Sean's Manifesto

I’ve been capturing moments on film for as long as I can remember.

I started back in the 1970’s with my Dad’s Pentax K1000 and I have photographed my way through colleges, newspapers, US Military, sports teams, families, high school seniors, magazines, hospitals, and countless events.

I have a degree in photojournalism and have been formally trained in art photography and writing and I’ve told stories for newspapers, the military, and a hospital system where I currently work.
In all, I’ve worked full-time, as a visual storyteller, for 30+ years.

I’ve always felt something was missing in photographs.

I’ve seen the photography industry grow from analog, black and white, to a full pixel-poking, digital revolution. I’ve spent the equivalent of years in the darkroom, processing dozens of rolls each day at newspapers and I continue to spend countless hours behind a computer processing the thousands of photos and hours of footage I take capture each week.

My perspective on the power of photography changed as I watched my kids grow up and head off to college and I thought about all the memories we’ve had.

I thought about their firsts, the ups and downs, the happy and sad times – and one of the things I came back with was that it’s my journal, as much as the photos and videos, that has captured the detail and significance of our story.

Words, written or spoken, are needed to give context to the moments that cameras capture.

I look back over the tens of thousands of photos that I take every year and I’m continually left with the empty feeling that no matter how proficient and creative I get, there’s more to these moments than I could ever capture by just pointing a camera and hitting the record.

I can no longer just be a ‘fly on the wall’ and capture things as they unfold in front of me.

After photographing and interviewing countless people in some of the happiest, and sometimes, the most heart-wrenching situations, I’ve learned that you have to sometimes prompt, direct, and help people feel safe in front of the lens. You have to turn on the lights and set the stage so that they let you in and tell you who they are. You have to look for honesty and they have to trust you’ll tell the truth.

You have to roll up your sleeves and let down your guard to feel what they’re feeling. You have to lean into the situation and not be afraid to get your hands dirty and your eyes wet. You have to ask the hard questions and listen for the subtle answers.

You have to care about more than looks and likes.

I don’t want to just take photos or record video for the sake of checking off a box. Wedding photography. Check. Senior photos. Check. Family photos. Check.

I want my work to have meaning and purpose and to leave an impact that only doing the work can produce.

I don’t just want to take photos of your sports team, dance performance, family, wedding, or event and drop off the disk of images or send you a handful of prints or a cardboard sports easel.

I want to leave you with a beautiful stake in the ground – this is a moment.
This is what it looks like.
This is what it means.

I can only do it with your help and if you’re willing to work with me.

I see all the work that goes into putting on a huge gala/fundraiser event. I see the hundreds and hundreds of hours spent rehearsing for a play or dance performance. I see the years of love and sacrifice that go into a relationship or raising a child as he or she heads out into the world.

I see all the emotions and feelings that land hard on a wedding audience or that bring an auditorium to its feet. But I also watch these powerful sacrifices, words, emotions, and performances fall to the ground and get left on the floor because no one is focused on capturing them. What rarely gets captured are the thoughts and emotions that go into the moment, or the reflection over what just happened, or the epiphany of what it means and the anticipation of what’s to come.

I’ve watched as my grandparents grew old and passed away – taking with them a vast library of stories and meanings that aren’t reflected in the albums of photos that are lucky to have a date or name scribbled somewhere.

The moments that cameras capture are only pixel thin, unless combined with meaningful questions, skillful editing, and creative storytelling.

If you’ve followed along this far, you’re probably thinking that this all sounds good, but what does all this mean?

You probably came to my site looking for wedding, family, senior or sports photos, maybe a video, and now there is all this.

What I want to accomplish isn’t typical for weddings, families, events, or portraits, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

There are moments in our lives that are pillars to how far we’ve come. They are the Rosetta Stone of who we are and the foundation of where we are going – the graduations, retirements, weddings, diagnoses, milestones, and anniversaries.

For really important moments, we have to do more than just point a camera at them and capture them at face value.

To live forever is to have good stories.

Let’s work together to tell yours.