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:  Jay Fram

Tahlequah is a small town in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. It’s in the northeast corner of the state, with rolling hills and lush greenery, and it’s where I grew up. Earlier this year, I leveraged my personal history there to land a job to produce a “rural America” image library for a major telecommunications company. I was really excited to produce this high-level project in Tahlequah, to feature the people and places of my hometown and bring some economic benefit to the area. I assembled a crew and hired a local to help me connect with potential subjects, but a few weeks prior to the shoot date the client killed the project. I was disappointed but decided to take advantage of all the time and effort invested by shooting it anyway, as a personal project.

I set out to document the land and the people of my hometown as a sort of straightforward homecoming, but I found myself unable to ignore the political and geographic polarizations that are so prominent in our country in this moment. They’re nothing new for me – as a kid with country roots living in big progressive cities for the past thirty years, I’ve often felt a tension between my love for the land and family friends of my hometown, and my desire to create some distance from it. I felt pulled to make some sort of statement about that tension through this work, and indeed there were some captures in the first edits of this series that carried a more cynical gaze. In the end, though, that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.

Instead, what I found myself making was a tender reminiscence: a portrait of generous people and hard work in a rural part of middle America, the close heaviness of heat and humidity, undergrowth, weeds, open spaces, tradition. Rather than an uncritical celebration or a caricature of rural America, I wanted to hone this project to give a sense of how it feels to actually live there, from someone who can honestly say, “I grew up just down the road.”

Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Three Springs Ranch organic farm owned by Mike and Emily Oakley in Rocky Ford, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Three Springs Ranch organic farm owned by Mike and Emily Oakley in Rocky Ford, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Family owned logging company Denton Timber on job site near Proctor, Oklahoma.
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma

To see more of this project, click here

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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 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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