Form vs. Function – A Q&A with Sean Walsh

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Meet Sean Walsh

Sean Walsh

Sean Walsh has spent his career pursuing perfect, sharp, in-focus images – both for himself and others. As a photographer, Sean’s incredibly unique style is defined by his passion and discipline. As a vital member of our Rentals team, Sean is also devoted to helping others find that same, perfect balance of form and function.

Sean Walsh - Intentional Camera Movement

A fan of abstract work, Sean’s photos utilizes his shutter as a kind of paintbrush; smearing light and motion into a blur of lines and a mix of colours. The results are like oil on canvas – playing with colour and saturation to draw out mood.

Intentional Camera Movement photography is all about interpretation and experimentation; some images are reminiscent of impressionist paintings, others are closer to something more literal. These photos, a result of this process, are representative of how Walsh sees the world;

a crazy, mad, furious thing, speeding towards tomorrow, with no chance of slowing down. I half close my eyes, letting them focus on nothing, and see the blurring of lines, the wash of tones, and that is what I strive to recreate in my photography”

Sometimes it’s serenity. Sometimes it’s freneticism. But every time, it’s deliberate.

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How does your job at Vistek relate to your creativity outside of the office?

Working in the Rentals department, I have access to gear that I would ordinarily not have regular access to, or would not consider experimenting with. Having the option to try different lenses or bodies has opened up creative possibilities that I might not have considered before.

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How long has photography been a passion?

I have been a photographer, in one capacity or another, for 20 years. The passion has come and gone over those two decades. There were times – months, even a year or two – where I REALLY questioned my calling. But some days, when I hunt down my muse with a club, and I come home with a few images I’m really happy with, then that passion gets stoked again.

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Do you have a particular genre that’s your favourite to shoot?

I answered this question four times in my head, and I realized that my favourite images are made with a minimalist approach. It’s becoming a big challenge as our world gets more and more cluttered, but just walking the streets with my camera, chasing the light at some crazy hour, that’s my favourite. If you want to call it street photography, you can, but I’ve never been one to pigeonhole my craft.

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What is your background/education?

I started photography in high school, with a Pentax K1000. Then, went to Humber College for Creative Photography, and graduated in 2000 with a head full of analog photography practices, all while landing in an industry falling over itself to go digital. I’d like to think I’ve got the best of both worlds in my head.

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In a perfect world, how would you be paying the rent?

Taking pictures of what I like and selling the prints for a ridiculous amount of money. I’m working on making my world perfect. I’m getting closer every day. Just watch me.

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How did you get your start as a photographer, did you have a special mentor?

I started as an E6 lab technician for Communicorp Multimedia Inc., up to my elbows in funky chemistry every day. Then, I started assisting photographers on a variety of shoots, and things just went from there. I’ve had a few mentors along the way; mostly fashion and product photographers who showed me how to quickly and effectively light products for catalogues and flyers. Nothing too pretty, but when I had some time to shoot the things I like, those lessons in the field provided a solid frame work for getting more creative. About 9 years ago, a friend dragged me into the world of wedding photography (kicking and screaming), and taught me how to work with people who aren’t models, effectively communicating my ideas across to them and getting them onboard with what I’m trying to create. When it comes to my personal work, then I’m an island unto myself. I’ve really had no mentors in that area, and it’s been a tough ride since I’m my only critic.

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What/who (where?) inspires you to shoot?

Interestingly enough, I find inspiration in music. I look at other photographers’ work to glean some technical insight, but I’m motivated by the emotions and thoughts I have when I listen to instrumental music – classical, contemporary, industrial, experimental. When I go out shooting, I like to use film scores as a way of influencing my mood. Some days everything lines up and I come away feeling self-actualized. Other days I’m left with more questions than answers. But that’s the creative process for me. Turbulent.

Who are your favourite photographers?

I have a few contemporaries that I look to as technical guides in my fine art images. People like Andrew S. Gibson and Doug Chinnery. I really love the stark architectural works of Joel Tjintjelaar and Julia-Anna Gospodarou. Completely unrelated to most of my work are the images of Steve McCurry and James Nachtwey – I could look at their photographs for days, until my eyes dried out.

What has your greatest career accomplishment been to-date?

I once shot an image for a catalogue page that inspired the art director to call a reshoot on the entire section to match my lighting. I made more work for myself (the good kind) by just throwing a curveball. It made a big difference in my commercial portfolio and garnered some praise from my superiors.

 

 

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In a pub. Seriously, though, I try not to plan or speculate too far in advance. I’d like to say I’d be celebrating my 10-year retrospective. Actually, scratch that, I WILL be celebrating. It just remains to be seen if it’ll be at the AGO or some pub with my friends.

Tell us a little about some of your favourite photo gear.

I have two Nikons – a D700 and a Df – and I use a few fast primes. I like to travel light, so it’s usually one of those bodies (I won’t lie… it’s always the Df. It’s new and shiny!), one or two lenses, and a few ND filters. After years of hauling big, fast zooms and flash kits and modifiers, I’ve really tired of being a pack mule. Light and mobile is the new black.

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What is your favourite photo accessory, other than your camera?

ND filters are always close at hand; they’re a must for my work. My WU-1a wi-fi adapter is a fun little gizmo that I use on occasion, and my iPad. Very useful tools.

If you had to choose just a single camera and lens would it be and why?

I just bought a Nikon Df, so that would be my current choice. I love the handling, the dials, and the tactile nature of the camera. As a tool, it’s fun to use. Having amazing image quality helps, too. Choosing a single lens is pretty difficult. I live for lightweight and portable, so I’d go with a fast 50mm. It’s a classic combination – 35mm frame and a normal lens. Can’t be beat.

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Can you share with us anything that you’re working on right now?

I’m adding to this body of work all the time. Intentional Camera Movement is my current fixation. The ultimate goal is subsequent showings, and eventually a book. Aside from that, there’s always another wedding around the corner.

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Where else can people see your work?

For wedding work, you can see it at www.frameofmindphotography.ca/sean, as well as a number of the photo entries on that site’s blog. My personal website, www.seanwalshphoto.com is mostly under construction, but a few of the galleries have some images in them. I’ll be updating much of it this spring/summer.

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You can see a selection of Sean’s work in our Toronto Store Location until April 30, 2014 – Or stop by for and see Sean in our Toronto Rental Department.

All images © Sean Walsh ~ Used with Permission

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