Many people were introduced to Sean Maung’s work from the incredible Nike Cortez ad campaign he recently shot but he has been a legend in the L.A. photography scene for years. He thoughtfully and effortlessly captures the unique texture of life in Los Angeles and beyond. We are really excited to feature his work on the website and hope you enjoy the interview. You can find more of his work at his website: http://fascinations83.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/olskoolsean/.
Please tell our audience a bit about who you are.
I’m compassionate . I love home cooked meals . I try and stay balanced with everything in life .
What initially inspired you to pick up a camera? How long have you been shooting?
I got inspired by the spontaneity of life and the camera being a tool to showcase that life to others. Also I have always been inspired by place. And the camera gives me a reason to explore. I had spent the summer in Alaska working on a set netting boat catching salmon. After the summer I landed in Seattle for a couple weeks. With some of my earnings; I got a classy Dobs fedora, a bottle of Henny and a used Olympus OM1. That was in 2005. So I have been shooting for about 12 years.
What is your connection to the city of Los Angeles and how does it influence your approach to photography? Are you originally from L.A.? If not, how did you come to call the city home?
My connection to LA starts with my mother and father. My mother is from Panorama City in the Valley and my father emigrated to L.A. from Burma in the late 70’s. I grew up in Mid-City and currently reside in East Hollywood. L.A. has been very influential on how I approach photography primarily from a social stand point. Everything from the experiences of growing up in the city to the dynamics of people to the multiculturalism to the sub-cultures to the expression and energy. It created a mind state on how I vibe with people as a whole.
The first time that I came across your work was in a zine. How did you get into publishing zines? What is it that draws you to that format?
To me it’s about the freedom to create your own work. I never wanted to rely on anyone to validate or justify my work and tell me it’s good enough to publish. I can self publish and control my own message and art.
Tell us a bit about the work you submitted. Is this part of a particular project or set?
It represents the overall vibe of my work. Hopefully people look at that work or any of my work and imagine and think and wonder.
Trust seems like it is a huge factor in your work. How do you build/maintain a relationship with the people you photograph?
Trust is essential. And I have to have people trust me to let me take their photo. To achieve this, I believe in being egoless and completely sincere.
Favorite camera/film to shoot with? If so, why?
I can’t say I have a favorite camera, I have been using that Olympus OM1 for a long time. The past year or so I have been shooting with a Contax 645 medium format and I will have a point and shoot on me as well. As for film , I use a lot of 400 Tri-X and Portra. But I can’t say I have favorites.
Are there any current/upcoming projects that people should be on the lookout for?
I have been shooting gay Latino cowboys for the past couple months. That is the main project I have been working on.