All Posts By

Sean Kernan

Taking it Further

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If this week’s bloggers have about 20 years of experience each, that’s 100 years of know-how right there, so I can’t wait to see what the others say. It should go well beyond “tips,” and I’m bound to learn something. Here’s what I’ve got: It is no secret that the writers and creative directors who come up with the scenarios that we fulfill usually don’t get to be really creative at all. The way they…

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Opening a New Door

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At first, photography was not a career for me. It was a way out of a job that had stopped being creative (in theater, of all places), and a way into a universe that was larger than anything I’d ever suspected was there. Up to that point I’d spent my life first as a student, then as a responsible stage manager. But when I looked through a camera, suddenly I was blown into a wider…

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Francis Bacon Disrupts His Plans

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Failure! When the topic was announced, it was oversubscribed at once and they had to add a week to accommodate the would-be writers. As I write this, my guess is that most of us will voice variations on the idea that what looks like failure isn’t necessarily failure at all, that it may be a clearing of the path to growth, even to a triumph. And mostly this is true for the artist in us….

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Get Real!

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When I look at photographers’ websites they are mostly built on the stuff they do for clients…you know, the stuff we all do. And there are lots of reasons to set things  up that way. But often there’s a page called Personal Work, or something like that, shyly tucked away.  And I head right for it.  I’ve found that that’s where the life is. That work is just better…more authentic, more passionate, fuller, richer, more…

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Creativity

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The young Piet Mondrian was painting over some older canvases he had done. “Why are you doing that?” A friend asked. “Those are perfectly good paintings.” “I’m not trying to make paintings,” Mondrian replied, “I’m trying to find things out.” We all began by making photographs for no other reason than to find things out, to “see what things look like in photographs,” as Gary Winogrand said. And it it is the  great reason. Then…

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Summer Reading

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A great way to get inspired and to exercise your imaginative vision is to slip outside photography altogether. Which is why I recently disappeared into Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry short stories for a few weeks. I lived in the grind and the confusion and the human-ness of partisan warfare. The experience raised lots of questions about myself and about humans and what we do. Babel is a master at making his stories seem like they…

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Show What You Want to Do

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Over the course of my career the strongest work I’ve ever done was what I did for myself, particularly in the beginning. I’d be wandering around with a camera in my hand and nothing on my mind (a crucial component) when suddenly I’d see…something! Unexpected, surprising, often a bit alarming. It just woke me the hell up and I’d go after it like a dog chasing a squirrel. And what came out of these events—aside…

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Going Forward from SB3

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Only after Chicago did it occur to me how easy it was to get people to warm to the subject of my presentation. I mean, how hard could it be to get creative people to stand up and participate in creativity seminars? It was like rolling stones down hill. You just have to get them started. Which made me appreciate all the more the work done by my co-presenters, who talked about getting your files…

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Expanding Your Thinking

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The reasons to do it are obvious. The best way expand your thinking is to just do something. I suggest going to Paris. Not that you’ll think more there. You might even think less, but your thoughts will all be new, fresh. With the micro-gravities (shopping, picking up the cleaning, all that stuff) removed from your life there’ll be room for a whole new set of experiences. Give your mind a little time and it…

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Don’t Stop Creating

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Assisting is a step toward being a photographer, a way of learning how things are done, how they work. That’s all very important, but you really need to keep your creative work going. That’s what will really make  you a photographer. That’s where you learn what no one can teach you. That’s where your career will ultimately come from. Knowing workflow and procedures is important, but not more important than doing the actual work.

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