the value of personal projects

It’s been said many times how important personal work and personal projects are to your development as a photographer and as an artist.  In my transition from wedding photography to editorial and commercial photography, I’ve done a lot of personal work.  For me the benefit has been three-fold; personal development being the first and most obvious.  Secondly, I needed a portfolio!  Who would hire an editorial photographer based on wedding work?  (OK, so I’ve done one commercial shoot based off of my wedding work but just in case I figured I should probably have a non-wedding portfolio available).  Lastly, and what I thought was most important was developing and dialing in a signature style.  

The last part was the toughest and it didn’t come right away.  I did weddings for seven years and wasn’t until about year three that I discovered my style for shooting weddings.  To be completely honest, I wasn’t even the first one to identify the style!  I was talking with a coordinator during a lull at a wedding and she commented on my particular style.  “I have a particular style?”  I had no idea, but I was excited to know I had a style!  She was right and I embraced it.  I had been trying to define it for years and couldn’t (BTW, thank you Laura!).

Moving into the editorial and commercial world, I didn’t have three years to figure out what my style would be.  The wedding style was fine, and will work for lifestyle shoots, but I felt it wasn’t unique enough and that I could do so much more.  With that in mind, I started down the road of self-produced work.  

One thing I didn’t expect was the failures from doing self-produced work AND how much I’d learn from a shoot even though I didn’t love the finished image.  I really want to drive the point home, you can grow so much from doing self-produced work.  Just don’t lose the lesson.  More about that on the next post! 

I don’t necessarily love the images from this particular shoot but it was a great development opportunity.