Many times I walk into homes and they are void of personality. One quick solution is to surround yourself with things (and people!) you love and that resonate with you. No need to keep that feature wall a blank canvas…find art that makes you happy and means something to you; ultimately generating a positive reaction.
I live in Venice and knowing that the beach is close gives me an immediate sense of calm. When we first moved here I had trouble finding art that was interesting and complimented our style. Also, sometimes an over sized piece of art is what gives that statement needed for the room, but they are so hard to find. Our decor leans towards a more retro mid century vibe. I started framing some of my husband’s work around the home and it worked for me…they were cool, vintage looking and had that beach style that complimented the space. I know I liked it, but when Lizzie McGraw; the owner of Tumbleweed and Dandelion on Abbot Kinney walked in and asked to sell them at her boutique, it validated what I felt all along. She’s been a wonderful supporter of Shawn’s work and the art is often featured in the store and used for staging in various listings for sale in town.
A little odd here interviewing my husband, but here goes…
How did you get into photography?
I love to travel and I was always taking pictures while on vacations. When I got home I would then print out a high end photo album to remember the trip. A few friends commented on the photos and asked if they could have some blown up as artwork. What a great compliment to something I was doing as a hobby.
What inspires you?
I love the retro look. Anything from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Besides the fact that those decades are filled with childhood memories, in my opinion the 70’s were the greatest era for music. The artwork on those old albums was incredible. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot an album cover and totally embraced the retro look.
What is your style?
I’m not really a technical photographer so I don’t worry about getting caught up in the “right way” to shoot. I’d rather focus on trying to capture a moment. Sometimes your worst technical mistake could become your best creatine outcome. For me it’s all about the final image…not how you got there. To quote Ansel Adams “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs”.
What type of work do you do?
I don’t have a specific genre. Besides my own projects, I’ve done work with L.A. modeling agencies, advertising shoots for businesses, publicity shots and album covers with musicians as well as recently shooting the cover for an International magazine.
Do you create some sort of story board before you go out on a shoot?
It depends on the concept. For landscape photography, I’ll do some research on the concept that I’m shooting by scouting the location, looking at what others have shot there that looks good and more importantly, what doesn’t look good. I don’t know how many times I shot a location while on vacation thinking I got the best shot only to come home and see another photographer shot the same location but from an incredible vantage that I didn’t know even existed.
When working with models, it’s a little different. I’ll still scout the location but also look over their portfolio to see what angles work for them and what angles don’t. Communication is key. You want to get to know the model enough to discover their personality so the final photos will reflect that. You also want to make sure you have a fun and relaxed shoot. Nobody looks good when their bored or nervous.
What do you find people are drawn to?
I live in Venice because I love the relaxed laid back vibe. I find that my beach and surfer photos that capture the beach lifestyle are most popular. I was part of the Venice Art Walk and my best selling art was definitely my beach series.
Are you working on any new projects?
I’m currently working on a few ideas. One is a retro black and white series with the look and feel of L.A. in the 70’s and 80’s. The series will include landscape/cityscape shots in iconic locations featuring skateboarders, surfers, punk rockers , hippies all dressed in vintage clothing. I’m going to treat the photos in post to give them that look as if they’re old photos that your parent took back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Shawn’s fine art can be found at Tumbleweed & Dandelion as well as through his website. He is also available for portrait, lifestyle and commercial work.
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