Every year since I launched my photography business, I’ve carved out time to pursue a personal project. It’s a part of my art that has helped me flourish as an artist, a person and as a business owner. Ranging from a large project that took over 2 years to complete and culminated with a gallery show to a small project I completed in 15 days with iPhone only pictures, each personal project has existed solely to help me create work that speaks to my heart and show the world the space I was in at the time.
Personal projects are exactly what they say: personal. They exist to give you a channel to explore parts of WHO you are and WHAT interests you with only parameters you set for yourself. With no money or time pressures and no voices of others in your head, they give you permission to make something that sings…to you.
In 2013, inspired by our daughter’s 5 year adoption anniversary I created a personal image titled “The Clothes She Came To Us In” to celebrate her and honor her story. The image generated a huge buzz and launched my 2013-2014 personal project. Over the course of a year and half, I photographed 30 children who had been internationally adopted with the clothes they came in. The project culminated with a month long gallery show exhibiting the images I made and the poems I wrote about each child. The morning after the opening of the show, I stood in the gallery and reflected on the magnitude of what I had accomplished, simply by saying “I have an idea.” That simple idea turned into one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, a project that was 100% mine and taught me the power of my gift of listening and help me realize I was not only a photographer, I was a poet too.
In the Fall of 2015, I began to feel overwhelmed with the workload in my calendar. As much as I love photographing the children and their families I have the honor of listening to, I started to feel a bit lost. So, I decided to shoot one image a day for 15 days on my iPhone and write a simple poem. I posted the image and the poem each day on instagram with the hashtag #thelittlethingsiseeremindmeofme, helping me focus on WHO I am and not get lost in the shuffle of my busy season. Once the 15 days was complete, I made an Artifact Uprising 8×8 book of the images and the poems, a tangible reminder: I matter.
I encourage you, if you’ve never tried a personal project to challenge yourself to try it!
In fact, here’s my top three reasons why personal projects are so awesome:
1. Work begets work: with each personal project I’ve done, I’ve gained new clients, new connections, new followers and new income just from sharing my personal work because when people see into your heart, they want more of that…
2. Improving your craft: personal projects are a great way to pick one area of your craft you’d like to improve upon and work on it until you’ve mastered that skill!
3. Self discovery: personal projects are a great way to help you explore a topic that interests you, celebrate a part of yourself you are proud of, heal a part of yourself that needs some love or even help you realize what matters most to you.
In fact, I’d love to hear your ideas and your triumphs as you pursue your own personal project, so please reach out to me via Facebook, Instagram, Email…I’d love to listen to what your heart has to say.
I’m Jane and I believe every child can be heard. Even the inner child inside you.
Through my gift of being hearing impaired and my training as a speech therapist, I have learned to communicate just like children do…with and without words. It’s my super power.
I am listener who happens to photograph. Every time I pick up my camera, I am showing you that what you have to say means something to the world.
Jane’s work has been featured on several photography blogs including Inspire Me Baby.com, Life and Lens Blog as well as Let the Kids Dress Themselves. She was chosen as Denim & Grace magazine’s “Child and Family Photographer” of the year for 2013. She has also exhibited her work at her own solo gallery show titled “The Clothes They Came To Us In” at Studio B in Boyertown, PA. She speaks frequently to photographers and parents about the art of listening.
The Photo Life is proud to feature this Inspire Photo Retreats Alumni Series.
Jane spoke at last year’s Inspire on “Photographing Children: Listening to Who They Are” and reflects on her experience in this post.
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