It's a great honour to have a portrait of mine to be included in this year's American Photography Annual. Many of my favourite photographers like Roger Ballen, Asger Carlsen, Alejandro Cartagena, Philip Cheung, Nadav Kander, Andrew B. Myers, Raina + Wilson, Carlos Serrao, Derek Shapton, Cindy Sherman, Dan Winters and Mark Zibert are some of the great artists included. Highly recommend taking the time to check out the full slideshow.
Here's a recent mail promotion. It's not really a secret that I dislike doing self promotion. I am also keenly aware that most art directors just throw promos out. Which brings up a dilemma. So we went a bit self referential with this one.
Now, because this is a blog and all, here is the back story. It began like this.....
At this point in time, no one has respond to my call for suggestions.
Now, what I had done at this point in time is created a very simple 11" x 14" layout that featured two photographs of mine and accompanied by the text below. I was planning on buying regular plastic waste bins and put the 11" x 14" in them and ship them in cardboard boxes.
I dislike promos as much as you do. I hate them. I would throw them in the trash as well. So here ya go, I decided to take care of the whole thing for you. Trash can and promo. Fateful partners, forever to join forces.
So you hate promos and so do I, but we do this dance, because no one has time to chat and meet and look through a book. I also dislike promos because they are usually about everything, but photography. Or at least the ones that get the most word of mouth. This will thusly be my most successful attempt because it has nothing to do with making a good photograph. This is also why I hate promos, because I really like photography a lot. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, ranting about it on my blog, reading visual art and fine art photography theory books. I question it, get frustrated with it and get inspired by it over and over. Promos, not so much. I ordered the garbage can from Office Depot and got the boxes and put this promo in the garbage can and mailed it to you. I don’t think that really constitutes what makes a good photographer or someone who is consumed by photography and explores different aspects of it whether creating art or on an advertising shoot. But really the only way of knowing or proving if I can do that is if we work together. In case we don’t work together soon or meet up for a chat IRL here are a few other things about me: I went to OCAD. I like football. (Me and some other advertising people you may know get together sometimes and play, you should join our Facebook group if you like football too). I’m a Saints fan, so if you’re a Falcons fan... Yeah you will probably never hire me and IM OK WITH THAT BECAUSE YOUR TEAM SUCKS. I’m on twitter doing stupid things. I want to make more art. I smoked a cigarette with Dennis Hopper when i was 16. I’m pretty sure there’s at least one musician that you like, that I also like. I wear skinny jeans, but not as skinny as I used to. I usually have facial hair in some form and fashion. I like road trips. I’ve worked on shoots around the world with a variety of clients. Once, I was shot at by men with assault guns in the mountains of northern Peru. In Tokyo, I told Jackie Chan and his entourage to leave the bar we were working in because we were loosing the light. I got a nasty 24 hour bug during a shoot at Tiffany’s in New York and I am pretty sure that I have thrown up in that washroom more than anyone else in history.
And yeah that’s about it for now. I have more stories if you want to hear them. Below are a couple of my photographs, maybe you’ve seen them, maybe you haven’t. I think they are pretty good, but not as the good as the ones I'm going to make in the future. You can check out more work at www.seanjsprague.com and yeah I hope this gives you a better idea of what I'm about and you can throw this back in the garbage can now if you like. Thanks for taking the time. If you do want to meet up or have a chat, you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring or shoot me a text at 647 895 8134 or argue with me on the internet at twitter.com/seanjsprague
Agency: John St.
Art Director: Kyle Lamb
So it's been a while since I've come to the blog to rant about something photography related. Most of the posts recently (or not too recently have you) have been so if you are in a position to hire me as a photographer, you do so. This isn't one of those posts....
Unless you want to hire me to create zeitgeist/meme like images.
Like many freelance artists I have been told to engage in social media. That the future is now and Pinintrest will be my savior. I have a Facebook page that I don't update too often and more people probably don't see bc Facebook has to make money and I need to spend Zynga dollars or something so all the people who liked the page can see it's postings. I also have a twitter account where I don't usually talk about photography. I usually make jokes, yell at live events (mostly sports). More and more I have been following twitter accounts that are critical of self promoting twitter accounts and make dick jokes. How any of this has to do with photography business I have no idea. I'm probably doing it wrong and I should be taking an instagram of a behind the scenes that shows you some grip equipment anad gaffer tape and people standing around looking at a screen. That will really give you a sense of what it's like to be onset with me (Kinda like any other set). So instead I make jokes and have twitter discussions with like minded individuals like @dogboner. But something happened lately where those two worlds (one of photographery self-promotion and having fun with a medium) converged.
So the big "Nemo" (a name created by the Weather channel marketing department) storm came and I had a morning to kill the day of the storm, so I created what you see below from a bunch of different pieces of images. Obviously one element from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back from 1980, one from Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1964 and then about 4 more pieces. A frozen lake, the Toronto skyline, a snowy/cloudy sky and snow in the foreground. The whole process took about an hour. I used Starwars and the abominable snowman, becasue most everyone has a connection to those things. Everyone can relate. They are easy to indentify and easy to share. It's easy.
I then took to twitter and forwarded the image to a few people. Some folks in Toronto retweeted it, but it really got some "traction" when I sent it to Adrian Chen, a staff writer at Gawker, who 's done some fantastic work on new media and internet social environments amongst other things. He retweeted it and while not some huge sensation at the end of the day it was retweeted about 60 times in all and was probably seen by tens of thousands of people. Now to juxtapose something, the below image i created after 2 scouting trips, days of pre production, a couple days of sketching, a day of shooting including a full crew crew and talent, a few hours of lighting, hair and makeup and styling. Not to mention that I used more than a few exposures to composite the final image. So quite a bit of work, help, money, people and time. But no Star Wars, no Abominable Snowman, no snowstorm everyone is dealing with, and thus I'm fairly certain a lot less people have seen it.
I'm using the above photograph as an example, but you could certainly take most of my photographs and substitute it in here. Some take longer and more contemplation than others, but all are more involved than a one liner and 45 minutes in photoshop and 15 mintues in google image search.
This comes as no surprise, some things are more identifiyable and relatable and mainstream than others. But it got me thinking about a few things. Photography's place in today's world. How we consume images and how I really think things are becoming more polarized. A greater gap between the fleeting and the permanent. While I understand the use and purpose of the candy like imagery that flies by our eyes and makes us feel a little sick if we've consumed too much, personally I like the more permanent approach. Not that I find zero enjoyment from the former, because yeah I have a laugh looking at what I had come up with and laughing is a good thing. I have been reading a lot of Michael Fried lately. Specifically, his books "Art and Objecthood" and "Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before". His ideas on the tableau have become pretty influential on my views and how I practice in the future. While it may be a bit daunting to get thourgh and may only make sense after you've read some of his work, you can watch a talk he gave to the University of Arts London at Central Saint Martins below.
Now looking at my some of past work I find some of it a bit overly theatrical, like the above image. Possibly because I was attempting to serve two masters at once. One appealing to my artisitc sensibilities and at the same time attempting to gain freelance magazine and advertising work. This is a little off topic, but it wouldn't be a rant if that didn't occur, but it applies if you give me a second. I wonder how these two modes (fleeting and permanent) can coexist, or maybe like serving two masters, it can't. And maybe thats where we're headed with images. First Facebook, then Instagram and now Snapchat and Vine. While these things are fun and provide a sense of being connected to events outside of one's own place in the world at a given moment they provide a very different function than that which photography has long been associated, to document something that has happened. These mediums are using images to communicate what is happening. How will each of these things shape and affect one another in the future is unknown. But I think it will be important. Photography is becoming more complex as it splits and divides and finds new avenues. I find more and more that photography is functioning as writing may have ages ago, that photography is an enfant and its trying out new things. I read alot about photography and art and there is is sooooo sooooo sooooo sooo much written about photography and if its over and instagram and barf. The english language is made up of 26 characters. 26 things put into combinations to create new things and ideas and expressions. Images are made up colour. I guess you could say they break down to red, green and blue or cyan, magenta, yellow and black; it still provides the building blocks for seemingly endless possibilities. And while this may be comparing apples to oranges, I pose it just as a counter to all the usually talk. While I myself may think from time to time, "Man I'm sick of all the photographs coming out and everything is looking the same", I remind myself that great writers use a lot of the same words as each other. And maybe we're coming out of that initial honeymoon period with photography where everything is new. Now it's time to get into the heart of the matter.
PS - Even though the Nemo Storm only happend about a week ago, this post feels extremely out of date.
Missing Hockey? Everyone is. Lucky for us the young guns are still lacing them up. This is Max Domi. Yes, son of Tie Domi. The only difference between him and and his old man is, well... Basically everything. Max isn't a big fighter, but a finesse player who is playing in the OHL right now and has caught the eye of many in the NHL, as well as Sportsnet Magazine who commissioned me for his portrait. You can pick up the issue on newsstands now.
A portrait of makeup artist Sheri Stroh in the new FASHION Magazine. Shot this at the amazing Toronto Botanical Gardens, which is really worth a visit if you've never been. Be sure to pick up the latest issue to read about Sheri, her battle with cancer and her development of her eco-friendly makeup products.