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Sean McDonald

13 Sep 2015

Sean McDonald Image

By Jack Hayes

For Sean McDonald, the journey to graduating from the Photography Studies College (PSC) in Southbank has been anything but typical.

The 2014 graduate left a secure marketing job to pursue a career in photography – a decision he says has completely changed his life.

Sean was working a regular nine-to-five in the city, safely coasting through, when he bought a new camera and decided to start studying at PSC.

“I’ll just go and do a six month course and figure how to use it beyond auto mode and then just kept enjoying it and staying longer and longer,” he said.

That six months quickly turned into a year, which turned into two years, then three and finally to graduating with a degree in commercial photography after four years.

The evolution from filing spreadsheets to photographing leading international and Australian artists from John Mayer and Chet Faker, to Cyndi Lauper and touring with Jebediah for their 20th anniversary tour has been one he had never imagined.

“I never plan too far in the future, I never thought I would be at this point a year ago and I never thought I would be at that point the year before that. It’s so exciting to see where two years, five years, 10 years
take me.”

It is this kind of spontaneity that Sean finds the most appealing with photography and PSC provided the perfect platform to turn a hobby into a career.

“I’m sure I will be somewhere totally different to where I thought it would be, which is kind of cool and also knowing that there is a range of possibilities – especially considering where I used to be.”

Now being self-employed and running his own business, Sean says the process has been made much easier with by his commerce background – qualifications, he said, would help him stay ahead of the pack.

“I’m really glad I did the commerce degree because if I did photography straight out of school I would have been useless,” he said.

Leaving the monotony of the corporate world behind, he says, was one of the best decisions he has ever made.

“I know so many guys that go straight into accounting or finance, all those cliché banking corporates and you look at them now and you see how miserable they are and just hate life. Whereas, I love going to work. It’s awesome.”

Sean said the “family vibe” at the college offered a unique chance to learn from and collaborate with some of Melbourne’s up-and-coming photographers.

“You form a pretty cool little bond with all your classmates. Just having a place you can go helps you with your passion, and helps build your skills, which is so rewarding.”

“All the teachers there are great. I used to love going each night and catching up with teachers. There are still some that I keep in contact with.”

Sean is now focussing his attention to an end-of-year trip to New York with his girlfriend. The pair intend to open an exhibition in Melbourne showcasing a male-female, digital-film perspective of the American city.

“I don’t think I will ever get sick of photography or ever get to a point where I feel content, I feel like I can go forever,” he said.

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