Hear It!
Sean Pavone

Our featured photographer of the month, Sean Pavone shares his passion for the engineering prowess of men, and the hustle and bustle of busy cities.

Photographer: Sean Pavone
Country of Origin: United States

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
I'm definitely a part of the Nikon camp with my arsenal of Nikon d3000 & d7000 cameras, Nikkor 18-55mm, 55-200mm, 28-300mm, 35mm, Tokina 11-16mm Vivitar 285 lenses. I edit using the Nikon Capture Nx & GIMP.

2. What do you think of photography these days?
I think the innovation of digital equipment is great! Its opened up a new avenue for a whole new set of aspiring photographers who otherwise might not find photography accessible. Many "old-timers" may complain that stock commissions have been driven down in past years, but I am happy to announce it is proving profitable for a relative newcomer like myself.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
A musician. However in the end, I never felt comfortable with performance art. By the time I graduated from college a general shift towards photography began.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
II have been interested in photography since the first point and shoot 35mm film camera that I received as a child. I've always been fortunate enough to have a family that enjoyed travel and I was pleased with not only being in foreign and exotic places, but also being able to document that experience in photographic form.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
First and foremost a time commitment is necessary. Not only while shooting, but also taking your time to properly edit, keyword, and describe your photos. There is little chance to "get rich quick" in the stock photography world, but results will eventually come with perseverance and consistent commitment.

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
The biggest challenge has been reconciling what I like to shoot and what the stock industry truly demands. I like to travel and shoot famed (as well as obscure) landmarks and sites. However, the stock world seems to be mostly inundated with photos of business models and the like. Additionally, what landmark and travel shots that do exist in the stock world are often quite good and hard to compete with. While knowing that my subject of choice will probably not make me a superstar stock photographer, I still thoroughly enjoy the niche I have chosen and will happily continue to fill it.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Compared to most other jobs, a major perk is the freelance nature of most photographers, including myself. While hours spent on the job may even exceed some traditional forms of work, the freedom with which a photographer can operate is incomparable to a typical 9-5 job.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
As a travel photographer who enjoys night photography, careful planning must be ensured before any trip. Some places have spots that simply need to be avoided, especially when carrying around expensive equipment. Safety is paramount. Routes need to be carefully planned and timed out so that sunrise/sunset shots etc. aren't missed. I make liberal use of google maps as well as referring to other photographers' work so I can get an idea of the site before ever stepping foot there.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
A travel photographer's portfolio with an emphasis on urban scenes from around the world including Tokyo, New York City, Prague, Atlanta, etc.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex checklist in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/checklist.
For me this is a mixture of both. From a technical aspect, I do in fact go through a checklist of sorts as I confirm the vast array of camera settings before and during a shoot. However, when it comes to composition, I try to let my heart decide. I am aware of the rule of thirds and basic compositional technique, but I try not to let this trump my instinct of what I think "looks good".

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Large metropolitan areas at twilight. The mixture of natural and artificial light, the movement of traffic, and the towering and dense structures are all what appeal to me. With shots like this one in New York and Tokyo, half the fun is simply finding the vantage point from which to take the shots.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
People are still a challenge for me. Capturing people at their best, in motion; is a challenge I have yet to fully take on.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Don't stop. A photographer I assisted once often repeated the idiom, "an object in motion stays in motion." In other words keep shooting, keep shooting, and keep shooting. This is the best way to improve your technique in my opinion.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
I am inspired by the architectural accomplishments of man. Above all our greatest marks upon the earth are the giant and expansive structures which we have created, and documenting their existence is an important aspiration for me.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
I travel. If I put myself in front of a grand cityscape or landscape, inspiration will come. So far as a photographer, I have never looked upon a beautiful scene and felt uninspired. I hope my awe of such sights never diminishes.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
Often once I begin a trip for the purpose of photography, I become a different person. I sleep less, eat less, and work more. This almost comes naturally. In the midst of a "photo expedition" to a place like Tokyo or New York, I can work all day without ever becoming fatigued. I do not have to force myself to walk around for 12 hours or more a day photographing, it simply comes natural like some sort of adrenalin rush.

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
I have discovered that I enjoy slowly admiring the details of a scene. Many people take a look at the skyline of city and think, "that's nice," and continue on. However with my camera pointed for hours, I enjoy taking in every detail and line of the city.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Julius Shulman, Eugene Atget, etc. These photographers, like myself, were inspired by the grand creations of man on this earth. They were among the forerunners of modern day photography and while very different from each other, they have both inspired me greatly.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting into stock photography?
Keep it up! The best advice I have is to not put the camera down. With time and practice, you will develop your own style and technique.

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