Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

Travel to Portugal with Doug Menuez and be Reminded of the Power of the Personal Project

For photographers, there exists a delicate balance between the demands of commercial work and the pursuit of personal projects. For many photographers, the former is a necessity to make a living, while the latter serves as a creative sanctuary, a place to nurture one's artistic soul. Doug Menuez has been a photographer for most of his life, and professionally shooting for many decades. As a change of pace, he decided to take a sabbatical with his wife in a small village in Portugal. Though he still travels to the US for projects, the respite from New York City to a village of 2,000 has provided Doug the opportunity to reflect, and capture imagery of a new place and people.  

He has always been driven by a profound curiosity about the human experience and the common threads that connect us all. Whether through street photography, global ad campaigns, or documenting corporate culture, his aim is to create images that have a lasting impact, his quest to capture those fleeting moments of reality that may go unnoticed by others but resonate deeply with him. 

His current sojourn in Portugal has been a long time coming. Nestled in a picturesque village, surrounded by vineyards and castles in the Douro Valley, Doug encounters the various daily realities, from impromptu street parties doused in colorful powders to centuries-old castles and the local wine culture. He's been documenting the rich tapestry of life in the region. The town's 500-year-old buildings and ancient cobblestone streets have become his muse.

Along with filling his proverbial cup, this time away has confirmed his philosophy on taking time to shoot personal projects. He firmly believes that these projects are vital for an artist's growth and creativity. In his words, "If you don't take time to nurture your own creativity and do things that are important to you, your creativity dies a little bit each time you don't listen to that internal voice." 

Because of this belief, Doug is able to seamlessly parlay his personal projects into commercial work. He has learned to infuse the same passion and creativity into his assignments, making them as satisfying and enjoyable as his personal endeavors. Clients, too, benefit from this approach, as they receive fresh and original work that resonates with the word on everyone’s lips - authenticity. Embracing personal projects is not a distraction from your craft but a catalyst for artistic growth. These projects not only replenish you creatively but also enrich your commercial work in ways that can't always be quantified.

Through this collection of images, we gain a glimpse into the beauty of Portugal, and through his words, we find inspiration to embark on our own creative journeys. Doug’s sabbatical is more than a break; it's a celebration of the artistic spirit and a recognition that personal projects are the lifeblood of an artist.