The Power of Personal Projects – Sin & Salvation in Baptist Town

Sin and Salvation in Baptist Town, © Matt Eich

Sometimes a simple assignment turns into a multi-year photographic project. Just as Shawn Reeder spent years creating a visual essay embodying the vast beauty of Yosemite National Park, Virginia-based photographer Matt Eich spent years documenting the rural Mississippi neighborhood of Baptist Town. For some photographers, subjects that start as mere curiosities turn into longterm fascinations.

Established in the 1800s in conjunction with the growth of the local cotton industry, Baptist Town is one of Greenwood, Mississippi’s oldest African American neighborhoods.

Eich initially focused his attention on Baptist Town, but then launched into a second chapter of the project about the adjacent area of Greenwood. His goal is to display the resulting images in both communities in an effort to actively engage residents in a dialogue about improving the lives of their neighbors. Eich explains, “These communities are separated by distrust and a history of exploitation. By visually introducing neighbors to one another in an …

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Best Business Practices – Part 5

Photo by Will Jacks

Spring is here, so we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn tips and tricks that will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they partner with advisors and trainers who help them stay organized! This week’s featured ACE is Will Jacks, a guy who grew up wanting  to play centerfield for the St. Louis Cardinals, but wound up preserving wonderful moments as a photographer. As he says, “I deal in happiness, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Q. What’s your primary area of photography and when did you start shooting full-time?

Will: I began my career as a photographer in 1997. I didn’t know what type of work I wanted to do. I only knew that I wanted to be creative, be my own boss, and develop a body of work …

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“Range of Light” – The Power of Personal Projects in Timelapse!

Imagine spending years on a personal project.

That’s exactly what photographer Shawn Reeder did to produce his spectacular time lapse film featuring the grand wonders of Yosemite National Park. A true example of patience, persistence and passion, Reeder’s five-minute film is composed of nearly 7,000 unique photographs.

Expansive, explosive, energetic and enlightening are all words that leap to mind when viewing Reeder’s “Range of Light.” In fact, it’s less about viewing and more about experiencing.

By examining Yosemite in such deep detail, with each changing glint of light or hint of shade, Reeder produced a visual poem. It’s appropriate that the film’s title ties in John Muir’s legacy. Each individual photograph in Reeder’s film, strung together masterfully, completely conveys Muir’s sentiments,

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of …

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The Power of Personal Projects – Part III

The question deserves to be asked again: Are you balancing work that fills your bank account with work that fills your soul?

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 …

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