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Shannon Sewell's Family Photos Aren't JCPenney Pictures

The girls over at [Framed] have started a really great web series that profiles photographers and shows them in action behind the scenes. In this video they dive into children photography with Shannon Sewell. I know a lot of photographers have made a side business out of shooting families and children but what Shannon is doing is completely different. Her images are straight up commercial in style and are really amazing to look at. Children can be really really tough to work with which makes me appreciate her ability to connect with and control her subjects. And if you are interested in the Photoshop Actions Shannon uses you can check them out over at Flourish Actions. What do you guys think about her statement at 13:30?

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Mike Ledford's picture

"1...2...3... Boobies!" @ around 7:05. Funny, but who says that to kids?

Josh R.'s picture

Sounds like B.S. to me. The people who remove the art from photography and focus on the business can be successful but the real great, the superstars of the photoworld if you will, are the people who have developed an artistic style and continue to push the art. In fact it sounds like it is exactly what she has done. She was successful doing what others wanted her to do but she is much more successful now that she has come back to the art.

Patrick Hall's picture

@Josh R., I think there is room for both though. It sort of troubles me that at the beginning she says they are struggling to pay bills and her savings are depreciating. If you have so much business shooting canned, uninspiring family photos then you can afford to raise your prices to the point where it's worth shooting them but you are only taking on a few of the highest paying clients. Dominate the high paying market with your client work and use your free time to explore your creative personal work.

Josh R.'s picture

@Patrick Hall Admin, Of course there is room for both. You can make a nice living creating mediocre art and running a good business and in order to be successful you have to be good at the business. The people that really make it to the top though are the ones that make real art and find a way to sell that. If you try to focus on the business and pander than you will only make it so far.

Dustin Finn's picture

I think in the beginning she is talking about how she is starting out, just after the first kid and then a second, not much money with her being home but she couldnt bring herself to go back to work and leave them... hence the photography start...

At 7:05, its her kids, she's showing how to get the kids loosen up.

At 13:30 which is what we're being quized on feeling about, its tough to decide where you land. If you're passion is photography, and you're paying your bills and making photos you want to make, then you can deem yourself a success against your own standards for success...

The photography community has this awesome way of making you feel like only the most popular are successful and the rest are just squeaking by.. Where there are tons of people out there, paying their bills, have a local following by word of mouth or what-have you and in the end, the WHOLE photography community doesn't know who they are...

Success is almost as subjective as the art itself. If she's doing what she loves, doesn't want to be doing anything else, and making her living on it... then to her thats a success...

should we ask her to open her books and tell us who's really paying for that large warehouse and props ? I'm not gonna care enough unless she starts to have workshops that charge $1500 a weekend with no real math behind it...

Otherwise. I'd love to be a success like her; creating images for a living, be around my daughter more and less behind a monitor in a small cube in the back of an office building...

Patrick Hall's picture

@Dustin Finn, ah you are right, I completely misunderstood that. Thanks for reminding me to watch it again!

Stevens's picture

I think her pictures are very unique. Its takes a lot to get pictures of kids, at least the way she has them.

George's picture

For me, photography has been a passion for over 40 years. I tried it as a business and found that it wasn't what I was interested in. The business also seemed to get in the way of my passion. I was lucky enough to pursue another career choice which coincidentally is also a passion. Since that career funds my photographic endeavors, I am happy with my choices.

As for others, I've seen all combinations. Regardless of success or failure, the important question to me is "are you happy?".

Tomas's picture

That was a good video but it seemed like it was randomly highjacked by the co Host plugging a charity.... Nothing wrong with helping a charity... Just seemed out of place in the middle of someone's interview. Haha

Niccole W's picture

This is the charity plugging co-host. I assure you, no hijacking was intended. One of the concepts behind Framed is to have a local co-host do some of the interview and then get a chance to talk a bit about their own work. I asked if I could talk about Lens of Hope instead of my own work. Shannon is awesome and so is Framed. Hope you tune if for more of their episodes.

Melissa Niu's picture

Heck ya Niccole W! You better believe [FRAMED] loves you and and what you are doing with Lens of Hope!!!!!

I don't believe anyone should ever give an explanation of why they did a plug in for a charity. She's proud of it, the people she is helping are proud of it, the line up of photographers dying to be a part of it are proud of it, and I'm proud of her. :) Thanks fellas of Fstoppers for the feature!

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

This girls photos are great and her connections with kids and photography make this possible. I could be wrong but it is cool how this came about after she had kids and a passion grew.

Carlo Parducho's picture

Where's the like button for this vid?

Simon Fuller's picture

Can't help but think Lightroom would be a smarter approach for this level of editing.

Beach's picture

I really think this is a fantastic look at someone who has figured out one of the keys to one else is going to put forth the effort to make YOU happy; you have to work towards that end yourself. She does beautiful work, and her joy really comes through in the final product.

Russell Turbide's picture

Shannon Sewell Is making a living on one photoshoot a week? I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!
Some replies I read were ranting about being an artist and some other shit.
Artist or not, she's doing fine and I admire her for it.
Her photographs are not only compelling, they show children in a setting that shows personality of the subjects, and she's making a living doing it.

You aint got to be the head cashier at walmart to figure out, if a product sells, well then sell it and make a profit off of it!

Good god, why be a starving artist when you can make a profit and then be a well fed artist?
I think there is plenty of days left to be the artist, that some mentioned in their replies, even if being the "ARTIST" usually doesn't pay the bills...

shannon sewell's picture

just wanted to say thank you SO much for featuring my [framed]spot on here!! it was quite intimidating to put myself out there but the [framed] crew was amazingly sweet & made me feel right at home (on the wrong side of the camera ;)!). i am humbled & flattered that you all watched & took the time to comment- thank you!! never really thought of myself to be in the middle of a business/artist discussion- i don't give it much thought to be honest. i just try to listen to my gut in it all (that means doing what i love/feels right AND keeping food on the table) ;) like the saying goes...

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ~Confucius

happy weekend!! ~S

Carlo Parducho's picture

@shannon sewell,

Confucius said that? oh wow

rachel rumph's picture

i just found framed somehow by mistake last night..and was so happy to see the "great" shannon sewell!...I admire her creativity,style and who she is as a person and this video really got me thinking about my business and how nice it would be to slow down and really focus on what is inspiring to me more...and for the record..i emailed shannon once about a giveaway she did on her blog...and was so shocked that she took the time to write me back..and mutiple times there after ...feeling like she was a friend....I admire her humbleness and continue to look forward to seeing her blog posts....AWESOME Video shannon!
xoxo rachel

Ewils's picture

Awesome video. I concur with what she said at 13:30