just this month in fact. Also shots from other personal projects, like my Track Racer series. I try to be very specific about what photos I send to who. I think some of these are better for editorial clients than commercial ones, but it depends.
I don’t know what Pokemon Go is, but I’m ok with it.
I’m happier behind a camera than in front of a computer.
I have a Cairn Terrier named Willy who thinks he’s six feet tall.
I live with the love of my life and her two daughters.
I’m never (completely) satisfied with my work.
I love food, especially meat, gluten, and refined sugar.
I don’t like slackers, parking tickets, or cold without snow.
Sometimes I’m a slacker.
I try to experience everything because life is short.
I can do it on my own, but I prefer to collaborate.
Bikes are practical works of art and I want to ride them all.
Making clients happy makes me happy.
I’m a happy guy.
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.