Sean Scott is one of Australia’s most celebrated and inspiring landscape photographers, and a longtime 4WD Touring Australia correspondent.
He’s criss-crossed the continent numerous times in an endless crusade to capture its timeless beauty, and he brings a singular approach to perspective that sets his work in a league of its own.
He has dedicated his life to capturing the perfect images of Australia, from Burleigh to Broome and every dusty road between.
Feast your eyes on a curated selection of Sean’s work as he shares some thoughts on what makes, and how to capture, the perfect shot.
What makes a good photograph?
I have always said a good photograph does not need to be described. If you see it like it and get it then it’s a good photo. If you have to point things out in the photo then it might be an interesting photo but not one I would share publicly.
What should I be looking for in capturing a truely special photo?
Whatever makes you feel good and what you want to share with the world. Everybody likes to show people things and a photograph is the best way to do this. If you get inspired by things then learn how to capture what inspires you and share that with your audience.
If I want to get a little deeper into photography, what is the minimum equipment I need to have?
Just some form of camera that allows you to shoot manual settings. Any entry level DSLR or the new mirrorless cameras are more than good enough. At the end of the day it’s still only capturing light and they all do that as good as each other.
I own a basic DSLR camera, what settings should I have it on for; A) Beach,B) Mountains, C) Outback, D) Rainforest?
All on manual if you really want to be in control. You need to understand what shutter speeds are and to know if you can hand hold the camera with the setting you have chosen.
When its getting darker sometimes you need to allow more time for the light to get into the camera and then you need to slow that shutter down which can result in blurred out of focus looking images if your subject is moving, or if your hand is.
A tripod is a must at some point, and just understanding the relationship between these setting is the key. I am making it sound more difficult than it is, but there are basically three settings you can play with: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
The right combination produces the perfectly exposed photo, but there are are lot of different combinations given the light you’re working with, to give you the style of photo that you are after.
All cameras have these three settings and they’re all you really need to learn. Nothing else can change your photo. Automatic modes just pick the combinations for you.
At the start I would work between automatic modes and then manual modes just so you can work out what is going on.
What piece of information or advice do you wish you were told when you first started out as a photographer?
Maybe that you don’t need to get caught up with the gear you are using. For great landscape photographs you don’t need anything fancy. The higher end lenses and cameras are helpful for fast action sport where you might want to shoot 13 frames a second instead of five, or the big zoom lenses provide much finer detail, but for general landscape photography they are all about the same.
How does the James Baroud rooftop tent setup help in your photography?
The rooftop tent has been a game-changer for me. I have used various rooftop tents with my 4WD setups, but I have never seen one as good and as quick as the James Baroud to pack up.
That’s the biggest thing for me. I am usually camped out in locations I want to shoot, and after big days on the road I don’t always want to get up for sunrise, but with the James Baroud, there have been plenty of times that I have just looked out the window and seen the potential for a great sunrise, then been able to get out of bed, packed up and on the move in minutes.
It also allows me to camp vitually anywhere I can get my truck. That means I have been able to live work and shoot on location.
What is the best overall lens for use in the Australian climate?
That always changes. I like the 16-35mm for landscape, 24-105mm for helicopter, 70-200mm for portrait work.
Then I use a 100-400mm for surf and wildlife on the move. I use a lot more lenses if I want to be really picky and get super high detail for large prints, but they’re not really needed for general photos you share on social media.
When taking a photo, what aspects should I be looking out for to nail my best photo?
I always try and take a photo that gives the perspective that you are there. Keep some foreground in the shot and try and shoot at that golden hour. Being the first and last hours of light in the day.
What motivates you in your photography at the moment?
Mother Nature keep me motivated. It takes a lot to be in the right place at the right time with everything perfectly in place. When these times happen it’s incredible and that is the magic that I chase. Because it doesn’t work out that well that often it keeps you searching and inspires me to be out. Plus its always and great lifestyle just being in nature even when the shots are not working out as planned.
What is your favourite part of Australia to photograph?
Tough one. Everywhere has it’s moments. I love the clear skies of the outback. I love the perfect surf of the coast. I love the underwater clarity of the island and the Western Australia coastline and I basically love every location I take my James Baroud roof top tent and photography truck and just hit the road looking for that next image and enjoying all the part in between.