My personal work process is an incubator that lets me turn fringe ideas into compelling images. For the last year (for obvious reasons), it’s been on the back burner, but now that I’ve gotten the vaccine, there’s the freedom to be physically near each other and worry less about safety protocols. Upshot? It’s time to restart my personal work process.
I spent much of my pandemic retreat working on my screenwriting skills, taking classes, reading scripts, and working on my scribblings. Eager to get back into the swing of things, I’ve been brewing up some ideas and reaching out to collaborators. I’m working on ideas that have been sitting in the back of my mind, waiting. It’s all in the early stages, but I’m excited about the possibilities.
I got to thinking about why I do personal work, about the risk and the reward. The differences in short-term and long-term projects and the process of collaboration on art projects being different than commercial art projects.
When there’s a client, they are paying me to take their story…
—their words, sketches, brand statements—to create an image that tells their story. It’s a creative and fulfilling process, and the best clients work in a collaborative effort with me to create powerful images.
On a personal project, though, I’m the one that provides the original story idea and the one that has to interpret it. There’s a substantial shift in the weight of responsibility and corresponding artistic freedom that balances it out.
My personal work process starts with some variation of the question “what if…”.
What if I remove all the traditional elements of a sport and bring it into the studio, use minimal light and add unreal colors?
Or it could be way larger in scale – what if I created my own story world and populated it with characters? What would it look like?
I’ve never found myself to be the photographer that only does one thing and over. I need room to roam and the freedom to explore. Stills and moving images. Narrative stories and abstract shapes. Introspective portraits and stunning landscapes.
It’s about faces, shapes, or places, about moments in time or layering. But always always always it’s about the light, the first and last tool of the photographic artist.
I can build or destroy with light.
Connect or isolate. Go from happy to sad, morning to midnight. The light connects everything I do. Seeing the light that’s there. Shaping the light that I create. Light revealing the bones and structure of whatever story I’m making.
Personal work gives me freedom to take off in weird directions, to do things that don’t fit inside of whatever box I’m currently considered to be in. (Hey, aren’t you that guy that does all the ______________?)
Once the personal work is created and released, I hope the commercial work follows because getting paid is real nice. But I’m going to get paid for the commercial work, and it might be nothing more complicated than a really lovely environmental portrait, and that’s ok. Because I have Personal Work. Man, I’m looking forward to doing this! Come back and see what happens.
Andy is the artist-in-residence, owner, technologist, cook, brewer, and cocktail maker in chief at Andy Batt Studio. He loves to work with a good crew on complex projects and a good cup of coffee. No, a good cup of coffee— there’s a difference. On the side, he teaches lighting workshops because he likes giving back to his community.