Q&A with SEPA 2018 Highly Commended Sean Paris

“Beautifully resolved, well-edited photojournalism with an immediacy straight from the centre of the action”. Victorian photographer Sean Paris caught the eye of our judges and was awarded Highly Commended for his series Melbourne Race Rallies. We caught up with him for more information on his topical, powerful work. Catch the exhibition in Melbourne from November 2.

Website address: www.seanparisphotographer.com

Instagram: @sean.paris

Category: News and reportage

Background on yourself, education, work history:

I started shooting when I was in my early teens on a film based SLR camera and have been captivated by photography ever since. Growing up in the mountains of the Yarra Valley inspired a lot of my early work and generated my interest in landscape and wildlife photography, a main component of my exhibition works. I have studied a Certificate IV and Diploma of photo imaging at Melbourne Polytechnic and have been freelancing and assisting for the past three years.

What motivates you to pick up a camera?

My main motivation for pursuing photography is the power that photography has in creating change within society, through the medium of documentation. Also the richness of photography as an art form and its potential to represent the emotions of a certain time and place, this is what I like to portray in my own work.

How did the shoot for this series come about?

It began with a project that I was working on with a woman from London but whose background was from Sierra Leone, we documented African immigrants and refugees experiences of adjusting to Australian life. This was an incredible opportunity for me to have a deeper understanding of the difficulties faced when trying to integrate into another culture.  I then began to notice in the media a growing opposition from far right groups toward immigration, this led me to become interested in the political and cultural climate of the country which led me to attend far-left and far-right protests.

What was your experience on the day? What was your intention and your thoughts on the results?

It was a very intense day and probably one of the more violent protests I have witnessed in Melbourne. There were over 400 riot police present on the day who were trying to keep the two opposing groups apart. The Australian flag was set on fire and protestors were throwing rocks at the Police. In one of my images a man had been arrested for attacking a photojournalist; Due to the recent ban on face coverings in Victoria photographers have become a target as their photos take away the anonymity of the protestor. I intend to document events to do with race and politics in the most honest way possible, I want to present my audience with the actual events and allow them to create their own opinions on the subject of race in Australia. I was happy with the results of this day. I feel like I captured the atmosphere and intensity that was taking place.

Does the series differ from your usual work and if so in what way?

It does, in terms of my photojournalism work this series differs quite a bit. It has a political focus where as my previous work has been documenting people and their cultures. As mentioned previously, the fact that this began as a cultural photography series and evolved into a political one is telling. With my commissioned basedwork, I generally work in the fashion industry and alongside the Melbourne circus community.

SUNSTUDIOS 2018 Emerging Photographer Award exhibition opens in Melbourne 2 November 2018. RSVP Here.

95 Buckhurst St. South Melbourne, 3205
6pm - 9pm