The Art of the Personal Project: Matt Odom

- - Personal Project

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 Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Matt Odom

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How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been shooting for eight years. I started shooting after being laid off of my old job in television and experienced a close family member’s death. I used photography as a way to alleviate the pain. I had always wanted to shoot but I didn’t have resources to get a camera when I was younger because I just couldn’t afford one.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

I’m completely self- taught. I come from the school of YouTube and Books. I read, read, and read some more to get the technical aspects down. I used to gobble up every YouTube video I could find on lighting. For business I searched for podcasts and listened to anything that had to do with the business and marketing for photographers. As I grew in photography I began to follow photographers like Miller Mobley, Jeremy Cowart, Tim Tadder, Tom Hussey, Joe McNally, Seth Hancock (who I owe a lot of this to), Jeffery Salters, and Derek Blanks. I just studied their work and deconstructed their lighting and went from there. I almost did art school at UGA but having already graduated from a private university I didn’t want to incur any more debt. To me this is a constant learning process and I strive to improve all the time. You are only as good as that last photo!

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?

As a child I used to be mystified by huge exotic animals and I drive by a local taxidermy almost every other day. I decided that I wanted to spend half a day with a taxidermist and photograph the way the work. I felt that it presented such a weird art form they we aren’t used to seeing on an everyday basis.

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

This was one of my shortest projects it took about two months to get everything narrowed down. I’m in progress of doing a BBQ Project and that is more than likely going to be a year and a half in the making. 

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?

I’m pretty nitpicky, so it varies on if I feel the project is something unique and provides the viewer with a perspective that they have not taken when looking at the subject matter.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?

Personal work allows for full creativity and the opportunity to put your touch on something that you just can’t get on some commissioned jobs.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?

I have just become a huge blogger and I am always posting personal work to Tumblr. A lot of my photographer friends talked me into instagram and I’ll admit it’s pretty addictive normally I post a lot of behind the scenes stuff on there. I love the exposure that comes with social media!

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?

Haven’t had that experience just yet! I will say that my Taxidermist project has began to pick up steam. The Kings of the Rings project is another one that has become pretty popular too.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?

I actually just printed a small booklet of my Taxidermist project to go out in a few weeks to art directors, editors, and potential clients.
I received my copy and absolutely love it. Nothing beats seeing your work in print.

Artist Statement:

The Taxidermist project was done to provide people with an inside view of the hard work and art that goes into creating these larger than life replicas of nature’s most graceful and sometimes dangerous creatures.


Matt is an award-winning editorial portrait, commercial, sports photographer out of a town just a few minutes south of Atlanta called: Macon, Georgia. He holds a Bachelors Degree from Mercer University. Back in the day, he tried his hand in television as a commercial TV producer and sports TV reporter. During that time there he shot local news and a little photography (he stuck with the later). When he’s not on assignment, he’s more than likely watching his favorite soccer team Arsenal Football Club, coaching soccer or listening to jazz.

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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Suzanne Sease

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