In this new and ongoing content series, MISSION is seeking out the best and brightest in the world of travel photography. Beyond curating photo-essays and featuring their work, we will be going ‘Behind the Lens’ with exclusive interviews, tapping into the mind of the professional photographer and their approach to their craft. In this premier addition, we spoke with acclaimed designer and photographer Shaun Fynn, Founder of STUDIOFYNN about his venture into photography and how he goes about capturing the diverse areas in which he travels to.
How did you first become involved with photography? Was there a particular moment that defined your desire to be a photographer?
For many years I have had my own design and research studio and the documentary work evolved from this. Today it has become a practice in its own right so I would say it has been a process of evolution more than a particular moment. I find there are many commonalities between design and photography, as they both require you to be an observer. What differs is the way in which these observations are reflected. Both also require a level of engagement with the subject but for me photography is more immediate and can be more visceral. A single image can be a very powerful vehicle to communicate a story. I think to some degree I have always been a photographer as I gravitate towards it as the way in which I can interpret the world and communicate what I see to others.
As a world traveler, how does your perspective change when trying to capture the diverse places you work in and travel to around the world?
I don't think the camera changes my perspective of the travel experience but it can help focus on or intensify a particular aspect or observation. The camera allows me to capture the experience of travel in very succinct way. I see the world in very visual way so I am always inspired by how different cultures really do reflect their values in such diverse ways. I think we always have to be careful not to make the camera a barrier to experiencing the journey because of capturing the moment. I try to keep this perspective in mind.
In your mind, what constitutes “the perfect shot?”
I am not sure there is a formula for a perfect shot but for me I think it is the alignment of the events, subject and composition. Henri Cartier Bresson spoke about the idea of the decisive moment in an image where things come together only for a brief moment in time and then vanish, usually forever. I am a great admirer of the work of Bresson and also Marc Riboud whose photos of the 1967 Vietnam anti war protest in Washington DC are a great example of this, particularly the image of the young girl presenting a flower to the line of soldiers with raised guns. I am sure we have all seen this image but what I like is how this one short fleeting moment was captured and became such a powerful representation of the counterculture movement and atmosphere of an era. This photo is also not technically perfect, on close observation it looks like the shutter speed was a bit slow hence a slight shake but it doesn't matter because what he saw and captured was so powerful.
Much of your documentary photography is focused on exploring the ‘human condition’. Can youdescribe what your philosophy of the ‘human condition’?
I think the human condition is the collective result of our actions, policies and behaviors. Using the camera to investigate these results is a good way exploring and highlighting the complexities beneath. The human condition can vary by culture because the factors governing the collective result vary widely. That said, there are always commonalities of the human condition across cultures as in the big picture we are all the same species sharing the same planet so we are bound together by this whether we like it or not. There are other aspects of commonality too like community, spirituality etc. that show many different faces while sharing similar principles.
For those with a passion towards photography, what advice would you impart in relation to the field, their work and photography as a whole?
Photography is certainly a passionate pursuit so first and foremost use it as a way to inspire yourself and then hopefully others. I think digital photography allows many more people to participate now and I personally think this is a good thing although some may disagree. There are many good photographers around so I think it's important to find you own voice or style in our media and image saturated world.
For further exploring and inquiry, visit STUDIOFYNN at www.studiofynn.com.