Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Sebree.
Robert, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Japan and had the opportunity to work on set with some of Japan’s top commercial photographers. I returned to the states to attend Texas A&M University and worked my way through school as a photographer. The day I graduated I moved to NYC where I established myself as a photographer relocating to Los Angeles just a year later as my photographic emphasis was becoming more on portraiture than fashion.
Since then I have maintained a studio in Los Angeles and traveled the globe photographing people with an emphasis on entertainment and advertising clients.
Has it been a smooth road?
I believe that in any creative venture the road is never without obstacles.
My clients hire people based on what they bring to the table. Overcoming a steady stream of challenges is how one develops the skills to effectively deliver a job on time, on budget and on point. Challenges are just poorly-timed opportunities.
Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
Photography remained relatively unchecked for 100 years after it’s inception until color film was introduced early last century. With the introduction of digital photography at the end of the 1900’s, there was a tidal change in virtually everything photographic and the era where “photos don’t lie” was dead. Today this industry continues to change with each technological advancement and anyone’s prediction of how the commercial photography landscape will appear 10 years from now is just conjecture. (While I was typing that sentence I got texts from two different people about 3 new cameras that were just announced today that should “change the way we shoot”). Fortunately, I take solace in the fact that photography and cameras are merely tools and the determining factor is the skill and intent of the photographer. Having a typewriter doesn’t make you Hemingway.
What has been the primary challenge you’ve faced?
The life of any artist is basically a challenge-based existence, by that I mean our job description is to try to always create something effective while remaining true to your own aesthetic as well as serving the needs of your client, that’s a big challenge everyday. Add to that the ever-changing technology, the politics involved in working with high-profile clients, new information delivery platforms, shrinking budgets in some sectors, etc. and pretty quickly creative problem solving just becomes part of the workflow. Fortunately, it’s very often the case that problems breed solutions that would have otherwise not have been considered and bring a fresh perspective to the project.
What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
Diversify. When I started shooting in L.A. if you shot for the record labels you would not be considered for fashion or the movie studios so everyone was forced to pick a lane and stick with it. As the business transforms those barriers are being torn down and one’s aesthetic can be applied to anything from food to portraiture to product work. Also, now that still, cameras are capable of motion it’s no longer necessary for a photographer to limit themselves to still image and more and more clients are looking for someone who can deliver both still and motion to satisfy varied platforms.
Finally, don’t play follow the leader. I see a lot of young photographers trying to emulate the work of those they admire. That slot has already been filled and that’s a recipe for failure. If you align your vision with that of the masses then you are determined to become one of them, this is an industry that rewards free-thinkers not schools of thought.
- Website: www.SebreePhoto.com
- Instagram: SebreePhoto