This is why self assignments will take your photography up a level
So you want to work for big brands or publications, right? It can be quite daunting when you’re starting out to know exactly how to get to that level where you’re doing the work that you really want to be doing.
This is where setting self-assignments is crucially important. Really, it’s the only way to position yourself and your portfolio to be able to start approaching the people you want to work with. In this excellent video, photographer Willem Verbeeck shows how he sets himself assignments so that he can improve the quality of his work and be better able to target the work he wants to get.
“A self-assignment,” says Verbeeck, “is exactly what it sounds like. It is you commissioning yourself.” So the assignment has to have intent and purpose. It’s not enough just to go out with your camera and take a few shots. There needs to be a real point to what you’re doing.
Verbeeck gives us some insights into a recent self-assignment he did exploring the plant nurseries in LA underneath the city’s power lines.
It doesn’t have to be epic, either. Sometimes personal projects take several months to complete and involve a lot of moving parts. Sometimes they can be short and sweet, involving just a day’s work and a series of 5 or 6 images.
I personally have always loved to incorporate personal projects and self-assignments into my work. They pull me out of creative ruts and allow me to explore subjects that I wouldn’t otherwise get to. Ultimately, personal projects are the strongest part of my portfolio.
Take a watch of the video. It’s clear that Verbeeck enjoyed this project, and his images are fantastic. Maybe it will inspire you to explore a new subject with your camera. If so, tell us about your self-assignments!
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe