The Power of the Personal project part 1- Grant Scott

The motivation for doing personal projects

Grants Scott’s Book is becoming a delight to read and I am enticed to read the whole work. But this reflection is limited to the section about personal projects and specifically the reasons for doing a personal project.


Motivation 1: “Through the creation of personal work we can explore the concept of developing our personal language, while telling the stories that most interest us, using our life experiences to inform our creativity” because “The only difference between one photographer and another is the individual life experiences that shape the photographer’s unique personality and the way in which they see the world” and it has to be developed through hard work, understanding, and original thought. (Scott,  2014, p83)

Motivation 2 “This is why the creation of personal work cannot be ignored by photographers and is demanded by their clients, looking for a reason to commission. (Scott, 2014, p83)”

Motivation 3: “As we start to see photography as a career path, so the expectation of financial recompense for our labours becomes greater until it can become our sole motivation for lifting our cameras to our eyes. At this point, personal creativity can reach a photographic dead end… Personal work keeps you connected with why you first fell in love with photography” (Scott, 2014, p83). “

My reflection:

After many years in the industry, I believe I have developed my own personal language but it has been convoluted with the many other influences and pressures I have been subjected to within the wedding photography business. I am convinced that doing a personal project for myself without those influences will be able to extract me from that confusion. A path which in the past I was reluctant to share. I am now confidently going to pursue that work without any regard if I can make money, impress a professor, tutor or other photographers. Like all of us, I need I am a bit of a pretender playing to the demands and views of others, and not allowing myself to without influence discover myself in my photography. I have come to the belief that I will then emerge from this confusion being to offer a unique me to this ubiquitous and over-saturated world of photography.

Even as a part-time professional I have reached a point where I was no longer motivated enough to carry on photographing weddings and portraits. It was no longer fun and I could see the stagnation of my visual interpretations. I even had the experience of my work drying up, mostly because I disengaged. The personal project was never identified as a way out of this and trying to get inspired and to “lift” my photography I purchase Tom Ang’s Masterclass, where he challenged me to do assignments after each section in his book. He also encouraged his reader to do research before carrying out your assignment to look at how other photography masters and students approached the assignment, giving me structure and furthermore encourage you to find your own way to do these assignments. This book became the motivation and syllabus for my courses as I wanted to share this new-found knowledge with amateur photographers that either never got launched or stagnated. My first love and passion for photography returned and put me on a path of rediscovering my creativity and personal language. Scott’s essay brings perspective to that approach and, in conjunction with the MA is guiding me to seek personal assignments/projects to grow myself using my life experience and passions.

The interviews with Yvette Pang in week 1, Gem Thatcher in week 2 and Felicity McCabe this week, reaffirmed the importance of the personal project and its part in getting commissions for professional work that you can feel passionate about. The clients are looking for it! Corporate and domestic.

I am convinced that if I follow this advice I will, in time, no longer need to do menial and repetitive work to earn a living wage from photography. Making the personal project part of my business plan, not merely trying to get me motivated, will open this new avenue of expression I am seeking. I would love it if my personal assignments can become as exciting as my personal projects and culminate in find commissioners that will state: “Just do it your way, its why we commissioned you!”


Scott, G 2014, Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained, Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [18 October 2019].

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