13.6 C
Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

My neighbour Sean – photographer of the Bay

Latest News

Head-on crash car traveling in wrong direction

Police say that two men are in hospital after an accident on the M1 overnight, when emergency services responded to reports of a crash involving two cars near Clothiers Creek

Other News

Interview with Jean Kittson

Comedian, writer, and social commentator Jean Kittson has the ability to distil complex ideas into commonsense. Jean is one of the national treasures in conversation with Mandy Nolan and Fiona O’Loughlin at No Eggs for Breakfast, a comedic chat themed around life beyond fertility! It seemed remiss not to ask Ms Kittson on her take on the debacle that is federal politics and gender equity.

Help from Red Cross for flood-affected communities in NSW

With disasters coming thick and fast as the climate emergency worsens, Australian Red Cross this morning launched financial help for flood-affected communities in NSW.

Rocky Creek Field Day coming in July

As part of the Rural Landholder Initiative, rural landholders in the Rocky Creek area are invited to an Off-stream Watering and Riparian Habitat Field Day.

Poor Council drains

Kate Anderson, Mullumbimby In response to and support of Kerry Gray’s and Robin Gracie’s letters Echo 31 March). The McGoughans Lane...

Getting the right stuff in your bins in the Tweed

Tweed Council is asking residents to be more careful with what waste they put in which bin – a surprising amount of the area's refuse, both recycling and landfill, ends up in the wrong receptacle.

Flawed plan

Kai Beijerbacht, Mullumbimby For those of you who haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware of the...

Photo Sean O'Shea
Photo Sean O’Shea

Phillip Frazer

Sean O’Shea is a cheerful bloke, can be serious too. He takes photographs, mostly of the sea, the surf, and the humans and animals who interact there. Through social media, these photos are viewed and loved by countless people around the world. But to be honest, Sean doesn’t look like he belongs to the surfer community, nor the glamour photographer set. That’s because Sean’s neither. He’s an artist.

Up until five years ago Sean painted intriguing canvases of semi-abstract images – people, animals, buildings, landscapes – and was making a good living from his art, living in the Byron industrial estate with his partner Tracey.

Then, in 2012, Sean got a good (but not fancy) camera to take shots of his paintings before they were sent overseas. One morning he went to Tallow Beach and saw dolphins threading their way through the waves beyond the break, so he strode into the surf to get a closer look, camera in hand. A bloke in a wetsuit was sitting on his board looking toward the dolphins, and Sean was just a few metres behind when, suddenly, a dolphin launched itself out of a wave. Right there.

He’s looking directly into the eyes of a dolphin who’s looking directly into his eyes. This very large animal is airborne flying toward him as he stands in water up to his chest, both arms aloft, one holding the camera, and Sean snaps a picture of the flying dolphin and the surfer. A picture that changed his life.

That’s when Sean had an epiphany. He understood at this moment that the vast natural world, of creatures and plants of the land, sea and sky, constitutes a profoundly other world than the one we live in when we go to the supermarket to buy milk or sit in a car texting arrangements for lunch. As the dolphin slid again into the sea, he knew this would be the world he would inhabit, in the Bay, taking photos, making videos, because he wants to share this wonder with the rest of us.

Story continues below photos

The photo – Sean’s first – was going viral online, so he sent it to a few newspapers, and although The Echo didn’t print it, the Daily Telegraph did, on page 3. They even gave it a terrific caption – it began ‘It’s the quintessential image of freedom and joy’, which is not a line you often see in the Murdoch tabloids – and that, folks, is how Sean O’Shea began his career as the photographer of the Bay.

Now I know this bloke pretty well because he and Tracey are our neighbours here on Coorabell Ridge. Recently we ganged up and convinced Sean that, despite the millions of people around the world who’ve been wowed by his photographs on Facebook or Instagram, we need a big beautiful book to show his work off at its best, in a more permanent form. He and Tracey have started designing and planning, and next Sunday May 21, their seanoshea.com.au site will launch a crowdfunding drive to get the book on the road.

Check out his amazing photos at SeanOSheaArt. He still uses a modest camera, sometimes in a plastic bag when he’s swimming out in the Bay, and a tripod held together with gaffer tape. Every day he drives off in his 2003 Camry, to stream sunrise and sunset live from the beach.

Sometimes artists need help monetising their talent, just a bit, right?

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Housing crisis and Council

Avital Sheffer, Mullumbimby Population growth in this Shire is inevitable like it or not. Those who are being pushed out by the unfolding housing tragedy are...

Flawed plan

Kai Beijerbacht, Mullumbimby For those of you who haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware of the ever-increasing housing shortage crisis in...

Affordable myth

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads There is a ‘myth of affordable housing’ in Byron Shire. Well may councillors lament the lack of ‘affordable housing’ in Byron Shire but...

Midwife quits

Deb Walsh, Fernleigh It’s become untenable for me to continue working in hospitals. I have quit. I will be deregistered soon by my own choice. Working with...