My name is Neil Binkley. I started The Personal Photography Project because, years after running an award-winning photographer's studio, then co-founding a photographer's agency of 100's of photographers around the world, plus consulting photographers to this day on their portfolios and business — I keep coming back to this idea...
What a photographer shoots as their "personal work" ("portfolio project", etc.) is often what serves them the best in both their career and their artistic exploration.
Over the past 20 years, I would ask a photographer about a certain image or series of photos in their portfolio that stood out to me. Sometimes they'd sheepishly reply, "Oh, it's just for my portfolio."
And yet this work "just" stood out to me, again and again. Not only that, but their personal work was winning them awards in photo annuals, AND often gave creatives a chance to see what this photographer could accomplish without any outside creative direction. It allowed their clients to see them more as a creative partner, instead of just a button pusher.
Being a series of images, these projects show photo editors how this photographer could carry out a longer cover article. It also gives art producers or creative directors the confidence to hire the photographer to create a full campaign. Because seeing a project in its entirety gives creatives the comfort that the work is not just a "lucky", one-off image.
If you've shown your portfolio lately too, it's what creatives are asking for: they WANT to see your personal work. They are literally asking photographers to show this different side of their talents.
Part of this is that it shows your ability to be a creative partner, and another is that creatives are increasingly wanting ideas that are "authentic", show "storytelling", and that are not carbon copies of what they've seen before. A brand or magazine is better served by breathing fresh air into their ad campaign or editorial content. Let's say a city magazine is looking for a new way to show their city: what better way than by tapping into unique stories that they've never considered?
Speaking of which: I originally conceived of The Personal Photography Project out of an actual need of my own: I was being onboarded as the Director of Photography for Philadelphia Magazine, and I was trying to figure out ways of coming up with new perspectives on the city. Having helped photographers edit their websites — including their personal project galleries — I knew that there was a wellspring of interesting projects that photographers were doing about the Philadelphia area, its people and activities.
Their Design Director was excited by the idea that I came up with: to create a database of projects that had already been shot. For one, this would allow the magazine to visually test-drive ideas that were already complete, making it easier to pitch a story to the editors. Editors who are hungry to come up with original stories about the city.
So the work could either be used for stock, OR they could hire the photographer to expand on the project.
Equally important: they could also assign the photographer a completely new assignment, now that they knew their potential. Plus, the database could introduce some photographers to the magazine for the first time, or remind the photo editors of photographers who'd shot for them in the past — and maybe hadn't worked for them in a while.
I also realized that, until now, there has not been this kind of public archive that focuses solely on personal work by magazine, advertising, and fine art photographers. Some online sourcebooks for photographers will only show a shot or two from each personal project: on The Personal Photography Project ("TPPP" for short), you get to show them all!
Also, importantly: photographers are often told that their work needs to look like it was shot by the same photographer, and must be cohesive. While this can be true, we hope that TPPP will allow you the freedom to share work that shows a different side of your creative strengths and interests — and perhaps even open new avenues for your growth as an artist and business owner.
For example: maybe you're known as a tabletop/still-life advertising photographer, but you have a personal project about a loved one going through a terminal medical disease. Maybe you shot it in more of a documentary style, which doesn't fit the "look" of your commercial website. And yet: this project is important to you AND shows another photographic style of yours which you haven't been comfortable showing elsewhere.
TPPP’s main goal is to introduce your work (and you) to the world, in addition to expanding your career: through better-paying, more creative shoots, and also potentially selling it as fine art. I want you to get paid for all of the time that you've put into your personal projects, which hopefully are the shoots that you do for the love of it, anyway.
We are excited to share your photography — in a growing number of ways — with Art Producers, Photo Editors, Curators, and others who hire photographers or use photography for: advertising, magazines/publishing, brands, the fine art world, and more. Here's how...
Our goal is to spread the word about The Personal Photography Project — and our individual photographers' projects — in as many smart and non-obnoxious ways as possible. We encourage art producers and photo editors to reach out with stock photo requests, and to look to us as a partner for sourcing stories (and photographers) that they haven't found elsewhere. We'll even reach out to you with these requests (assuming you're interested), whenever appropriate.
Creatives can also find your work through:
We also ask you for these additional project details, which we display on every project's page:
Every photographer gets their own public Profile page, as well. So when we promote them (digitally, in-print, or otherwise), we can send potential clients to a page that shows all of your personal projects — then allows them to contact you directly to discuss hiring you or licensing your images.
If you have an agent or gallerist you'd rather they contact, you can add that information on your profile. Your Profile also can include: your location (in case they need to hire someone regionally), your bio, awards you've won, client list, social media links, and gallery shows (if any of these don't apply, don't worry).
If a project is out of your league, or you just need an additional eye on a stock photo price or a full-blown advertising estimate, we have freelance art producers at the ready to help you present yourself in the best light. If you win the project, our producers can even be on-set during the actual shoot — which in this era of COVID is particularly useful.
Looking for ideas for future projects? Drop us a line and we'll be glad to help out. We also want to build a community within our members, in case they need advice, inspiration, or perspective from their peers.