Making time to do personal work is extremely important to me in my practice as a photographer. This is work that I do on projects that are of specific interest to me and which I might not be able to explore as a natural part of my day to day ‘paid for’ work. I undertake the projects because I love them and they have an immense value to me (and I hope others) in their own right. But I hope and intend that they also have knock-on benefits for my clients. Let me explain why.
They help me to get out of any photography ruts I may get into. A commercial photographer’s life is not (unfortunately) a constant smooth journey from one job to the next – each job coming just at the correct moment after the completion of the last. No – it can be a bit choppy out there. You might go a while without a substantial job and it’s easy to get demotivated and a bit disheartened. Having personal projects to complement my ‘paid for’ work helps me to keep sharp and enthused in the slower times, and keeps my skills honed. Sometimes, they even remind me again just why I love making photographs because they allow me to enjoy the process with a little less pressure and at my own pace.
They help me diversify my portfolio and (hopefully) attract new clients. Personal projects are in fact personal assignments – tasks I set myself where I am free to explore, get creative and challenge myself. My hope is that that freedom and creativity will attract new clients to me who find they love what I am doing in these projects, or for whom the projects spark ideas that we can collaborate on together.
They allow me to experiment and get out of my comfort zone. Given these are projects I set for myself, the results don’t have to conform to anyone else’s idea of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. That’s a great liberator! It means that I can experiment and improve my technique, push myself further and take some chances – just see what happens if…
I have a few projects ongoing at the moment but I thought I’d mention two. The first, People and Places – Images of Fakenham, is one I’ve been working on for almost a year but in my mind is still far from complete. It is a project that I’m lucky enough to have initially been commissioned with by Active Fakenham and it focuses on making environmental portraits of people who live and/or work in the town. It was the subject of an exhibition in Fakenham in August 2019 and has also featured in the EDP’s Norfolk Magazine. The latest image I’ve made for this project is of David Hunter, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at Fakenham Racecourse – this is the 28th image in the series but I’m hoping to make many more:
David Hunter, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course – Fakenham Racecourse
My second ongoing project is Fakenham Nights. This is a series of images of the town I now call home taken after dark. The series features almost no people and concentrates on the roads, buildings and environment of the town. Taken as they are at night, I hope that they give a jolt to how the town is normally seen. It’s a slightly more eerie, unexpected place with areas hidden and spaces that can’t readily be seen. I also feel that these images provide the town with a different sort of beauty. Again, it’s a project that I see continuing for a while – I’ve been making these photos for about 3 months but there are plenty more to do:
Oak Street – Fakenham Nights