3 Minutes with Photographer Sean McCormack

3 Minutes with Photographer Sean McCormack


Fashion photography has always had a magical aura to it, as it accentuates the best of design and human form. In addition to the expected attention to lighting and shooting there is a great deal of artistry added to each shot with special care given to photo design and post-production that reflects the artistic eye of the photographer. The late Richard Avedon is perhaps one of the most famous fashion photographers, but as interest in DIY off-camera lighting intensifies and digital technologies continue to push the boundaries of creative possibilities new and creative talent continues to emerge. One such photographer is Sean McCormack who is today’s guest on “3  Minutes with…”

1. Describe your photography in 100 words or less.
I’m passionate about light in my photography, be it ambient or fully controlled in the studio. I love mood and drama and creating it where it wouldn’t otherwise exist. For fashion, it’s all about the clothes: shape, form & texture. The whole works. And it’s about the team, your stylist, makeup artist and hair stylist. It really is a collaboration, making more than the sum of your parts.

2. What gear/software do you use?
Camera wise I’m a Canon system user, but I also shoot film on a Mamiya 645j. For lighting, I’m using Elinchrom generally, with the Quadra system making up my location lighting. I do shot Strobist style with speedlights too. It’s all about the tool that fits the job. Software wise, I use Lightroom for most of my work and Photoshop where more extensive retouching is required. Recently I’ve been doing a lot more compositing as well.

3. What’s one quick tip that you’d give people interested in fashion photography?
Find a team, especially a stylist. Ultimately they’re the ones that choose and make the clothes look great. Hair and Makeup finish the look and then you use that to complete your vision.

4. What 3 Photography Sites or Photo blogs do you recommend?
Design Scene and Fashion Gone Rogue are great sites for seeing current fashion magazine work. As for fashion photographers, Melissa Rodwell’s Fashion Photography Blog is pure gold. She’s not prolific writing wise, but when she does post, it’s worth taking a break for.

To view more of Sean’s photography visit his web site at http://seanmcfoto.com

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Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

Some Older Comments

  • Paul February 29, 2012 03:14 am

    I agree with rahul, it's a great photo. I guess it composited?

  • Rahul January 27, 2012 10:41 am

    I'm intrigued by the first picture. In the background, I see the light streak on the street, which tells me that the shutter was open for slightly longer duration. The model, however, doesn't show any motion blur where she is clearly moving her skirt/lower part of dress in twist motion. There are 3 visible shadows meaning 3 different light sources (2 in front and one in the back of model diagonally opposite of right light source).

    If not post-processed, how did Sean McCormack achieved the perfect freeze motion on the model?

  • Olivia January 27, 2012 09:35 am

    Cool article and great photos. I agree that for amazing fashion photography you need to have a great team around you and great light, and that's still something I need to work even harder on. Good stylists are especially difficult to track down. Anyway, you can have a look at some of my attempts on my blog: http://reverine.wordpress.com/

  • David Thompson January 27, 2012 07:22 am

    Thanks for the tips Sean. Very nice use of light and colours. Who is the model in "EithneDublin_600_web.jpg"? Great job.

  • THE aSTIG @ CustomPinoyRides.com January 25, 2012 07:49 pm

    Love the photos, especially the first one! Thanks for sharing your insights that "it's all about the team". Fashion Photography is not really my expertise.

    I do Car Photography for http://CustomPinoyRides.com

    Recently, I've been looking into getting into Fashion Photography so that I can have models with the cars that I photograph. But I never knew that the secret sauce was to work with the right stylist, make up artist, and hair stylist to get things done to complete the vision you had in your head. Thanks for sharing this as this will go a long way into improving my photography. Cheers!

  • Erik Kerstenbeck January 25, 2012 05:53 pm


    I love this article - off camera flash and attention to backgrounds is something I need to work on. I recently picked up some strobe gear from Quantum and have been very happy with the resuls!

    One Pro said, "Expose the background, then Light the Model with your Strobes". I have heard other advice..any suggestions?

    Anyway, here is an experiment with some stobes, just having fun with one of our Models and a shot of my lighting setup.


  • raghavendra January 25, 2012 05:15 pm

    photography is all about light!

  • PhotographersOnUTube January 25, 2012 10:43 am

    Good read and great pictures! I do mostly family portraits and wedding photography but I'd love to give fashion photography a shot next year.