Ian, from Timmins, ON, Canada writes:
“At the PFRE Conference in Las Vegas last year, Mike Kelley talked about how important his personal projects were to his career and his photography chops. I’ve been thinking of doing one for myself but I’m not convinced of the benefits. Am I missing something?”
Thanks for your question, Ian. I think that if you’re going to reject the idea of a personal project, out of hand, without really giving it a shot, then I think you may be throwing away an opportunity for adding an element of potential fulfillment in your life through your photography. As Mike said in his talk at the Las Vegas conference, one of the key benefits of a personal project is to retain your love of photography. What you shoot doesn’t matter, because one of the key benefits of doing a personal project is that it allows you to explore your creativity and take your mind off of shooting real estate every day (if that’s what you’re doing).
Beyond the fact that personal projects tend to remind you of your passion for photography, there are many other benefits to taking on such a project, including:
- It gives you a chance to experiment. A personal project allows you to spend a bunch of time trying new things and taking chances, which is something we don’t regularly have the luxury of doing in our day-to-day real estate shooting.
- It improves your skills. Building off the previous point, when you experiment with things, you’re learning new things; even if you fail, and actually, you’re probably learning more because you fail! I’d bet that much of what you learn can be transferable to your REP, which is likely going to help you become a better real estate shooter.
- It can make you more interesting to your clients. Many photographers open up a new gallery on their websites to show the results of their personal projects. This can have the added benefit of showing your clients a different aspect of you as a person and as a creative, which they might find intriguing.
- It can help develop relationships with other photographers. Posting your personal project work on social media forums might also spark a conversation or even a relationship with people that you might not otherwise have met. It might even lead to collaborations with others who share similar interests. A great example of this comes from Scott Hargis and Mike Kelley, who recently collaborated on a project driven by Covid-19. In short, they “documented the architecture of 'shelter in place' by using videoconferencing software to conduct remote photoshoots of people’s homes around the world.” To get a closer look at this wonderful project, click here.
- It can be therapeutic (especially NOW in these scary and uncertain times). Personally speaking, shooting stuff that’s just for me allows me to get out of the rat-race for an hour or two; and in that time, I’m having so much fun fiddling around with my subject matter, that all other concerns or stresses seem to melt away--it’s like a therapy session (and it doesn’t cost anything!)
Anyway Ian, I hope this has been helpful to you and that it inspires you to go out and shoot a personal project. If so, I hope that it brings you much satisfaction.
I’d love to hear about any of your personal projects and if you’d like to share, please add a link to your comment. It would be great to see!