Sean Scott is one of Australia’s most sought-after landscape, wildlife, and travel photographers whose 20+ year career has taken him to the furthest reaches of Australia and beyond. We caught up with Sean to chat about how he carved his career in outdoor photography, gear, and the importance of just getting out there with the camera.
Sean’s love of photography started on a road trip down the coast to Tasmania. He’d taken along a point and shoot camera, and when he put a roll of film in to be processed, it didn’t turn out. Rather than being deterred, Sean went to the local pawn shop and bought himself an SLR camera.
The interest in photography persisted when Sean returned home. He continued to teach himself through trial and error, using the in-camera meter as a guide, recording settings and reaching out to other photographers for technical guidance.
A surfer at the time, Sean’s earlier work mirrored his love of the ocean. Years of being in the surf had given him an edge in reading the waves, and he was able to capture unique angles not seen from the shoreline.
‘I thought how can I capture this and share it with people, and photography was the answer to me.’
From early on, Sean was keen to share his images with others. He began selling prints at his local beachfront market on the weekends and spent every other spare minute out shooting and learning the technical side of photography. Before long, he had purchased a canvas printer, learned how to print, and even taught himself how to make picture frames.
With market sales proving profitable, Sean decided to open a small gallery at Burleigh Heads to showcase his work. At the time, he was still working a full-time job climbing power poles. As print sales became more regular through the gallery, Sean decided to take a year off his day job and focus on his photography. He never returned to his other day job, and today the gallery, together with tourism work, provides a full-time income.
‘There’s nothing better than being able to get out there, shoot it, come back, edit it and print it out straight away. Literally, I can have a mat board or a frame made and in the gallery the afternoon after I’ve taken it.’
For the first five years, Sean reinvested all of the money he made selling prints back into gear. He purchased professional level cameras, lenses and high-quality printers to produce a premium product that he hoped would set him apart in the market. It worked, and these days Sean has a fully kitted out Landcruiser, jam-packed with an arsenal of camera equipment.
Now entirely in the mirrorless camp, Sean travels with two Canon EOS R5 bodies, an R6 body and the new R3. He has a full suite of RF lenses that he calls on to capture a wide variety of subjects in ever-changing conditions. Sean loves the RF 100-500mm and finds its long focal range versatile for ‘run and gun’ style shooting. For situations that might call for a little more f-stop, Sean has recently grabbed the new RF 400mm f/2.8 and is keen to try it out on wildlife or some big surf. The RF 15-35mm is a regular goto for sunrises, landscapes and shooting in the water and for something a little different when shooting landscapes, Sean will often grab the RF 85mm. Another goto allrounder is the RF 28-70mm f/2.
The kit doesn’t end there. When Sean hits the water to photograph surf or underwater wildlife, he reaches for his Aquatech water housing. He has also picked up both the standard and cine versions of the new DJI Mavic 3, which he uses to scout for locations and unique angles.
‘I use the drone to find something, and then I’ll go back and find out how I can get a helicopter to get there at the right time.’
Sean admits having an enviable collection of the best gear does give him an edge in capturing breathtaking images but stresses it’s more important just to grab the camera you have, get out there, and get shooting.
‘It’s being in the right place at the right time, so it’s just going that extra mile. Like you know you can sit there and go, what’s it going to look like up top of that lookout? You’ve got to go up that lookout, have a look. Or if you’re laying in bed thinking, what’s the sunrise going to be? Get up and go.’
Over the years, Sean has built a substantial social media following and developed strong relationships with Tourism Australia and the various tourism boards around the country. Once he would have to fund his travel to beautiful and intriguing destinations; now, industry and corporate clients finance the trips. And while away, he can explore the location and bring home new images for his gallery.
It’s clear that Sean’s drive to photograph Australia’s vast outback and coastline has not waned over the years. Spending days and even months alone in his truck, searching for alluring compositions and beautiful light, is not draining for Sean. He draws inspiration from it, propelling him to find his next great shot, whether from the land, in the air or beneath the waves.
‘It’s the search that opens your eyes to all the beautiful stuff that’s always around you.’
Check out our entire conversation here to learn more about Sean and his photography career.