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: Cameron Davidson
How long have you been shooting?
Professionally since 1980 – 34 years. I started shooting as a 10th grader with an Agfa Isolete I found in a closet.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mixture of both. I studied on my own through high school by constantly going through Modern and Popular Photography annuals and by studying the work of the photo gods of that era – Arnold Newman, Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas and Pete Turner. I also did the indentured servant route by working with several DC based photographers – the most notable being Ross Chapple, an exceptional architectural shooter who taught me how to light.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I have worked and shot in Haiti since 1999. I was on the board of the NGO Community Coalition for Haiti and shot many of their projects. The work I shot for CCH between 1999 and 2012 documentary in approach. This project was shot for a new NGO, Goals Beyond the Net and I wanted to slow my approach down. The goal was to stay in one place – the soccer field in Jacmel and shoot portraits of the players over four days. My goal was to take one lens, one strobe and one camera and keep it simple.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot the project in the summer of 2013. I started showing it that winter and was fortunate to place second in the portraiture contest for the National APA contest.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I pre-planned what and how I was going to shoot. I was committed to the project before I flew to Haiti and knew that it had to work.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I like it – it shows a different side of me. Many people think of me as an aerial photographer and I have always been more than that. I love shooting portraits and showing a personal project that shows a different approach to me is always a positive.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I do use Instagram and Twitter. Tumblr is the blog right now but that is getting ready to change when I launch my new web site this winter.
Instagram is only black and white images shot on the road or on assignments. Usually, behind the scenes pictures, found objects or views from helicopters. Twitter is a mix. Articles I found, links to stories about photography or web sites.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing has ever gone viral. I’ve seen quite a bit of my aerial work posted to the click-bait sites – you know they type – 25 most interesting aerials views of the world or 10 sites to see from the air. That type of site.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have. I printed with MagCloud, a retrospective of sorts. It was called 13 years, and it is available light portraits shot in Haiti for CCH.
The portraits in the Goals Beyond the Net project were shot over one week in Jacmel, Haiti in support of the NGO. The goal was to shoot portraits of young soccer players who are enrolled in the GBN program. I wanted clean and simple images without posturing that reflected the honesty and drive of these young players.
The images have been used to increase donations, as gifts to donors and for promotion for the NGO. I made prints of each person I photographed and send them to Jacmel. Two months later, I was given a box of handwritten letters – in French, Creole and English thanking me for the photographs.
Cameron Davidson’s passion for photography took root in his teens when he found an old Agfa Isolette camera at the bottom of his closet and began looking at life through a lens. It blossomed further, when he discovered the contours and contrasts of a world measured by altitude and sheer natural beauty from the rear cabin of a turbine helicopter.
For more than thirty years, Cameron developed the artistic skills that have helped him to become an acclaimed aerial, environmental, editorial, corporate, and fine art photographer. Simplicity and elegance make his work transcendent. He has photographed locations and people in 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 29 countries. His compelling aerial images of North American landscapes and cities have graced the pages of publications ranging from National Geographic to The Washington Post. His six books – Chesapeake; Washington DC from Above; Chicago from Above; A Moment of Silence: Arlington National Cemetery; Over Florida; and Our Nation’s Capital: An Aerial Portrait – embed character and personality into the grandest and simplest photos. His eye for the visual has opened boardroom doors to many premier corporate assignments, including annual reports, as well as high-profile editorial venues. A partial list of his clients include ESPN, Money, Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wired, Vanity Fair, AARP, Dominion Resources, General Dynamics, M&T Bank, Virginia Tourism, SEIU, Standard Life, and some of the top advertising agencies in the world.
Cameron has lived in Virginia, Texas, and Michigan. He now resides in the community of Alexandria in northern Virginia. Reach him at 703-845-0547 or via email.
Goals Beyond the Net: http://goalsbeyondthenet.org
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.