In my photography I have met some of the most amazing people from across the world right here in Co. Donegal and across the country. I have met people from all over the world and made so many great friends and learned so much about people and different destinations. Several years ago when I started my photography workshops and tours here in Ireland I wanted to do something different from what was being done before. Not your usual run of the mill photography workshops, I wanted something different something uniquely distinctive from what was being done in the past.
Through my photography I want to create storytelling with amazing locations and people. My idea when I started these photography experiences was what would be my ideal dream workshop or photography tour, I jotted these down on a notepad and decided if I was a visitor to the area what would I like to see and do? Would it be landscape, what models would I like to photograph, where would I like to eat, what would a visitor like to experience. Storytelling in any shape or form depends on a good narrative and good characters and this is how Sean came into the stories. One of my passions along with photography is music, all different types but I love traditional music, a real good lively upbeat tempo and friends all playing together nothing too serious. I wanted characters in my photography storytelling that you know when you see them straight away that that your looking at a scene in Ireland. Here in Ireland throughout the centuries storytelling has been a big part of Irish life, folklore, ghost stories, events that have happened in the past have all be handed down from generation to generation. One of the things that I wanted on my first workshops that I organised with Elena Shumilova when she came from her home in Russia to my village here in Donegal was I wanted amazing characters.
I knew Sean to see, not personally at the time but from the traditional Irish music scene where he had played before, I thought there was a great story with this man and I made contact with him and asked him would he be interested in being a model on my first International workshop. I explained to him what I had in mind and he was more than happy to help out. I used to see Sean now and again in his blue bus and a few months ago a video was made about Sean and his bus. You can see the video below.
Sean is a fine musician and singer and I have heard him many times playing and singing in different sessions, he is a person I have noticed that always seems to have a crowd around him. Like most musicians Sean is always very welcoming to others to join in, sit down, take out your fiddle, guitar or accordion or what ever you have with you at the time and join in the craic. He is a man that all ages get on with very very well, from young children, to teenagers and older people as well.
Sean has been in a video produced by Connla for their song Wayfaring Stranger
Connla members are, Ciaran Carlin - Whistles
Flute Conor Mallon - Uilleann Pipes
Whistles Emer Mallon - Harp
Ciara McCafferty - Vocals
Bodhran Paul Starrett - Guitar
Really great sound and style of music and a great video as well, which was filmed in and around the Malin Head area, one of the most scenic, beautiful and unspoilt areas in Ireland. If your in the area call into the Seaview Tavern and Farren’s bar two amazing places to visit on your travels.
Sean has a great way with children and adults alike and especially children seem to be very very good when he is around. They listen to him and are the perfect models, to this day I still don’t know what the magic is :)
I have noticed something about Sean this last few years that I have known him, when ever photographers come here to do a workshop or tour , where you find Sean you will always see a crowd around him. He is always in great form and always has a good word for everyone. The two pictures below are two images that I always remember, Elena Shumilova the famous Russian photographer who comes to Donegal here in Ireland every year and Sean together. You can see how happy and relaxed the two of them are, it does not matter what the weather is like these two are always smiling and a great team. As soon as I saw Sean I knew he would be a great part of our team and I think what you see here in the two images sums up how happy anybody that comes here feels.
Two great people I have met this last few years here in Donegal Elena Shumilova and Sean.
I love watching the little models faces when Sean is around, many of the photographers that come here ask how long have the children known Sean, are they related? I always have the same reply, today just a few minutes ago was the first time they have met him. Really…….are you serious? is what people always reply. The children really are so well behaved when Sean is around, not in a scared way by no means but they feel so at ease when Sean is with them. There seems to be a great calming effect when he is about, quietly spoken but the children listen to him.
For me and many other people one of the most iconic images of Sean is this one of him and a little girl on the beach here in Donegal. This is one of Elena Shumilova’s images. You can see the little spellbound looking at Sean. There is a real strong connection there as you see the little girl gazing up at him. This is something I don’t think you can act out, its real and natural.
The Doagh Famine Village in the Isle of Doagh in Clonmany and the general area makes for the most amazing special and unique backdrop setting you could ask for. If you are looking to spend a couple of hours with the family I can highly recommend this place its amazing!
Sean has also been involved in the making of two major TV series !
You just never know where he will appear on TV in the future. There has been so many great moments with Sean he is a man that is very much young at heart. Another moment that I remember was inside the Doagh famine village and we were getting ready for the photoshoot, all the photographers were in a line waiting to shake hands with him. Another time was when Sean and this young model were walking across a beautiful beach here in this area just outside the Doagh famine village and we asked him to walk over and back a few times so we could get them walking together. Out of the blue Sean gave a lovely little dance as he walked and had this young girl laughing so much she couldn’t stop. Sean knows exactly how to put people at ease and make them relax and get the best out of people.
In his own words “these days making people smile is very important as they don’t get much opportunity” this is so true!
Photography is about storytelling, and you need a good story line, amazing locations and even more amazing characters, then is when the magic happens.
Here in Donegal we have it all.