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:  John Dyer


           North American Indian Days is a yearly celebration of Indian ceremonial dancing that takes place in Browning, Montana, the headquarters of the Blackfeet Nation. It draws dancers from all over the western United States and Canada. It has been going on for many years. Except during the Covid pandemic. The celebration was cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

            I had been to the NAID twice before, once in 1987 and again in 2000. Both times I photographed the dancers using film. In the summer of 2022, I went again to photograph, this time using a digital camera. The celebration was billed as the “Recovery”.

            It was quite crowded. The tent where the dancing took place was too small and dimly lit and was not the best place to show off the incredibly beautiful, elaborate regalia (never call what the dancers wear a costume!). Nevertheless, the dancing took place and, as always, was accompanied by the drumming and singing…high, wailing male voices.  There are different categories of dancing: jingle dancers, grass dancers, traditional dancers, etc.

            My idea was to ask some of the dancers to allow me to photograph them. Most agreed, a few said no. Fortunately, near the tent was a ring of large tepees that gave me a somewhat neutral background to take my portraits. Otherwise, the background would have been a jumble of campers, cars, trucks, etc.

            I had a small notebook with me, and I took down the names of the dancers, their tribe affiliation, where they lived and their e-mail addresses. It’s my habit to always send the best shot of my subjects to them as a thank-you. I would also respectfully ask each if they would tell me their Indian name. Indians have an “English” name and many also have an “Indian” name that is given to them in a sacred ceremony.  I had been cautioned by a Blackfeet elder to tread lightly when asking for an Indian name. “It’s kind of personal,” she had said. Some told me their Indian names. Some didn’t. I decided not to include in my captions what Indian names I was given.

            The photographs here are what I think are my best.

To see more of this project, 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 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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