It’s been a while since I have published one of my “in praise of” articles on my blog so it’s time I changed that with a new post for the start of 2019. Rather than talking about gear I enjoy using let’s talk about a great photographer who I have recently discovered.
The photographer and film maker Sean Tucker came across my radar towards the end of 2018 when I discovered him on Instagram. I ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ Sean, not just because he works in some of the same genres as me (street and portraits) but also because of his beautifully filmed and produced videos. Sean doesn’t just do the usual ‘how to’ films (though when he does they are super informative) but more importantly espouses his photographic philosophy in ways which definitely resonate with my own thoughts on this medium.
Often these videos are simply Sean talking to a camera sitting on a sofa in his living room or in some hotel room. Unlike many vloggers he doesn’t just turn a camera on and unload his thoughts into it but actually sits down and scripts what he is going to say first. By the time Sean’s camera is switched on he has crafted what it is he wants to say and knows precisely what the message is he’s going to deliver (he says this ability comes from his time as a pastor preaching to his congregation). He frequently tells stories about his life (as well as others lives) or his photography which, as good presenters know, is a great way to draw people in and really make your message ‘stick’.
The other thing I love about Sean’s stuff is that unlike many social media focussed photographers today he is not chasing likes by talking gear all the time (though again, when he does it is with a dose of his deeply thought through philosophy). His approach, like Don McCullin’s, is very much that a camera is a tool for getting the job done and that brand loyalty or being a gear fanboy misses the point of what it is to be a photographer in 2019. Instagram or Facebook ‘likes’ or being a brand ambassador for ‘NiCanoBlad’ sure will get you some short lived attention (mainly from people with short attention spans though) but ultimately what you want is loyalty from people who like you and your work and want to engage at a deeper level than just pushing that like button all the time.
So if you’ve not heard of Sean or watched any of his videos I definitely recommend taking a look at his website, Instagram or YouTube channel. I’ve already linked to some of his videos in the above but here are a few more of my favourites that I’ve watched so far. There are many, many more still to view and I look forward to seeing Sean’s work evolve through 2019 and the coming years.
How I Write Scripts for my YouTube Videos
Contains tips not just for writing scripts for videos but for writing pretty much anything where you want to get a clear message across to your audience whilst at the same time coming across as authentic and genuine.
Photographing People: The War in Every Portrait
The “war” that Sean talks about here is the one between “the sitters vanity and the photographer’s guile”. A good photographer is there to get behind the smile and to draw out the sitters personality whereas the sitter is inevitably not going to like having their photograph taken and just wants a “good picture” that shows them to their best and how they think they look. Here Sean talks about some tips on how to bridge that gap and get the best out of the portrait session.
How to Create When You’re Just Not ‘Feeling It’
Here Sean talks us through creative block or what Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls overcoming ‘resistance’. In his typical disarming way Sean goes through how he overcomes his own resistances to create his art.
Why Mastering Photography (or Anything) Takes Time
Significant birthdays (usually ones with a zero as the last digit) often make us take stock of where we are with our lives. Here Sean ruminates on where he is on his life journey on his 40th birthday and why mastering any skill just takes time. What sets people who have mastered a skill apart from those who have not is usually that they have simply put the time into mastering it rather than that they were born with an innate talent.
My Social Media Philosophy: Some Thoughts for Fellow Creators
As I’ve said elsewhere, Facebook is most definitely my bête noire however it’s sister platform, Instagram, is something I use begrudgingly simply because that is the platform used by photographers and photography consumers alike and really the platform to get your work noticed to a wider audience. In this video Sean deals with the realities of using social media platforms (mainly YouTube), how to deal with trolls, why the number of followers you have may not be as great as you think and why because you have a large number of followers does not mean you are necessarily super talented.
My Street Photography Philosophy (in Rome with the Fujifilm X-T20)
Here, as it says in the title, Sean espouses his street photography philosophy. I love the honesty of this video. He explains how he was not always into street photography because of how he feared the rejection from strangers when he asked to take a picture and of the antagonism some (literally) in your face photographers like Bruce Gilden can create when prowling the streets. Seans street photos are not devoid of people completely but show them looking away from the camera, in shadow or masked by objects etc.
Postscript: Collection II
I just received a copy of Sean’s book Collection II in the post which contains a collection of images from 2018. I think putting you images in a book format like this is a great way of ‘summarising’ your work whilst at the same time giving you an opportunity to revisit your images occasionally to assess your progress and style. This is a great example of that.