Sean Litchfield

Where are you From/based?

I'm from Cape Cod but I live in Boston now.

What is your background in photography, what got you into it?

From as early as I can remember I've been interested in art. I think my earliest photography memory was when I photographed my stuffed animals against a handkerchief with my Mickey Mouse camera. It wasn't until I got my first SLR at the age of 16 that I knew it was something I wanted to learn more about. I'm a very visual person and was never any good at drawing, though I drew quite extensively, so I think photography was a way for me to remember what was important to me. I think that's still what drives my work to this day.

What equipment do you use?

The majority of my work is made with a Mamiya RZ67. I love everything about that camera; the weight/bulk, the waist-level viewfinder, the format and the thuds and cranking sounds it makes. I've dabbled in 4x5 and smaller formats but the RZ feels completely natural to me. I do, of course, use DSLRs quite frequently and they're pretty okay.

What is your creative process? Do you go out with an idea of what you want to capture?

That really depends on what I'm shooting. I try not to clutter my mind with too much when I'm making work, especially if it's something new. There's certainly things that I look for when I'm out and I try not to think about them too deeply. The last thing I want is to over-think what I'm photographing. It could make me hyper-aware of it and potentially keep me from making the image I saw initially. With projects like "The Tragic and Picturesque American Suburb", I referenced Hudson River School paintings before I made the pictures. That definitely helped me see the landscape in a similar way. But with "Off-Season" I only had my childhood memories of what Cape Cod was like in the Winter to go by. So it definitely varies.

What drives you to keep taking pictures?

I think it goes back to wanting to hold on to things I feel are important to me. I have a horrible memory and I fear I'll likely forget things if I don't photograph them. It's like I didn't have the same experience if I don't have a picture from it to view later on. But is that keeping me from truly experiencing something? Could I just be? I'm not really sure how I feel about it.

Could you tell us a little about your series 'The Tragic and Picturesque American Suburb'.

Of course! First off, it's a collaboration with my boyfriend, Zach. We've been wanting to work on a project together for a while but we wanted it to be something we were both unfamiliar with. So that brought us to South Carolina. My parents moved there about 5 years ago and I made several trips before I started photographing there. I knew that I could make pictures there I just didn't know of what. So we spent week down there driving around, Zach wrote and I photographed, together but not really talking about it. It wasn't until the third trip that we figured out what we were trying to say. It's still a work in progress. I'm not convinced it's the sort of project that I can ever stop working on. But it's on hold for the moment as Zach finishes his PhD and a million other things.

Who or what inspires you?

Lots of things! Personal experiences, plenty of contemporary photographers, art in general, etc. It's really just a stew of everything I see and do.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

Other than 'TPAS' not really. There's an idea that I've been thinking about a lot lately so I want to put in some time with it and see where it goes.

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