You probably hear a lot of photographers talk about embarking on a personal photography project. They might be in the midst of a slow time, or they might need to search for some new creativity. Regardless of the “why,” personal photography projects are not only a great way to get creative and learn new techniques — they’re also beneficial to your marketing as a photographer.
Why Start a Personal Project?
By deciding to do a personal project, you get an extra chance to get your photography shown to your audience. It lets you experiment with new techniques and new tools — things that you might end up applying to professional photoshoots, too.
How Will Personal Projects Help My Business?
As a corporate photographer, I have a certain style I go for with most of my client work. But a lot of my personal work is different, allowing me to focus on different elements and play around with new techniques.
I’ve had a handful of times where brands have reached out to me based on some personal work they’ve seen, rather than the professional work I show on my website. It might be as simple as a unique lighting technique, or a different type of post-processing. Even if I don’t apply these to my professional work, it can help me land the job, as it shows the potential client I have the ability to meet their needs, rather than sticking to one strict toolset of tricks.
What Types of Personal Projects Work Best?
A lot of photographers I know work on a 365 daily project, or even a 52 week project. While these might be fun, they aren’t as effective when you’re looking at the marketing benefits.
Instead, focus on a series of images. Spend two weeks photographing a certain way, whether that be using a certain lens, or an editing or lighting technique. It might even be the same genre of photography, allowing you to focus the same type of subject, but in completely different ways.
How Do I Show My Work?
There’s a few different effective ways to show off your personal project. The most obvious one is online — whether it be your blog or social media. Whatever you post, caption it. You might come up with a hashtag you use on social networks like Instagram, or you might write a paragraph or two about the series on your blog.
There are more traditional ways to show off your project as well. While my first personal project was entirely online, my second project was only available at my local Starbucks store. I hung six photos on the wall, surrounding the theme of “emotion” and showed it off. Business cards were made available at the front counter, and I spent time there a few times a week to engage with customers about my work.
That second project led to something I now offer to my clients — corporate lifestyle portraiture. Before that, all I ever photographed was food/drink and events. Being able to create engaging portraits for my project of working professionals, proved that I could successfully do so in a professional client setting.
Whatever project you might embark on, it’s important to keep learning. As photographers, our skillsets need to be constantly evolving. And if we can take what we learned and put a marketing spin on it, that will only benefit us in the future.
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Learn more about Bryan at bryanesler.com.
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