Member News, Photography March 28, 2016
Sean Connors: I’m With the Band
New York-based designer makes music with his camera
They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. As far as the weather is concerned, March here in New York has been pretty sheepish the whole way through. But when it comes to ADC’s Photography Month, we’ve been roaring up a storm, right up to this last stretch! It’s always a joy to showcase the talent within our community, whether they’re industry veterans with years of experience, young photographers just starting out, or just creatives who can’t help but experimenting with cameras after their day jobs.
Kicking off our final week of Photography Month is a New York-based designer who takes his photography very seriously — even if it isn’t what pays his bills.
New York, NY
How old were you when you became interested in photography? How did that interest come about, and how was it fostered?
I became interested in photography around my junior year in high school. I initially took a photo class to learn Photoshop and camera basics to help me as a designer. I ended up finding a new passion.
My parents helped to foster this new outlet by getting me my first DSLR camera the following year. Since then it’s just become second nature. It’s how I interact with my environment.
Do you remember the earliest photograph you ever took that moved you?
I don’t remember the earliest photo I ever took, but I do remember the earliest photo shoot that I did. It was for my friend and rapper, Kyoto Jones. He brought a few of his friends along and we shot at an underpass with the coolest graffiti that we had in our suburban town as a backdrop.
What type of photography would you say is your specialty, and how did it come to be your specialty? Can one be transient — starting in one area of photography but evolving into another?
Concert photography would be considered my specialty, although I hate to put myself in such a box.
It was simply a matter of me going to as many shows as I could get to. I just had an intense desire to translate music into stills and to hang on to that energy and those moments for just a bit longer.
I think you must be transient in any medium as an artist. If a photographer is not working to evolve I don’t think that they are challenging themselves enough.
“If a photographer is not working to evolve I don’t think that they are challenging themselves enough.”
Define your photographic style in a single sentence.
I prefer to let the viewer decide.
What’s your favorite camera to shoot with? What’s so awesome about it?
At the moment the Olympus Stylus Epic with Ilford Delta 3200 film. The Stylus Epic for its incredible durability and portability and the Ilford Delta 3200 for its ability to shoot in the darkest of venues and for its ability to provide extreme texture. My favorite tools are always changing though.
What is the hardest part about making a living as a photographer? Any advice on how to overcome that challenge?
Fortunately I make my living as a designer, so I am able to pursue my photography without the pressures of paying the bills with it.
Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?
“I’ll find My Way” is a project that I am especially proud of. It is a 12″x12″concert monograph titled after a Julian Casablancas lyric. It is an exploration of my passion for music and capturing moments. It is a collection of photographs from New York City concerts taken in 2014 and 2015. Shot entirely on Ilford Delta 3200 black and white film with an Olympus Stylus Epic, I aimed to capture the lure and gritty atmosphere of a show in the city.
It is one of the clearest visions that I’ve had for any project, photography or otherwise. The final execution was exactly how I had initially envisioned the book.
The project is ongoing as I plan to add more performances to the book.
What would be your dream client/project/collaboration?
Going on a cross country tour with some of my musician friends, documenting the entire thing and putting together a book at the journeys’ conclusion.
Nowadays everyone has ‘cameras’ in their pockets and Instagram on their phones. How has this changed the photography game? How has this changed your photography game?
I think it has forced photographers to remember that your best camera is the one that you have with you; that it isn’t about the tool so much as the eye. Overall, I think it has raised the taste-level of the average person. You’re seeing people who would have never edited a picture before, spending time adjusting contrast in Instagram to present a better shot.
On a personal level, the ubiquity of camera phones made me reexamine my process and explore new ways of thinking about photography. I began to combine iPhone photography with film processes for a new juxtaposition, as I noted in an op-ed that I once wrote for ADC. I’ve since expanded that idea into a project which combined shots of nature in New York City on black and white film that I colored using only iPhone apps.
What are your other creative outlets and sources of inspiration?
As I noted, I work as a graphic designer, but outside of that I am working on a new clothing line and am starting to dabble in video as well.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. Music, film, fashion, architecture, industrial design, fine art, politics, new experiences, love.
Fill in the blank: “When I’m not shooting, I am…”
“…I am designing.”
Which professional photographers do you look up to, whether from afar or as mentors?
Nick Knight for always pushing the boundaries. Michael Kenna for his stark, atmospheric simplicity.
When all is said and done, what is it about being a photographer that gets you up in the morning and drives your passion?
Photography allows me to indulge in nostalgia and lets me hold on to fleeting moments for just a bit longer.
Photography Month takes place throughout March, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!