contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

San Francisco, CA
United States


Light in Dark Places: Passion and Pain


Light in Dark Places: Passion and Pain

sean mcclelland

[13]  I am passionate about photography, and the Light in Dark Places collection is a result of this passion. If you ask an artist to define their passion, you'll probably get an answer that either doesn't make a lot of sense, or one that is a total line of b.s. that they created when trying to survive art school. Passion is not something that can be easily defined. It just happens. It just is. When I pressed the shutter on my shiny new Canon Rebel XTi  for the first time in 2007, I thought to myself, "Holy s#!t, this is it. This is what I have to do." I just knew it, all at once, and I've been taking pictures (and messing about with them in Photoshop) ever since.

The Hunters
The Hunters

Along the way, however, there is always a little pain mixed in with this passion. For example, I worked on the image shown above, titled "The Hunters," for months on end. I tried incorporating different shapes, different backgrounds, and different colors, but no matter what I did, it lacked coesion and balance. Like a writer with writer's block, I would stare at it for hours, becoming more and more frustrated. Finally, I dropped it from the collection, and moved on. Maybe I was trying too hard, I don't know, but it nearly killed my entire collection before it got started. That was a painful process, and I lost a lot of time. And now that it's too late to make prints for the show, of course, this image is finally coming together. (If you like where it's headed, check back later because it'll be finished and available for sale on my website soon.)

Photography is on a very short list of passions that I have in my life, along side downhill skiing, animal rights, and a few other things that are none of your business (ha). I have a very simple system for separating my passions from my hobbies:

1. Unexpected time travel. I do almost all of work at night, and when I get into a groove, time loses its hold on me. Hours feel like minutes, and only stop to sleep when I'm on the verge of exhaustion. I become completely mesmerized and invigorated when I'm looking through the view finder in my camera, and even more so once I start manipulating my images in Photoshop. Before I know it, it's 2 in the morning.

Poet and good friend LJ Moore recently interviewed me while I was working on a photo shoot in my studio [apartment]:

2. I can't imagine life without it. If you were to tell me, tomorrow, that I'm going blind, or losing the ability to control my hands, I would immediately begin searching for new ways to make images. I am incapable of imagining a life without photography (I just tried, and it totally didn't work)! We can all hope to possess the strength of artists like Pete Eckert and Francis Tsai, who didn't let blindness or ALS stop them from making art. These guys are a huge inspiration to me.

3. The pain is a good pain. When I'm making photos, or assembling digital images in the digital darkroom, I'm not humming to myself and sipping on a cocktail. No, I'm entrenched, engrossed, and focused. I hunch over my camera or computer screen like an obsessed crazy person. I experience a great deal of stress when things don't go as planned (which is 95% of the time), and I swear, a LOT. When I encounter problems, I attack them, and preserver, and keep at it until a solution presents itself, no matter how long it takes. It's a painful process for me, but it's a good pain. In fact, I must rather enjoy the pain, because I'm constantly challenging myself to try new things.

4. The opinions of others don't stop no show. When I'm finally done with an image, I feel completely... relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my mind, and I can finally relax for a moment. If others see my work, and pay me compliments, it makes me feel good, but the truth is, negative comments will never stop me from making images. Yes, acceptance by others is a motivational factor, but even so, no one can dampen my passion for photography, but me.

What are your passions? How do you define them? How do you experience them?

Go back to blog home