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Interview Documentary

Sean Hames

Photographer Sean Hames photographs everyday scenes during his trips to Alaska. His black-and-white photographs show us glimpses of civilization in a vast and rough landscape.

Tell us a little about your background

My background is pretty typical for a photographer in that it was essentially handed down to me from my father. He never gave me a camera and told me to go out and make pictures, but I watched him make pictures as a child and my brother and I became his long term subjects. I didn’t pick up a camera myself until I was about 25 and my father quickly became my mentor. I’m 36 now so I’ve been kind of honing in on my own craft for the better part of a decade. My first love was for movies and filmmaking and I think my interest for making images initially came from that.

What path led you to becoming a photographer, and to doing what you’re doing today?

I first started making pictures when I got an iPhone and it didn’t take long for me to realize this was the direction I wanted to go in. Making pictures really gave me a good excuse to get out and explore the world more so I started doing little road trips. I would learn to get out of my comfort zone, learn more about myself, and practice this art. Eventually a friend invited me to work for the summer in Alaska and I took it as an opportunity to photograph as I drove there from Rhode Island. I returned to Alaska for a couple years and the pictures I made in that part of the continent has become the bulk of my ongoing work.

How would you describe your work?

I’m not the best at describing my work but they’re mostly flyover states. Places where most people don’t really go or towns people normally drive by. Places where there’s really nothing going on, as much of a cliche that is. On these trips to Alaska I definitely find myself photographing structures and places that end up being taken down and destroyed so I think there’s an underlying sentiment about wanting to document something before it’s gone forever. Some dying or transforming way of life.

Can you tell us a bit more about how you approach photography today?

My approach lately has been pretty simple. I took a year off from traveling and spent some time photographing my home and family and making prints of all this work. Taking after my father a little and making pictures of my niece and nephew mostly for another ongoing project. I’m starting to feel like I need to get out and make pictures again soon.

Which camera and lenses do you use?

I’ve used the same trusty DSLR for years with a 24-70mm 2.8 lens. I’ve worked with different types of film before but found that with digital I can experiment with composition more.

Which other photographers, designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

So many artists I get inspiration from daily. Always Robert Adams, Paul Strand, Van Gogh. Bill Eggleston, John Gossage, Ray Meeks lately. There’s so much art to pull from in this day and age with all the access on the internet. It’s almost overwhelming but I really feel blessed to be able to witness it all.

© Pictures by Sean Hames