08 August, 2008

What's in YOUR Bag Sean Flanigan?

A while back I did asked readers who they'd like me to interview for future What's in YOUR Bag segments. I got an anonymous request for Portland photographer Sean Flanigan. I was SO EXCITED because though I've never met Sean, I've been following his work for a few months now. His work has a genuine, real life quality to it. It's completely and totally refreshing. He was gracious enough to agree to an interview and, well, let's hear from Sean shall we?

Me: What type of photography do you specialize in?
Sean: I photograph weddings mostly. so I would say my specialty is within the rights of passage arena. It was never my intention coming out of college to become a wedding photographer. I was very enamored with photojournalism and documentary photography (I still am) and I made a push to make that happen. I interned at newspapers and was eventually offered a job as a staff photographer for a local paper. I turned it away because at that time I was committed to too many weddings for the summer and wouldn't be able to fulfill my contracts with couples if I were to take the job. So Here I am 4 years into weddings as a full time job.

Me: What do you LOVE to shoot for you?
Sean: I love photographing people, portraits or street photography. As long as people are in the frame I'm pretty happy. You didn't ask but what I don't like is big productions, I'm way too impatient to work with strobes or teams to get a job done, not that I don't appreciate well lit photography and big production work, it's just not my cup of tea. I try to keep it as simple as possible.

Me: Are you film or digital, and what's your primary medium?
Sean: I am 35mm digital, though I love MF and 35mm film.
Me: What is your primary camera body?
Sean: Canon 5D, I've had it for over two years and I still love it.

Me: What body do you use for back up?
Sean: 2 Canon 5D's for backup. I always shoot with two cameras at once so If I have to go to the 3rd I want it to be the same as my primary camera.

Me: What would be the one lens you just cannot live without and why?
Sean: Canon 35mm F/1.4. It's an absolute utility lens. I believe it can be used for almost any situation. It's an amazing portrait lens too.

Me: What other gear do you drag along most the time (in order of importance)?
Sean: Spare batteries and flashes. I use the Canon 580ex II, two of them. As for my other lenses I use the 24/1.4, 50/1.2, 135/2 and the 45/2.8 TS. Pocket wizards are fun too.

Me: Which other photographers have really inspired you?
Sean: I'd say Bruce Gilden would be #1. His fearless approach to photographing people is pretty incredible. Elliot Erwitt's quirky dog photography has such a timeless feel, not to mention his other work is fantastic too. Steve McCurry's portraiture has always been very impactful to me. His lens work and his eye for color is so solid. Aaron Huey is another favorite. I was first turned on to his work when I stumbled upon his collection on America. In 2002 he walked the US with his dog and made beautiful frames along the way. That kind of dedication to a project is rare. As for wedding photographers I admire, Nate and Jac Kaiser, Huy at F8, Anna Kuperburg and Jesh De Rox.

Me: It looks like we've got a few of the same favorites. Cool! What would be the one piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring photographer?
Sean: To keep at it and to study photographs and photo stories, look at the iconic images that have been made. Make sure to stuff yourself with visually sound imagery, this way you know what a good frame should look like. If you're going into business back up good images with a solid brand, it's a deadly combo and something I haven't accomplished yet. I see a lot of amazing marketers that aren't quite so good at photography and a lot of fantastic photographers that aren't the best marketers. However when you combine those elements of great photography and unstoppable branding/marketing it's hard not to be a success. I think the best example of this in the wedding photography world is The Image is Found.

Me: I agree 100%. Jaclyn and Nate (The Image is Found) really have the branding thing nailed AND they're beyond FABulous photographers. Beautiful blend.

Me: Ok, last set of questions: The Pics and Kicks reader who requested you wanted to know "what actions you use, if you sell you own actions, and if you have ever considered doing a one-on-one or a workshop." So Sean, what's the scoop?
Sean: For actions I've used the Totally Rad Actions a bit in the past, but as of late I've been doing my one post work with original photoshop work. I've never really been interested in putting actions together for sale. As for a workshop or one on one session, I have thought about it but I'd like to team up with someone for it. I've got a few ideas for a workshop that would break the mold of what a lot of people are doing right now but I'm so swamped with weddings at the moment I don't have anytime to focus on it.

Me: Well Sean, if you do decide to put a workshop together, be sure to let me know! I'm sure you'd have no problem filling up and I don't want to miss it!


Thank you for being so gracious
and willing to share!
Your work has such true, candid quality;
you're quite the inspiration.
I hope I get the chance to meet you sometime very soon!
All the very best to you.



Don't miss past installments of what's in your bag with other amazing artists!

Jasmine Star
Michael and Anna Costa
Ed Pingol
Allison Cox
Jonathan Canlas

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**For those of you who saw an incomplete version of this post up early this morning. . . I have to apologize, I'm not exactly sure what happened, but apparently the post was actually live while I was still working on it. . . I am very sorry Sean!


shelly said...

I think this was one of my favorite interviews you've done, Natalie. He's awesome! I'm absolutely in love with the photo of the little boy with the skateboard, by the way. Really amazing. I'm excited to check out more of his work. This was very helpful. Thanks to both of you!

Annie Link said...

I can't wait to head over to your site Sean. Thanks for being so generous with your insights--and thanks, Natalie for snagging the interview. Good stuff.

slavin said...

You are a great photographer! I loved the interview! After seeing these pictures it left me hungry for more. You have a great eye and capture something that most cannot. Great work!! Thanks for sharing Nat!!

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

my favorite "what's in your bag" segment! I need to bookmark this guy.

p.s...I know you shoot pictures of people. BUT... do you think that you could have a food photographer one day? That would be delicious to my eyes. Just a thought.
I have plenty I want to hear from.

Natalie. said...


That would be excellent! Let me know who you'd like to hear from. I have a couple of friends who are food photogs, but if you have someone specific in mind by all means let me know!!



Anonymous said...

Great interview!

I love your work! The photos are amazing- makes you feel like you are there :)

Great job!

Jonathan Canlas said...

his work blows me away. literally.
thanks for sharing dude. maybe one day our paths will cross...until then I lurk on your blog.

Kevin Lavin said...

LOVE those football pics! Really amazing work, A+ all the way!

Heather said...

Wow! He's seriously amazing! I love the one of the kid with the skateboard! Thanks for doing this Natalie!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sean!

I LOVE the idea of studying photo stories. Brilliant. Your work is incredible. Thanks for taking the time to share! Seriously.

Unknown said...

makes me wish I was back in the states . . . as one ALWAYS need a good wedding photographer to capture the moment. I love how Sean captures the angels & the expressions are timeless. Even went to his site as the interview left me hungry for more!!

Anonymous said...

i *heart* sean! truly amazing work. and thanks for all the props! ;)

Unknown said...

Amazing photos! You can taste the life in them! Great capture of emotion. My favorite is the warming effect in the first middle group wedding shot with the bride in the background; also love the skateboarder shot, its raw innocence is beautiful. Excellent work Sean!

Great interview Natalie!