Why I Regret Deleting Personal Photographs (And Why You Will Too)

Aside from the gigs and the glory, there’s the personal element to a photographer’s body of work.

I’m of the opinion that all photographers have a stash of personal work in their portfolio. Whether they’re photos of loved ones, vacations, or something that holds importance to them, photos exist that have meaning and emotional value. Some put their most personal images out to the public, while others keep them safe and hidden away, only for personal consumption. As photographers, it’s in our blood to document; we live for it. And it’s the work that’s not for a client that best communicates our journey through life. But sometimes, there are moments in life we would like to forget. Photos we wish were never created. We run away; we delete. But is that a good idea?

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Andrew Kurcan on Capturing the Quiet, Unspoken Moments of Grief

All images and text by Andrew Kurcan. Used with permission.

For me, photography is not only a profession, but a way to cope, interact and understand the world around me. Earlier this year my brother-in-law died unexpectedly. Weeks later my mother passed away — equally unexpectedly. 2017 has been defined by grief — the loss, the anger, the confusion, the isolation — often a full gamut of emotions. Over the past few months, I have been shooting a photo essay titled On Grief as an attempt to capture those quiet moments when one is left with nothing but their own thoughts. Being a visual creative, I find that I cope and express best with imagery.

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Personal Projects: 10 Reasons A Commercial Food Photographer Takes Free Work

Before I continue, let me tell you that this is just my personal experience and in no way do I encourage anyone to commit to free work. I’m a trained ninja guardian of paid commercial work but there are always exceptions.

Not long ago, I was approached by a client who asked in the kindest and most respectful way I’ve heard so far if I could work in exchange for food. I simply replied with a “sorry, I can’t commit to any free work at the moment” as I don’t like the idea of working for free (obviously), but didn’t want to shut the door completely either so we arranged to talk about it at another time.

In the meantime, I started thinking of ways to produce content for my blog, my portfolio and my marketing, and balancing the pros and cons of working for free.

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