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:  Tony Novak –Clifford

Rising Tides: A Photographic Rediscovery of the Tidewater Region of the Chesapeake Bay

My earliest, fondest childhood memories are of water. Lakes, ponds, great marshes, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean were my playgrounds and constant companions. It wasn’t long after I was old enough to venture out of sight on my own that I was whiling away the hours of hot, humid summer days under the shade of giant Beech trees dropping a bobber and hook, baited with bread balls, into the tea-colored water of the nearby Tony Tank Lake, angling for unfortunate crappies, sunfish and the occasional mud turtle.

In the warm summer months, I mowed lawns to make a little money. With that money, one of the first major purchases I ever made was an aluminum, flat-bottomed “john” boat. A neighbor donated an old two horsepower outboard motor to the cause. Suddenly I found a freedom I have never before known. The river became my highway to adventure, exploring its many creeks and tributaries searching for ducks, turtles, eagles and osprey, muskrats and the occasional elusive river otter.  As we grew older and our boats and motors became larger, we spent entire days water-skiing and venturing further up river to it’s source… the Chesapeake Bay.

In the evenings, we caught fireflies or, as the locals call them, “Lightnin’ Bugs” in the slow, lazy dialect of the region. We rode our bicycles or kicked soccer balls around in the darkness, illuminated only by the warm pool of light provided by the street light at the end of the cul-de-sac.

The Atlantic Ocean and the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland were half an hour’s drive away. As a child, my parents would pack picnic lunches, pile towels, coolers and umbrellas into our station wagon. A giddy sense of excitement rose amongst myself and my brother and sisters as we would cross the bridge over Assawoman Bay and enter the resort town. Here we would while away the day building sand castles or burying each other in the fine, white sand, digging for sand crabs, splashing and body-surfing in the gentle waves. Occasionally, my parents would reward us with an early evening trip to Ocean City’s famous boardwalk where the flashing lights of game arcades, carnival rides and ice cream, caramel popcorn and buckets of steaming french fries drowned in salt and vinegar would delight us to the point of exhaustion.

Life as a child in Maryland’s tidewater region was as idyllic as any Mark Twain novel.  There were great forests of pine and hardwood to explore. There was an abundance of wildlife… from almost every manner of waterfowl to reptiles, amphibians, agile deer, soaring eagles, raccoons, opossum, squirrels & fish. We feasted on the meaty blue crabs, oysters, clams and rockfish of the region. Wild game in the forms of duck, geese and venison, often gifted to my father by patients who worked the fields and waterways for a living, would often find it’s way to our table. We picked wild blackberries from their thorny stems and wild chestnuts from the tree at the end of the road. Fields of watermelon, corn and soybeans stretched out to touch the horizon.

As a child, it was easy to dismiss life in the tidal region as boring and unsophisticated. During my time there, it was all I knew. It has only been during the past several years that I have bothered to return to the Chesapeake’s Tidewater region with fresh eyes and a new appreciation for the simple lifestyle, folksy charm, historic relevance and southern hospitality and friendliness. With family still residing in the area, I have been returning annually and even several times a year to spend time and reknit those bonds. There are times when I think I could return here to live.

Life is simpler here.

The photographs contained in the collection are wistful snapshots of my rediscovered romance for this land of water. My longing for it ebbs and flows like the tides. These are glimpses of the life I once lived, perhaps still live, or at the very least, a life I still carry with me no matter where I find myself.


To see more of this project, click here.

Contact him 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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.


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