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OE55 COVER FEATURE: Sean Scott Photgraphy

Sean Scott is, without doubt, one of the country’s finest landscape and wildlife photographers. His images are nothing short of breathtaking and he has a true eye for details across many aspects of photography in and under the water, on the land and in the sky.

With his feet firmly planted in the pristine sands of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, his imagery shows how much he adores the landscapes of the region. Whether it is in the crystal-clear waters of Kirra Beach, or the Great Bear Rain Forest of British Columbia. The sky above the sand flats of the Kimberly, or the many underwater playgrounds of the world.  Sean seems to have a knack for seeing and capturing some of the most extraordinary moments most photographers only dream of.

Sean has travelled the world and captured some of the best parts on camera. With over 307,000 Instagram followers and over 115,000 on Facebook, he has become somewhat of a household name. He has his own lifestyle gallery in Burleigh Heads, where you can purchase his works in many forms, and has proven time and time again with every new image that he earned such a large following through pure talent and hard work.

Outer Edge caught up with Sean on a recent break from his hectic schedule to ask a few questions about his art.

What do you like most about being a photographer?

From an early age, I always loved to show people things, and when I discovered photography, I found this was the perfect tool for me to show people things that inspire me.  Being a surfer, I was always in awe of how it looked from out in the waves and once I learned how to take my camera out into the water, I was fascinated by how beautiful it looked. I could then share that vision with people who never had the opportunity to see it for themselves.  That same inspiration has now carried on with a lot of my photography.

What kind of gear do you use?

  • Camera body – Canon Eos 1DX and Eos 5D4
  • Lens – Canon 11-24, 16-35 2.8 L and 100-400 L

How did you decide to become a photographer?

I have always loved to show people things, and on a trip to Tasmania with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) I took a lot of photos on the trip across, only to find that the film camera was broken.  It was then at a pawnbrokers in Tasmania I purchased my first film SLR camera.  I spent the rest of the trip experimenting with settings and learning how to take photographs. My real love for photography started from there.

What was the most useful photography gadget you ever bought?

I suppose I would have to say a tripod.  It allowed me to shoot long exposures and opened up a new level of photography as I was learning.  Also, a water housing from Aquatech for my camera as that then allowed me to explore my ocean photography.

What is the most challenging thing about being a photographer?

Balancing family life, business and still keeping the creative spirit alive.  I try and combine all these aspects together as much as I can but sometimes you do need to sacrifice one for the other.

What kind of tools do you use for post-processing? Explain your workflow.

I am still a bit old school here and just use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop.  I have banks of hard drives both at home and at a second location in my gallery at Burleigh Heads where I keep an identical back up.  I also travel with at least 2 hard drives and try to always have double backups with me.

How do you get the subject just the way you want? Do you have a set method?

Being in the right place at the right time is key here.  I have no real method but live by the rule that to be in the right place at the right time you need to be out there always looking for that next image.  Eventually, you will find yourself in the right place at the right time. It is then very important that you know how to use your equipment without thinking, so you can capture what you are seeing.  It also feels once you’re in that zone that you tent to find yourself in the right place at the right time more often and you can get into a bit of a flow.

Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?

I was kind of lucky as I started my career before social media and the digital age, so I did really just go out with a blank canvas.  This really helped me with my creative style as there were no other images or styles that clouded my vision.  Now though, with so many great photographers and so much great equipment, I try not to look too closely as I still love that feeling of exploring and discovering new images. I find that the most rewarding. However, seeing a lot of great images does still inspire me and push me to go that extra mile to find myself in the right place at the right time.  I couldn’t name any one photographer but it’s photography that now inspires me.

How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to making it a profession?

I started out working full time as a linesman/electrician and photography was a hobby.  I was getting great feedback about my work and decided to start making my own frames and selling them at the local markets.  This went really well, and I decided to open a small gallery.  I was still working full time and juggling everything together.  By the time my second child was born I was lucky enough to be able to take 12 months leave and used this time to have a real go at it.  I never looked back and that was now 13 years ago.

Is there any particular subject you have never photographed but want to? 

I am always on the lookout for something new and this is where my inspiration comes from.  I never really like to stick to shooting the same thing over and over.  At the moment I am working on a personal project titled FLOW.  It captures the beauty in moving water and has taken me all over the world.  I still have a few years of work left on this project but no doubt, while I am out there working, other things will catch my eye.

What is your best Pro Tip for aspiring photographers?

My best tip is always to learn how to use your equipment without thinking and then try and get yourself to the right place at the right time.  Get up for sunrise, stay out till dark. Just keep searching and keep pushing those boundaries and eventually, you will find yourself looking at something pretty incredible. If you are competent with your gear you will walk away with something pretty special.

Outer Edge asked Sean to share some of his favourite images, and this spectacular feature gallery and the reasons the images are his favourites are below. 

All images © copyright Sean Scott photography, used with permission. 
My home Burleigh Heads is still one of my favourites places to shoot.  My gallery is located here and I spend most mornings down at the point watching the sunrise.  Every now and then things fall into place and you can get images like this one.
Being in the right place at the right time.  On a trip with my family to Western Australia’s coral coast, I pulled into a remote desert camping spot and could see this huge bait ball with sharks feeding on it.  I quickly flew the drone and could then see just how awesome it was.  I could then see the bait fish and sharks move very close to shore and it was then that I decided to pick up the DSLR with my 100-400mm lens to get a closer look.  The first wave popped up and I took a test shot for exposure and focus and in the very next wave the sharks almost got washed onto the beach and I walked away with one of my best shots to date.
This is part of my new series of work titled FLOW and was captured on the sand flats of the Kimberley.
My Flow series really focuses on my fascination with water and the movement of water.  On the mud flats on the Kimberley with the right tides and right light Mother Nature really does put on a show.
Wildlife is also something that I love to photograph.  This was over in British Columbia in the Great Bear Rain Forest.  At certain times of the year, the salmon spawn and make their way upstream to breed and the grizzly bears are also there waiting to get there fill.  Watching these bears fish is something I will never forget.
Underwater photography is something I am very passionate about and one of my favourites places in the world is Lady Elliot Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef.  Swimming in the lagoon at sunrise with these very friendly green sea turtles was an incredible experience.  Quite technical and tricky to shoot but when things come together the results are very rewarding.
The Whale Shark.  Exmouth Western Australia .  I also love the patterns and abstract images you see when photographing underwater and nothing beats the whale sharks when the conditions line up.
On the road.   I love exploring Australia outback and hitting the open road with my family is the ultimate way to enjoy this special part of Australia.  This was taken on the Gibbing River Road not far from camp with my little boy Sam.  We quite often go out together at night and explore the incredible night skies of the outback.
Combing my love for the surf and my love for photography led me early in my career to start taking my camera out into the waves.  When everything lines up it awesome being out in the waves photographing the golden glow from inside the tube.
Underwater perfection at Kirra in Queensland.  The simple subject of beautiful clear water with no wind and small waves can offer some of my favourite condones to shoot abstract water imagery.
To see more of Sean’s extraordinary imagery, you can visit his studio and retail store in Burleigh Heads, or visit his website (below).

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