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February 9th, 2009

It’s never too late to start a personal project 2

Posted by Greg Gibson

After decades shooting for wire agencies and almost as long shooting weddings, Pulitzer Prizer-winning photojournalist Greg Gibson finally got around to his first personal project, which has given him new energy and creativity in his work. Check out his first post too, about how the project (unexpectedly) developed.

In August our routine was to get up around 5am and to be in place with the cowboys at first light. We basically tried to shoot and illustrate various things the cowboys were doing. Working with the horse, herding the cows, etc. We would shoot until about 10am as it gets very hot in the middle of the day. The cowboys don’t do much outdoor work during the heat of the day. During lunch we would download cards or review images. At 3pm we were back out with the cowboys for that late afternoon sun.

It was a breath of fresh air to get out and make this kind of storytelling imagery again. It reminded me of the things I loved about journalism and why I stayed in journalism for so long. I felt like I had found my roots again and re-awakened a deep passion inside me. I loved every minute of it.

The trip has reinforced in my mind how important personal project are to photographers and other creative people. There has to be a certain amount of work to pay the bills, but you have to find some time to keep the creative fire burning inside. I always knew it was important to do personal projects, I just never found the time to fit them in. I had sort of reached that point in my life where I worked to live, not live to work. I had stopped looking for projects like this. I’m so glad that Duda connected me with Izan and we have been able to spend this time working on this project.

As a result I have taken a new energy and creativity into my weekly wedding work. It’s very easy to fall into a rut in anything you do. I don’t think I had reached that point in my wedding photography but I could feel that I needed a new creative challenge. I think that I did some of my best wedding work ever this past fall, much as a result of my experiences and creative recharging in Brazil. In fact, one wedding in particular is one of the best I’ve ever done. It was for photographer Justine Ungaro. We’ve put up some pictures from this wedding on our blog along with a slideshow. You can also see more of my images from The Pantanal here, here, and here.

The other side is that you can always learn from other photographers. I’m 46 years-old and I have had a very diverse and successful career. However I still keep my eyes open for new approaches and ideas. I learned a lot from working with Izan. He has a very different way of seeing. He is very aware of color and texture. His images are often very abstract and artsy. It is a very different approach from much of the straight-forward documentary photography I have been accustomed to. It was a refreshing viewpoint to see, and I have tried to integrate some of the things I learned from Izan into my own work.

On the flip side, I think Izan learned a lot from me also. I think he found a new appreciation for fast lenses and shallow depth of field. I also reintroduced him to black-and-white imagery…so much so that he changed the focus of a book he was working to an all black-and-white presentation.

As a result of my experience in Brazil I am doing a two-day road trip after WPPI with Australian photographer Marcus Bell and U.S. photographers Parker Pfister and Joe Photo. There is no agenda. Just hit the road and photograph whatever we come across.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Most people have an idea of how important personal projects are, but like Greg they feel like they don’t have time for them. Do you have stories about the importance of personal projects to your work? We will continue to highligh photographers’ personal projects on RESOLVE, so be sure to include a link to the work if you have it, or send us an email if you’re interested in sharing the project here.


  1. September 8th, 2009 at 12:16 pm


    Amazing photos!

  2. October 24th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Zach McDuffie

    Hi Greg… Just came across your blog entry, I just returned from a similar trip to the south of Brazil where I was photographing “gauchos” as a personal project. Have a look when you get a chance,
    Enjoyed your shots, great stuff!

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