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Photographer Interview Series: Outdoor Photographer Sean Bagshaw

hot air balloons over Turkey
Outdoor photographer Sean Bagshaw
Sean Bagshaw

In this installment of the photographer interview series we're talking with outdoor photographer Sean Bagshaw.

Sean says “My job and passion is to explore the world and attempt to translate what I see and feel into visual stories through my camera. I have been photographing since the early 1990s and making my living from my images since 2004. I'm a proud member of the Photo Cascadia group.”

He lists among his skills, finding great stuff to point his camera at.

Get out and photograph a lot and have fun!
Explore, have adventures, experiment, try new things, stretch your boundaries and be passionate. Everything else follows from this.

Sean Bagshaw

Who or what was your biggest influence in photography and why?
I would have to say that, like many people, Galen Rowell was a big influence, but for different reasons than usual. In my twenties I was really into climbing and mountaineering so I was first aware of Galen as a pioneering alpinist. I read about his exploits climbing new routes up peaks all over the world and was transfixed by his documentary expedition photographs and writing. Only later did I come to know his landscape photography and career as a fine art photographer. Knowing Galen's work in this way inspired me to learn more about photography as an art and a craft and explore its possibilities beyond solely using it to document an adventure.

two photographys of nature scenes including a sunrise over field of lupines

What's your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
I'm sure I'm having failures all the time that some people would feel are catastrophic. Fortunately it seems to be in my DNA to put a positive spin on just about everything. I seem to focus on the good while quickly putting the bad out of mind. I like to chalk my mistakes up as valuable learning experiences, so even they don't really feel too much like failures. Maybe I have a problem? The times I have felt most disappointed in myself are usually when things beyond my control keep me from delivering but I still feel responsible. Once I had to cancel a presentation at a conference when I came down with swine flu and I have had a couple of my field workshops almost completely shut down by severe bad weather. Sometimes you just have to dust off and move on.
What is your biggest success or thing you're most proud of?
My biggest sources of pride are outside of photography; my kids, my marriage, challenging adventures I have completed. In photography my biggest success is probably the fact that I have achieved any degree of success at all, both artistically and as a business. That I am able to make a living with photography and that anyone appreciates my photographs or the information I have to share is mind blowing. I am grateful every moment.
What's your one “can't live without it” piece of gear?
I'm going to say my backpacking pack. It isn't specifically camera gear, but it is the piece of gear that allows me to take my other gear into wild places. My most meaningful and memorable photography experiences happen when I hike into a remote area and spend a few days taking pictures. I love wilderness, getting away from crowds, exploring and having an adventure. The physical effort and being limited only to what I can carry also heightens the experience. Backpacking photography is something I don't do as often as I would like to so I need to carve out more time for it.
Your favourite image you've ever taken and why?
Aidan-sean-bagshawWow…you are really making me dig deep. I can only narrow it down to a pair of images. They aren't what you might expect since I generally don't spend time photographing people. My favorite two images are candid portraits I took of my sons. The photos mean a lot to me because they embody the essence of their personalities in a way that feels timeless to me. I have taken many images of my kids, but these two stand out. I have experienced and photographed many landscapes and natural light events that have taken my breath away and brought tears to my eyes, but I'd trade them all for these two photos of my sons.
photographers favorite image, that of his son
One of Sean's favorite photos, his son
Your favourite image from another photographer and why?
I could pick from countless photographs that were early inspirations to me from photographers like Jack Dykinga, Ansel Adams, David Muench, Elliot Porter and more. However I am currently really captivated by the entire body of work of Michal Karcz, a photo artist from Poland. His work is everything mine is not. His images, which draw heavily from fantasy and science fiction, are dark, surreal, apocalyptic, brooding and powerful. They are composites, created by painstakingly and seamlessly merging elements from multiple images, so they really break the bounds of traditional photography. My work is generally bright and colorful. I mostly react to what is going on in the world around me. Michal creates his own worlds in his mind and then shares them with us with flawless execution.
a time lapse photo of the eclipse of the moon over Mt Shasta
Eclipse over Mt Shasta
What one thing can then viewers do right now to improve their photography?
Get out and photograph a lot and have fun! Explore, have adventures, experiment, try new things, stretch your boundaries and be passionate. Everything else follows from this.


If you could do it all over again would do anything differently? Photographically or life wise?
I would start sooner and I would explore and experiment more.

Photographer Interview Series

See what makes professional photographers tick, learn about their favorite images and their greatest failures as well as their greatest successes. Check out others in this series below:


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