Hi Sean, tell us a little bit about you?
I’m Sean C. Rice, from San Pedro, CA. I’m a photographer/director in the automotive/lifestyle industry. I also work as a digital composite artist for various agencies, brands, photographers and celebrities. I studied at Art Center College of Design in the photography department and have almost 20 years of experience. I’m a hands-on leader in creative concepting and strategy development. I have extensive understanding of marketing ad brand objectives, and of the value of effective communications. I’m guided by my passion to tell stories with my imagery. I believe great ideas are achieved with creative problem solving, innovation – and pouring craft into an idea to push creative boundaries. I take pride in getting the job done right for each and every client... and have fun doing it.
When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer?
I had spent most of my time growing up as an illustrator. While attending Pasadena City College (just out of High School), I applied to Art Center College of Design and was rejected. Back then you’d sign up for City College classes over the phone with course codes. I put in the wrong code and ended up in a photo class. I always had a curiosity about how you got from the click of a camera to an actual photo in the dark room, so I stayed in the class. As soon as I discovered the magic of printing photos in the dark room, I was hooked. Being an illustrator, it took days to compose a drawing or a painting but with photography I could create an image and print it in the same day. That next semester I applied to Art Center for Photography and got in with a scholarship. That’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
You’re inspired by who or what?
Nature. With the pandemic I found myself one-on-one with my laptop or my cell phone and it really killed all motivation for me, I just didn’t want to want to go out and shoot. So, I spent a lot of time hiking or cycling around the hills of Palos Verdes, most of it with my daughter. Being outside and seeing the way light interacted with my environment, my daughter or even the inside of my home really got me motivated to want to recreate that beauty with my camera.
How has the pandemic affected you?
It has sucked the life out of me. I struggle with sleep, consistency with diet, and exercise, on top of trying to raise a child with my wife, who just got her Masters in Gerontology from USC. Trying to re-enter the marketplace has been a real challenge. A lot of car companies aren’t rushing out to create new content, so a lot of my time was spent doing composite work (along with a few cars shoots), like the viral split screen Nike campaign that launched before the end of the year. At the end of the day, this is what I do, and no matter how hard it gets I’ll continue to do what I love because this is who I am, and I’ll do whatever it takes to continue doing that.
What is your take on the future of advertising?
This is probably horrible to say here, but I think the word “Advertising” is a tainted word. I think the word is associated with a very old-school way of doing things, a time when racism and sexism was perceived as tongue-in-cheek within the industry. I think it’s one of the reason people want change today. Due to this cultural shift people don’t want to be “advertised to” anymore. They want to be inspired, they want to be immersed in culture, and they want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves. I think this is the reason you see companies like Delta and Coca-Cola chiming in over voter laws in Georgia. They’re not just selling a product anymore they’re using their platform for change and I think you’re going to see that spill out into the way that content is being created in the future.
A run-down of the most fulfilling campaign you worked on...?
Launching the 2021 Land Cruiser for Toyota. I have a reputation for shooting dark colored vehicles (at night), which is a challenge because you can’t light black vehicles you have to use their shiny surfaces to reflect light into them, which is why this campaign was so rewarding. The client went back to the old logo for this classic vehicle, and they really wanted it to exist in its natural environment. It gave us an opportunity to really take this vehicle deep into the mountains and push it like it was meant to be pushed. The added bonus was getting to do all the composite work myself, which gave me the opportunity to take all of my favorite elements from the shoot and use them in theway that, I felt, worked best for each image.
Which do you prefer, still or motion?
As a digital composite artist, I’d have to say that creating the still image is the most satisfying for me personally. The end goal is to evoke emotion from the viewer or at the audience, but with still imagery I have to rely a lot on the body’s visual sense along with the viewers own personal experiences... whereas with motion I get to use the visual and audible senses to stimulate the viewers emotions. It’s a very different creative experience but I enjoy them both very much.
Instagram or Facebook or ...?
I’m not a huge fan of either, but I prefer Instagram.
What would your ideal job be or consist of?
With everything that I have said about culture and advertising, I would love the opportunity to be able to take a vehicle on a road trip (with either myself or a group of people) and travel across the US performing acts of kindness. A lot of brands talk about how great they are or how “the best” they are at something, so doing these things to me speaks volumes to a brands integrity. I could be delivering water to homes in Flint, MI to driving people to voting stations in Atlanta, GA. There are just so many opportunities for companies to create real viral moments with their products rather than create pretty photos that they think the viewer wants to see.
Represented by Robert Bacall
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