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 advertise in LeBook. Check out his link at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Ryan Heffernan












Grape Harvest


How long have you been shooting?
9 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mix of both. I went the liberal arts route for undergrad but spent two seasons after working at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. I consider that time to be photography school. Growing up with a photographer father immersed me in that world from an early age as well.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Growing up in St. Helena, CA it was amazing to watch the valley transform into a massive production every harvest. I wanted to explore the contrast between wine as a luxury good and the hard labor that went on behind the scenes.

The project took me to Mendoza, Argentina and Tarija, Bolivia in addition to the Napa Valley.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Tough to say. I plan to continue shooting this project for many years to come, so it’s hard to define where they begin and end.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
It feels pretty similar in the end. I’m always trying to make the most interesting images possible.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, mostly Instagram although I’m not prolific.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I haven’t promoted them in print.

Born and raised in Northern California as the son of accomplished still-life photographer, Ryan was immersed in the world of photography and design from an early age. Today Heffernan is an advertising photographer and commercial director, based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico and San Francisco, California. He specializes in photographing people in their landscapes, aiming to tell unique stories and works for diverse clients ranging from Adobe Systems, UBS, Leo Burnett, The Martin Agency, and New Mexico Tourism to Outside Magazine, GQ, McGarrah Jessee and a host of others.

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.

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  1. Really loved this. The sweat and grime behind a glass of wine. I’m mulling a few personal projects in my head and would love to see a post or interview on the nuts and bolts of getting it together/producing it. That’s where I get stuck. Thanks!

  2. I really like this series – it tells a story as it should. I just started one myself and appreciate the process and need for shooting over time.

    Thank you for sharing this and good luck,

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