JRP: Sean Armenta gives us some of his insights during this installment of JRP Blog. Thank you Sean for sharing time with our readers.
Sean Armenta: Thank you so much for considering me for this feature. I’m very honored.
JRP: Where do you call home Sean?
Sean Armenta: California has always been my home, though I’ve lived in Vancouver, BC and Manila, Philippines as well.
JRP: How did you get your start in photography? Was there any formal training in your background?
Sean Armenta: Photography was my mom’s hobby and I grew up around it as a kid. She taught me the basics of exposure and manual camera controls early on. I have albums upon albums of childhood photos that my mom took of me. Looking back she was a really great portrait photographer. I learned off her Nikon F2 and basically shot that to the ground. Other than that, I didn’t have any formal training aside from one class in high school for BW developing and printing.
JRP: How big is your support staff and what areas do they handle?
Sean Armenta: I have some great people who work with me, most of them are my good friends who also share my passion for photography. They help me a great deal with assisting during photo shoots and for marketing. They usually start out as interns, and if I see potential, they intern for about a month and I see if they will be a good fit with my team. I’m very picky when it comes to assistants. They have to have a “do whatever it takes” attitude. We’re a very tight knit group and clients always compliment me on my team. Right now I have four assistants.
JRP: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor and why?
Sean Armenta: I shoot with a Canon 5D and I own three lenses, a 50mm 1.4, an 85mm 1.8, and a 180mm 3.5L Macro. Lighting wise I shoot with Speedotron Blackline gear on 1200 and 2400 w/s packs. I have a wide range of modifiers, but currently my favorites are the Elinchrom Octabank, a 22″ Speedotron Beauty Dish, and an Altman theatrical spot. I go through my lighting phases. For months I’ll be in love with a particular light quality and explore using that as much as possible. Then I’ll move on to the next thing. I like to know the complete workings of a modifier so I can feel I really understand how it shapes light.
JRP: Could you please describe your digital work-flow and the software you use?
Sean Armenta: I shoot tethered into Phase One’s Capture One software at the shooting stage. I also use Capture One to process my RAW files before I bring them into Photoshop for retouching. In addition, I use Imagenomic’s Portraiture and Noiseware Pro plugins in my retouching workflow.
JRP: Do you personally print your images?
Sean Armenta: The only time I really print anything is either for my portfolio, wherein I just use Costco prints, or for my studio to put up on the wall. For that I’ll have a lab print out lightjets and mount them on gator-board. I leave the printing of commercial work to the client.
JRP: With today’s economy please share with us how you keep your productive and creative edge.
Sean Armenta: I have to be very proactive about constantly keeping my work in front of both current and potential clients. I also regularly produce spec editorial pieces in order to keep my work fresh, current, and relevant. I’m forever trying to improve my portfolio, and it’s been a wonderful process so far.
JRP: Do you have any memorable images or shoots, and please share with us what made that image or shoot special?
Sean Armenta: You know, I honestly can’t just choose one. This is what I love about the industry I am in. It’s never the same thing twice. Even with a client like Wet Seal, where we pretty much shoot the same catalog type imagery in the studio, each shoot presents its own challenges to deal with. More than that, it’s the amazingly dynamic and creative people that I am lucky enough to work with that make this job so great. Whether I am shooting a test shoot or an international campaign, I treat each shoot the same, and that is to bring everything I can to the table and do my best.
JRP: Share with us some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Sean Armenta: Don’t ever get comfortable, and to me this meant to never really be satisfied. To always strive for better and to continue learning and improving your art.
JRP: What special advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Sean Armenta: Keep your overhead low and save as much money as possible. Don’t get in the habit of buying unnecessary gear.
JRP: Thank you Sean for taking the time to share your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure.
Sean Armenta: You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure.
JRP: To view more of Sean Armenta’s photography please follow these links: