The Art of the Personal Project: Adam Moran

- - Personal Project

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s artist: Adam Moran

Shaun White, Beyond the Medals

In 2008 I was working for Burton Snowboards as a Team Manager and was approached help manage Shaun White. Shaun had just won gold at the Torino Olympics and was at times labeled the most popular teenager in the world. I knew it would be an interesting job, but also one that would allow me to document what life is like for someone in his shoes. Shaun and I had known each other for a few years, but suddenly we were spending over 5 months a year traveling and working together. Having always been inspired by the lifestyle of the skate and snow scene that Ari Marcopolous shot, and Walter Ioss’s behind the scenes of Michael Jordan, I knew this was a really cool opportunity. I wanted to show moments from  Shaun’s life that were real and honest and different than what might be in the magazines or catalogs at the time.

What made these photos possible and special to me was that there was a huge trust between us, and it was a pre social media world. Myspace existed, but Facebook was only at colleges, and Instagram still far away so whatever we shot never felt rushed or needed to be posted immediately. Shaun could always see what I shot, and he liked that someone was there to shoot all the fun and behind the scenes moments. We never shot with the goal of getting likes, it was just to document, and we laughed a lot along the way.  I quickly learned that everything needed to be shot on small cameras like a Leica, or point and shoots as to not create a scene around a celebrity. That also that allowed me to sneak in moments that people weren’t realizing.   The goal was to shoot what was real, and never make it feel like a photoshoot. At times we created moments, but it was always out of fun.

It was a crazy time for Shaun, he went from being a 19 year old famous in action sports, to a globally recognized celebrity everywhere we went. I saw the ups and down sides of fame, but also got to be a fly on the wall documenting it with no specific end goal. We spent a little over 3 years together, traveling the world non stop, and many of these shots just piled up as we went along. I was there at events, press conferences,  photo shoots, test driving cars, buying houses, etc, all the time snapping away. Not until recently did I go back through the archives and pull this all together to find some of my favorites.  As I look back, it was an experience worthy of two lifetimes, and I’m glad there was no Facebook or Instagram around to have felt compelled to post on.

To see the full gallery on my website click here.


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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Suzanne Sease

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