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: Zave Smith
How long have you been shooting?
I have been a professional photographer all my adult life.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to a very unique school that unfortunately did not survive very long, The Milwaukee Center for Photography. It was a very hard, very in-depth program. I was there two years and then did two years and graduated from The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design with a degree in Photography and Print Making.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The Philly Music Makers has two strong roots. I have photographed a couple of events where I set up a white seamless studio and shot a 30-75 B&W portraits of the attendees over a couple of hours. I then took those portraits and did a video mash-up.
I have also had been thinking of shooting musicians portraits in backstage in the ready or green rooms.
About two months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine, Ron Bauman. Ron has deep ties with the Philly music scene. We somehow combined the dressing room portrait idea with the shooting speed and style of the white seamless event work and decided that it would be cool create a video mash-up of Philly area musicians. That is how that project started.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I have been sharing the work as I go. Each time we do a shoot, we add these new portraits to our gallery. We are presently doing one to two shoots each month where we shoot 10-20 portraits.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
For the last decade, all my personal projects have been of the one or two shoot variety. The Philly Music Makers is the first project that is going to go on for a while. I am just having a lot of fun with it and finding it fascinating from a sociological and aesthetic perspective. Two currents have got me jazzed. One, how do you create 10-20 interesting portraits in one green room the size of a small child’s bedroom in the space of a couple of hours and two, why do people do what they do? Why is music so important to us as a species?
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
In my mind, commercial art is all about the answers, “ our butt cream will make your life better.” Whereas fine art, and I think that personal work has the same motivated as fine art, is all about questions. I find that questions are a lot more interesting than answers.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
For me, personal work is all about communicating. Today that means Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet but this project is starting to get buzz.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I just used one of the photos from the Music Makers on a postcard promotion.
Exuberant and poignant, philosophical and passionate, Zave Smith’s photographs capture the tangible pleasures and tactile experiences of life. Zave has a special feeling for personality that suffuses his work.
Bristol Meyer Squibb
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.