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Sean Openshaw

My name is Sean Openshaw and I'm an editorial, portrait, event photographer living in Flagstaff, Arizona.

There’s more to you than meets the eye

March 25, 2020

As a school-trained, newspaper-raised photojournalist, I always believed that the end-all way to capture a moment was the ever-elusive, ‘decisive moment’ found in the perfect photograph.

Whether it was the professional portrait of a community leader, an environmental portrait of an athlete or artist, or the flavor of an event – it was the photograph that was worth as much or more than any of the accompanying words that wrapped around the art.

Give a photojournalist time to do a photo story on a subject, an individual or a cause, and the final photos would paint the complete narrative and provide insights beyond words.

Sure, it was always great to have a competent writer along for caption information and background flavor, break the ice and find the story, but a true story would be hard to thrive without the foundation of strong photos to complete the message.

As I transitioned away from newspapers and focused more on portraits, corporate events and weddings, it was still the decisive moment, the perfect smile, the slice-of-life found in the photograph that drove me to improve my craft and chase those moments.

But then I started working with video. I started learning about the power of story and realizing the kinds of details that come out during an interview.

When I started doing weddings again, I would sit there an listen to the toasts and the vows and watch as those heart-felt moments echoed to the audience and then fell gently to the floor without anyone there to capture and record them.

Sure, people had their phones up to record bits and pieces but who knows where those files end up.

Combining the decisive moment from photographs with words and video is truly the way to capture a moment.

It was in those moments that I realized that even the most perfect photo could never capture the emotion and sentiment conveyed in the words. Some of the words could be preserved because they were delivered as written, but so many impromptu thoughts will fade along with the memories that try to retain them.

When I photograph a high school senior or a corporate executive or cover a large fundraising event, I can capture the equivalent of millions of words in the thousands of photos that I take. And while those words can clearly articulate what you look like, how much fun the event was, and what it felt like to be there. It can never go as deep as the combine the photos, video, audio and words.

Of course there’s more to you than meets they eye. There’s more to about anything than what meets the eye. We all mask behind this persona we’ve created, the ‘brand’ we’ve built about ourselves.

But with the help of a camera. A writer. An editor. Who knows what we can find out. Who knows the story that we can tell.

It takes the willingness to open yourself to the possibility of being seen and the faith in someone who can help show who you are.

Let’s work together to find out what that really looks like.

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