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: Marc Ohrem-Leclef
How long have you been shooting?
I have been actively photographing since the age of 16.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both – I taught myself most technical aspects, and then I studied Communication Design in Darmstadt, Germany. Those studies were more important in terms of learning about art-history and the formal education of the eye.
With OLYMPIC FAVELA, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Since the mid-nineties I have pursued work that focuses on portraits of communities, whether they are formed by blood-lines, social circumstance or cultural movement, all in context of the ideas of ‘place’ and ‘home’: Which elements play part in building the construct we call ‘home’ like landscape, communal and personal history, type and fabric of the surrounding community.
Based on these interests I wanted to examine what motivates the residents in 13 of Rio de Janeiro’s impoverished communities who are facing evictions from their homes to fight so hard to stay in their homes and communities.
The result are two bodies of work: One is a series of portraits of residents in front of their homes, many of the marked for demolition by Rio’s Housing Authority SMH with spray-paint.
The other is a series of performative images – here I directed the favela residents to pose for me holding emergency flares to create a visual representation of their struggle and resistance while using a gesture that is also universally associated with liberation, independence and celebration.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
It is an ongoing project – I started researching it in spring 2012.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
The decision making process is fairly fast – either it works or it doesn’t, for me and outside viewers. I tend to spend more time on research before I begin a project these days, and it’s working for me.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I do not think the difference should be too great, in terms of a sincere commitment to my subjects. Of course the settings are different. But if you don’t connect to the vision, whether it is based in reality or it is a carefully produced environment, the results won’t be satisfying.
I immerse myself in a certain environment to capture my subjects naturally.
In this respect the images of residents holding the torches are a new approach that allows both my subjects and me to take an active role in the making of the images.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
All the time .. it’s fun!
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
For OLYMPIC FAVELA it has certainly happened.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have, yes. I think it is important to strike a balance between showing personal work because it to inspire creatives. But of course you need to be able to satisfy the clients’ wish to see you can produce images in a production-setting as well … .
Marc Ohrem-Leclef was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, 1971. After working as an EMT and interning with a regional newspaper, Marc studied Communication Design at FH Darmstadt completing an extensive photography-thesis on life in rural Jamaica. Since the mid-nineties he is based in NYC. Marc’s work has been exhibited in Germany and the U.S., and has been published in numerous international publications, most recently OLYMPIC FAVELA, published in 2014 by DAMIANI/ARTbook.
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.