Whenever I’m speaking to a group of photographers (or any other artists for that matter) one of the things I talk about in my work is the importance of striving to maintain a balance between your art (or personal work) and the work you do for hire. This was one of the first lessons I learned from Marco Lorenzetti whom I assisted for about a million years ago. I’m not saying that it is actually possible to maintain a perfect balance between the two… but it’s something one should definitely strive for.
Here’s how I explain the dichotomy: commercial work is something working artists do on a nearly daily basis (I’m talking about people who support themselves with their art). Some see this daily grind as selling out, or drudgery compared to the pursuit of strictly “personal” work. I, however, see my commercial work as a way to hone my craft. My vision has become much more refined through the constant exercise of composing and lighting images for my clients. Collaborating with other artist (art directors and architects) has allowed this development to proceed exponentially faster than it could have in an isolated practice. It also certainly helps that my “job” requires the use of high-end tools that most fine artist could never afford. When I do focus on my own art work, I have wonderful tools at my disposal.
The balance I have found can best be described thusly: my commercial work has trained me to be a better artist and given me the tools so that that work becomes a joy to do. The fine art work keeps me moving in fresh directions. It feeds the soul and reinvigorates the work that I do for hire. While the two are often very different, both in subject matter and in aesthetics, they form a symbiosis that is a delicate and beautiful thing.
Below are the first few of a new series of personal work that I have just begun that is actually very closely aligned with a series of commercial work that I do for Cumberland Furniture. It has evolved from images that I have pursued under the art direction of Michael Barile, who has been a tremendously inspiring influence.