The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Randal Ford

I’m portrait artist at the core of my photography, so these animals are rooted in classical portraiture, inspired by the greats like Richard Avedon.

In order to capture these images, it’s important that all the groundwork be laid in advance. Meaning, I need to have communication with animal’s owner prior to the shoot to discuss what I’m aiming to achieve, which is typically a headshot showcasing the animal’s personality. As mentioned above, on set, I need to be ready and prepared to capture anything and everything that an animal may give me. Because sometimes I may only get one split second for that perfect portrait.

Obviously access to the animals is a challenge with a project as large as this. I’ve worked with rescue facilities, zoos, private animal owners, or farm working animals (i.e. horses, cows, chickens). So they come from a range of sources and I worked closely with a team of producers to find the right animals and went to great lengths to ensure those animals were living in a great environment and being treated with the utmost respect for their wellbeing. For example, the Cheetah on the back of the book was photographed at an amazing sanctuary called Cat Haven near Dunlap, CA and we are donating a portion of the proceeds to Cat Haven as a way to give back and create more awareness.

Some of the animals I shoot in a traditional studio with a painted Cyc and cover while others I shoot on location where I bring the lighting setup to them. Regardless, I utilize lighting to create a consistent, timeless aesthetic

Finally, not exactly a production or tactical note, but all the animals have names. And this is a very important part of the intention to connect with the audience. By including the animal’s name and story in the book, it further humanizes and heroicizes them to bring you further into their story. The descriptions and names for all the animals are included at the back of the book and at For examples, Highland Cow No. 1 is named Gertrude and The Young Lion with his mane growing in is named Jabari, which means brave. So by including the name, we are pushing the boundaries of the story and connection with the audience.


To see more of this project, click here.

To purchase the book, click here

(or other major bookstores)

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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram


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