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: Pete Barrett
How long have you been shooting?
I started shooting on my own in 1995.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to school for photography but really learned the business by doing. I assisted for a few years and then did production work for a few years for some pretty high profile shooters. I learned a lot those years and folded that knowledge into what would become a pretty decent photo career.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The American Worker Project was actually a branch of another project I am working on. You see my wife suggested a few years back how great it would be to get an RV and travel all over the country and I could plan shoots wherever we go. The plan was to set out across the country and see as much as we can see and shoot everywhere we go stopping the journey periodically whenever work calls to hop on a plane and shoot whatever jobs we get, then pick up where we left off… I had lengthy discussions with my rep and others about what types of things I could shoot while on the road. Beyond the obvious subject of shooting in the many great locations we are going to travel to, what stood out more to me were the various interesting people we will meet along the way. I’ve always been interested finding out what people do for a living. Who they are and what they do. When you dig just a little, you find that people have pretty interesting stories and there are a ton of great visual stories to be told.
Well after what seemed like a year of planning we set out on our adventure back in September. So far it has been a whirlwind trip. Out of everything we are shooting The American Worker Project seems to be taking the forefront. The idea really resonates with people and I have a nonstop stream of people who are asking to be involved or are giving me suggestions that point me in the next direction to travel. I have never been busier than we are right now. Between shooting our travels and the people I meet and having to stop and fly out for actual jobs it has been a blur. We had to hit the pause button around the holidays just to make time to actually get caught up on a huge backlog of images that I need to edit, retouch and finish and start putting out there in front of people.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
We are really just getting started as I said before. But we are off to a great start. There is really no end of potential people we can shoot.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I’ve done personal projects in the past but none that has the legs that this one does. This one is working and shows no sign of stalling out. I could see myself exploring this for at least a year or maybe longer at the pace we are doing and perhaps producing a book and/or even doing some gallery shows with the finished series.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
This project in particular has been very freeing for me. While my normal lifestyle work is very loose and natural it still tends to feel like I have to shoot with a certain idea, subject or end client in mind, which can be somewhat restricting. With this project I have been thinking less about those things and really just concentrating on exploring the person and the environment before me and trying my best to tell their story. I have always found that when you let go and experiment, that is often times when you make some of your best work.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
In addition to showing my work on the normal channels of my sourcebooks, my website and blog, I also share on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Behance and LinkedIn. I’ve also got people working the phones a few times a month just reaching out to clients and trying to guide them to see the work.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I’ve never had it go viral per se but I have been able to get myself some great press in the past. Less for my personal work but more for some of the higher profile national advertising work we have shot. For this particular project as it seems to resonate with so many people, I’ve hired a publicist to assist me in getting the word out as well so we can hopefully create a more rounded story that will get picked up across social media platforms and get shared over and over.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’ve printed small runs and mailed them to targeted clients but never on a large scale like we do with my more commercial work. I will with this one though as we have so much to share. I will most likely do a series of small mini books featuring 4-5 people in each one and send them out every few months but still keep the print runs relatively small and only send out to select clients.
For nearly two decades award winning photographer Pete Barrett has created imagery for a virtual who’s who list of creatives, advertising agencies and clients on a national level. Pete’s work which spans the genres of people, lifestyle and sports lifestyle imagery is portrayed in a way that is timeless and captures real life moments in a way that is very natural and organic.
Growing up in the northeast, Pete was instilled early with a “whatever it takes” type of work ethic and a sharp witted sense of humor. Pete has a tireless, fun & creative energy about him and surrounds himself with like minded people. Regardless of the size of the production, large or small Pete and his crew apply the same meticulous attention to detail, service and creativity. This consistent level of high production value, and creativity that Pete and his team bring to every shoot, has resulted in many happy and loyal clients who repeatedly come back to work with him on many different shoots and campaigns throughout the years.
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.