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.
Today’s featured photographer is: Grace Chon
Full disclosure Grace is one of my clients.
How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been photographing animals since early 2008.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am self taught but have a background as an advertising agency art director. I think that training definitely developed my visual and design sensibilities, and once I picked up photography it was a matter of learning the technical aspects of it.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
My baby! It’s funny because I really don’t have any interest in photographing kids or babies at all, but my own child was definitely my sole inspiration. As a new mom, the days can get long and repetitive sometimes. I started the series to have a fun activity for Jasper and I to enjoy during the day, and would edit the images during his nap time.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I began the series in January 2014 and started sharing them immediately on my personal Facebook page and on Instagram. I started getting interest from bloggers that wanted to write about the series but I didn’t know if I wanted to release it to a larger audience. By April I decided to promote the series a little bit and gave the go ahead to bloggers and the series took off online.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
This is probably the first personal project I really devoted some time to, mostly because it all took place in my home and was really easy for me to execute. I kept shooting them for myself before the series got exposure because I enjoyed the challenge of it – styling the images, editing the images, choosing the concept, and of course the challenge of shooting a baby and a dog! I imagine I would still be shooting the images even if they hadn’t received any exposure because it was working for me – I enjoy the process and the results.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
My usual work is portraiture or very lifestyle and shot in environment, so shooting this series has been really refreshing for me. I love that the Zoey and Jasper series looks vastly different than what I usually do and I love the simplicity and minimalism of it. But it still retains elements of what I always do – there’s a lot o color, and they are emotive portraits. I love capturing all the different smiles Jasper can make, and while Zoey looks the same in almost every shot there are small subtleties there that I love getting from her.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I started out sharing the images on Facebook and Instagram, and eventually made a Tumblr page dedicated to the series. Once the images started going viral they made their way over to Reddit.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
The images went viral in mid-April and were written about online and in print in the US as well as internationally.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I made print promos specifically for the Zoey and Jasper series and sent them out to potential clients. Hopefully someone somewhere saved one!
Grace Chon is a commercial photographer specializing in animals, lifestyle images, and celebrities with their pets. Utilizing her background as a former advertising agency art director, she creates modern and emotive portraits of people and animals.
When she’s not writing about herself in the third person, Grace likes to go hiking with her dogs, meditate, and grow organic heirloom tomatoes. She makes a mean guacamole (want to challenge her to a guac-off?) and really hates Comic Sans.
In her spare time, Grace photographs homeless dogs looking for their forever homes and donates her photography services every year to multiple dog rescue groups in Los Angeles. She lives in LA with her husband, baby boy, and their beloved rescue dogs, Maeby Fünke and Zoey.
Everyone knows dogs and babies make adorable photo subjects. As a first time mom and photographer, I had 2 of the most adorable models at my disposal and the Zoey and Jasper series was born. It has been my goal to create photographs that stayed away from the cloyingly sweet and cliché imagery you might expect when you think of dogs and kids. I love good design, color, and the unexpected. And most important of all, I love humor! I wanted to capture all of that and document the silly relationship between a rescue girl and her little boy.
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 founding 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 fed with helpful marketing information. Follow her@SuzanneSease.
Catch Suzanne presenting with Kat Dalager for Market Right 2014 in NYC on Wednesday, October 29th http://yodelist.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/were-proud-to-announce-market-right-2014