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: Tosca Radigonda
How long have you been shooting?
I took a photography class when I was 14 and never stopped. I started shooting editorial in Milan in the late 80’s and then commercially in The States in 1994.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a BFA from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I feel like my style evolved directly from my experiences in Italy. When I started out testing in Milan I did not have a budget to purchase or rent equipment, so I learned how to shoot everything using natural light.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I went to Milan when I was 22 with dreams of becoming a fashion photographer. It was a time before cell phones, or sharing images on social media and the world was a lot bigger back then. My ideas of Italy were from traditional postcard images or from my own Italian American upbringing. Once I got to Milan it was an entire other world! After navigating my way through the culture shock, and finally surrendering to Italian lifestyle I fell deeply in love with Italy. I thought I would stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 6 years. During my time living in Milan, and after when I would go back I found myself completely submerged in the feeling and charm of Italian lifestyle.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Seven years ago a close friend from Milan asked me to shoot a very personal cookbook she wrote about her family and that’s when I started to put together this project. I always loved the images but was unsure about how they would be received since my work is children’s lifestyle. I started out by including a few Italy images in my portfolio, and that was followed by people asking to see more.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Most of the time it is immediate, but I also love how shooting personal projects sometimes gives us the luxury we need to step back, revisit and really have a look.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
The subjects are different but the approach is the same. Either way, I like to be an engaged fly on the wall and photograph simple beauty. I started out shooting fashion the same way, which evolved into photographing babies and children, so I guess you never really know where a project might take you creatively.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I am a newcomer to social media, but I really enjoy Instagram and the loose feel of posting daily images.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
No my social media experience is still new but I can imagine that would be exciting.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I recently put together a handsewn book of the Italy images, and I love to share this book with art buyers and creatives after I show my portfolio. I usually ask if they have time and would like to see a personal project. I post the stories on my website, and send out emails when there is a new project.
The time I spent in Italy on my own as a young photographer, learning my way in challenging circumstances was the most valuable experience I ever could have had. I wanted the images in this project to convey the love, passion, and closeness I feel for this beautiful country.
Tosca’s rewarding experience began as a young photographer in Milan shooting fashion. Yet in a beautiful swirl of fate, an art director, sensing her ability to capture the magic of children, gave her an assignment that marked a dramatic turn in her career. Tosca is based in Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband and son.
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.