Sean O’Shea is a contemporary artist who works from his studio in the Arts and Industry Park in Byron Bay. We found out about him through his beautiful Byron Bay imagery.
His art reflects the fragility and complexities of the planet, and exhibits an enormous respect and love for the environment, wildlife, and for his hometown, a place of extraordinary natural beauty. This ethos is seen in Sean’s photography…
When did you get into photography?
I got into photography when I was doing my daily walks to the Byron Lighthouse, I’d been painting and drawing full time and was using a camera occasionally to help my art practice. One day I captured a dolphin leaping out of the waves at Tallows while a surfer looked on in awe, it was an extraordinary experience that opened my mind and I started seeing things in the bay that I hadn’t noticed before. I became immersed in the beauty of this place and wanted to capture more and more of these special moments.
How does Byron Bay inspire you and your photography?
My photography is focussed on the bay and the northern rivers area, this place has a beauty that I have not experienced anywhere else, the traditional owners of the Bundjalung Nation are very giving people and I have a huge respect for them and their stories of the area. I love the ancientness of this land, the chemistry of the mountain ranges meeting the water and the majestic caldera and mighty Wollumbin. Every day is different inspiring me to photograph the stunning natural beauty of our marine and wildlife. I also find the people of this area inspiring, the protectors and passionate advocates for the environment and welfare of others, there are a lot of courageous folk living in those hills!
I enjoy photographing the surfers of the bay, the ones that connect and become part of the landscape, they’re the images I’m most interested in, people connecting with their environment. I love experiencing the personalities of the wildlife I see and try and capture that through my photography and remind people that these creatures are beings not unlike us and we need to revere and protect them. I often think how empty the landscape would be without the dolphins, whales, birds, koalas, wallabies, goannas, etc, they’re so precious and I really want to try and get people to understand the interconnectedness we all have and to respect the importance of our ecologies.
How long have you lived in this region?
I used to come to Byron for holidays in the early 90’s and I always dreamed of living here, I moved permanently in 2003 and that when I started to paint and draw full time.
Do you feel there’s a bit of a spiritual correlation for you between nature and your photography?
I’m quite a philosophical person and appreciate the great unknown. What really connects me to nature is the early morning, it’s a starting point to feeling the environment, the light, the mood, the space, the silence. I love the sunrise it’s a special time when my mind is empty and not influenced by others, I simply connect with my surroundings and that’s often when the magic happens.
Any tips for aspiring nature photographers?
You’ve got to love what you do and be grateful for the visual offerings that come your way whatever they may be. Don’t force or expect anything or be results driven. Be patient and responsive and feel the images, if an image makes me feel something then I know it’s going to translate and they’re the images I want to share.