The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find. Please DO NOT send me your work. I do not take submissions.
NOTE: This is on-going personal project I have featured before as it is so wonderful to see the project continue to grow with this extraordinary group of retirees.
I have been returning to take photos of the residents of Sun City, Arizona, an age-restricted community of 40,000 retirees, since December 2009 now. When Sun City first opened in 1960, it was the first place of its kind–a place for people who had spent their lives working and raising children to move to with the intention of playing and learning and socializing. It offered a new way to grow old. I love this idea of being more intentional with our time, exploring what makes us feel good, and looking forward to life in our later years.
Until last month, my last trip to Sun City was for National Geographic as I photographed and interviewed residents during COVID lockdown in the late summer of 2020. In December of 2021, I decided it was time for me to go back again to see how life had picked back up once residents were vaccinated and the more than 100 clubs had opened back up. This trip, I focused the majority of my time documenting the Sun City Poms—a granny cheerleading squad whose ages range from 59 to 89. I followed the women through a parade rehearsal, their annual holiday luncheon and party, and then as Mary, who is 80 and the current longest member of the Poms at 21 years, got dressed in her sequined uniform, then to a holiday parade, and a performance for a 100 year old’s birthday at a VFW.
While I am always grateful and excited to be taking photos for my editorial and advertising clients, so much of the past two years has been fraught–COVID testing, masking, prioritizing photography outdoors when possible–this has indeed offered beautiful glimpses into life right now, but it has felt more distanced than I’d like. I’ve felt more disconnected from the people I get to photograph and this trip back to Sun City reminded me so much of why I love what I do–I love listening to and connecting and creating with people. Essentially, I sent myself back to Sun City in December to capture joy and community and I found it there while photographing these amazing women. It felt healing in a way.
I hope to make my ongoing personal project on retirement in Sun City into a book in the future.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease. Instagram
Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it. And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.