Sean Murray ‘falls’ for landscape photography
Every passion is sparked by an avid interest. And for Sean Murray, it was no different. What started out as a cause for creating family and friends’ photos resulted in a whirlwind experience when he pictured nature through his camera. This edition of Beyond The Lens features Murray’s majestic journey into landscape, travel and astrophotography.
In his early 20s, Murray purchased a small Sony ‘point and shoot’ and began experimenting with the great outdoors, including flowers, textures, even cracks in the ground. But the hobby took a passionate turn when he discovered a Jamaican-based Flickr photography group going on a road trip to Portland and decided to tag along. Little did he know that he would fall for landscape photography at first sight. “Here, I got my first taste of landscape photography while taking images of Somerset Falls and some of Portland’s landscape. I was hooked. It was on this trip that I learned about manually controlling camera settings (ISO, shutter speed and aperture) and found that my basic camera wasn’t enough for me to master these settings,” he explained further.
In that moment, he made the decision to take the chance, save some money and buy his first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. He has been creating breathtakingly beautiful history ever since.
Close to eight years later, Murray has carved a niche for himself, taking on a thriving career in information technology, working on the side as a wedding and travel photographer. He has provided pictures for one of Jamaica’s largest magazines. Working with clients, he describes the overall experience as being both educational and stressful, but ultimately rewarding. “I honestly wouldn’t consider myself a full professional photographer. I’ve retired from client work for now in an attempt to strike a balance between my nine-to-five and personal projects,” he added. These include maintaining travel but focusing more on landscape and astrophotography.
When asked why he chose to venture into that particular pictorial trifecta, he confessed that they chose him. “I’ve always been enthralled by nature and I could literally spend hours photographing one location to get the best shot. I think seeing epic landscape and travel wallpapers in my youth may have contributed to that, along with later discovering my role models earlier on in my photography journey.” These role models, international photographers Daniel Kordan and Michael Shainblum, have been his main sources of inspiration.
Astrophotography, according to Murray, is the photography of celestial objects such as the moon, stars, galaxies, meteor showers and more. For him, it is generally capturing the Milky Way’s galactic centre, over unique Jamaican landscape. “My photographic style is to capture Jamaica in ways that it hadn’t been seen before and it just so happened that some of my peers locally were attempting astrophotography. I researched the topic, found epic images and experimented over a two-year period to get to where I am now.” The journey has taken him to epic places, allowing him to meet interesting people, given him access and opportunities that he wouldn’t have normally, along with providing some unusual stories, he declared with a laugh.
Among his favourite photo shoots is capturing the galactic center over Floyd’s Pelican Bar in St Elizabeth. Visiting in time for sunset, he captured images right until about 9:30 that night. The boat ride back in darkness with only the stars and the distant city lights was also interesting for the photographer.
The passions of landscape, travel, astrophotography, architecture, candids and action sports, for Murray, have so far been refreshing and have functioned as a great release from the stresses of life. “I think I enjoy the process of creating images in the field. It is an experience and obsession unlike any other.”
The main obstacle local photographers face, Murray states, is that their art is not valued in Jamaica. Value system starts from within and since there are those who don’t value their own work, selling out at the cheapest dollar, this sets the bar low for others trying to raise the standard in maximising value. “What keeps me motivated to explore and photograph Jamaica is the desire to capture the best possible images possible of each location. I have a couple of business ideas and projects that involve photography as a tool but let’s see how that plays out.”
Beyond the lens, Murray is also interested in latin dancing (salsa on1, mambo and bachata, while dabbling in kizomba) weight training and travel.
He encourages aspiring photographers to research “Youtube and Google” everything photography. Be sure to practice and experiment with your camera as much as you research. Knowledge is useless without consistent application. The key basics that I recommend everyone learn about camera settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO), the effect that they’ll have on your images and how to use them to achieve the images that you want.
If you have fallen in love with Murray’s photos here, his most recent work can be found on Instagram: @seanemurray or you can view the best of his work: www.seanemurray.com.