In the first two posts in this series, we heard firsthand from Dan Milnor and Dave Wittig about the power of personal projects. In Dan’s case, a desire to pursue personal projects changed the trajectory of his career. Dave, on the other hand, discovered how personal portrait projects infuse his commissioned wedding work with passion and insight.
If you’re facing burnout, boredom or just a nagging feeling of “stuckness,” then maybe you need to embark on a personal project?
So how do you start?
First, you’ll need an idea. What interests you? What challenges you? What inspires you? What enrages you? Seek stories or subjects that make you feel something, preferably something personal. The more invested you are in a project, the better it will be.
Speaking of investment, how will you fund your project? If you’re determined to document mountain communities in rural Peru, for example, your travel expenses could get pricey! The truth is, any project will require some funding. Whether you choose to self-fund your project, or pursue outside funding, here are a few resources to guide you:
- Kickstarter: the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, Kickstarter is a tool to crowd-fund creative projects. There are pro’s and con’s to using Kickstarter to raise funds, which you can learn all about HERE.
- Emphas.is: specifically focused on visual journalism, Emphas.is also enable photographers to crowd-fund their projects, in exchange for your participation and communication with your “backers.”
- Self-Assignment: an inspiring platform for photographers to share their personal projects and testimonials about why they enjoy creating independent work.
- BURN Magazine: acclaimed Magnum photojournalist David Alan Harvey created this online magazine and workshop series to showcase his personal work and support colleagues, fans and followers as they create their own work.
- Grants from various groups, companies and organizations are available for photographers seeking funding.
- Each year at the Rebirth Retreat, visual artists gather to push the boundaries and each other to create meaningful personal work. Sometimes, it’s a story, sometimes it’s just a fun exploration. Regardless, this annual event in the Mississippi Delta is a chance to convene a community of artists to build an environment that allows each attendee to be as creative as possible. Will Jacks describes it best, “Creativity is not something that you can ignore. It must be nourished and fostered and given room to grow. At times it should be questioned, and at others it should be left alone and allowed to lead it’s creator wherever it may lead.” Check out these behind-the-scenes images from Rebirth and get inspired to create.
But the idea is just the beginning. An unexecuted project idea is like undeveloped film; there might be magic but you won’t know if you don’t develop it!
As Thomas Edison said, genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
So, what are you waiting for?