As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.
Today’s featured photographer is: Shaina Fishman
How long have you been shooting?
I began photographing animals in 2005
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied commercial photography at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
There were different aspects to this project.
Mainly, I wanted to work with a stylist and do a project that incorporated accessories. To work with cats since there is so much attention on dog photography but very little on cats. Working with a rescue to bring awareness and attention to the work they do.
For this project I specifically wanted to work with a stylist and do something with an accessory. I reached out to a friend asking if she knew any stylists that are also animal lovers. She introduced me to Ryen Blaschke. Ryen, is a stylist that also volunteers with Brooklyn Animal Action (Ryen is female). I wasn’t specifically looking for someone that worked in rescue but it worked out serendipitously.
Ryen and I bounced different ideas and concepts off each other. She told me about some felt hats that she had created for fun for her own cat. She shared the images of her cat wearing the felt hats and I fell in love with the creations. We scrapped all the other ideas we had brainstormed and moved forward with doing cats in hats. This concept incorporated her craft and styling skills and my photography. Together we came up with a list of iconic hats that would be tolerated by the cats.
Working with rescue cats brought in the other element to this project which was helping the shelter to get cats adopted and bring awareness to cat rescue. I work with various rescue groups as a way to volunteer my time and talents and give to a good cause.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
The first shoot was in the spring of 2015. The first shoot didn’t go very smoothly and I wasn’t able to capture the images that I had envisioned. The cats didn’t cooperate, the hats didn’t fit, we were too pressed for time, etc.
We shot a second time and made some adjustments to make the shoot go smoother. It was a success and I was able to capture the bulk of the images in the series. We did a third shoot in January 2016 to add to the series. We plan on continuing the series as we have some more concepts we’d like to explore.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
After the first shoot I was a bit frustrated. The vision I had for the series wasn’t going to work. However, I loved the hats and the concept so I just had to adjust my vision of the project to be better suited for the situation (using kittens instead of cats, the shooting environment, the cats putting up with wearing the hats). After the second shoot was a success I knew it was worth exploring. I worked on (retouched) the second set of images and released them (the images on white). Only after that did I go back to the images from the first shoot and retouch them (Lobby boy, Heisenberg). I was able to get them to a point where I was happy with the images and they were closer to the original vision I had for the series. Those two images from the first shoot are a different direction, visually, than the rest of the series but I still love them.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I suppose I don’t see a difference between work for my portfolio and personal work. Although there are holes in my portfolio so I need to shoot some work specifically for my portfolio!
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post any and all work on social media. It’s a powerful tool. I post on Instagram, facebook, twitter and tumbler.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes, this series got some great press. The second shoot was toward the end of October and I decided that pushing this series with a Halloween angle might give it some traction. (Below I coped and pasted the press release) To name a few media outlets that ran a feature, Buzzfeed, Bored Panda, Daily Mail, Design Taxi, F stoppers, Metro World News, PetaPixel, The Dodo, and some international press
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
No, I have not done any printed marketing materials in a very long time.
Shaina Fishman has photographed wild lions in Kenya, street dogs in Peru, and stray cats in Jerusalem, and hopes to one day photograph penguins in Antarctica. She is a New York based commercial photographer specializing in capturing domestic animals both in studio and on location. She has experience on jobs of all sizes — from national ad campaigns to editorial and pro bono projects. Using a graphic and modern approach, Shaina’s images are playful, humorous, and personify her animal subjects.
Behind the lens from a young age she used the family pets—dogs, cats, hamsters, a salamander, and even a hawk—as her subjects. Her commercial photography career started in fashion photography but quickly transitioned into focusing solely on animals. Shaina currently live in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and their spunky papillon, Cosmo.
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 has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.
CATS IN HATS
Is your cat ready for Halloween?
Photography by Shaina Fishman
When Shaina Fishman and Ryen Blaschke were introduced they immediately decided to collaborate on a project to bring awareness to cat rescue. Shaina is a commercial photographer specializing in animals and Ryen is a fashion and wardrobe stylist. Both are actively involved in animal rescue and advocacy.
The two wanted to create a light-hearted series featuring rescue cats and kittens that are up for adoption. With so much exposure on dog rescue the two wanted to bring attention to the much-overlooked topic of cat rescue. Approximately 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters every year in the United States. Cats of all ages and breeds can be adopted through shelters. While brainstorming ideas Ryen shared some images of felt hats that she had created for fun for her own cat. Once Shaina saw the images of the hats, she was hooked on the concept and they got to work.
Customized hats were handmade by Ryen and then shot by Shaina on rescued cats from Brooklyn Animal Action, in the homes of volunteer’s fostering the cats. All cats, deserve a loving home and a ridiculous Halloween costume, don’t you think? The ongoing project encompasses popular hats such as the one worn by Pharrell at the Grammys and timeless pieces such as Robin hood’s woodsman hat.
Brooklyn Animal Action is a non-profit Brooklyn-based group of volunteers committed to improving the lives of animals in distress. Working with local communities, they facilitate Trap-Neuter-Return programs, find homes for adoptable animals, perform community outreach and education, and engage in advocacy. They have rehomed over 1000 cats as well as the occasional dog or pigeon. As an all-volunteer organization, BAA can’t do any of their life-saving work without the support of caring people like you. Please check out the Volunteer page to find out what you can do to help, or make a donation right now!