We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Blocklin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sean, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
For better or worse, I don’t think I know the perfect time to give up yet. And I don’t mean that in a work-warrior way, but in a stick-around-too-long way. I can see my career in photography has been a series of “giving ups,” but it’s always been in the pursuit of something new. So, I’m not SCARED to give up, since I feel it is a continuation and extension rather than a hard stop. Switching from video to photographic work, moving from the east to west coast, moving into education from the photo service industry – it’s always been a sacrifice in pursuing new goals. Even now, in opening my own photo lab, I am keeping going and following my passion in photography. If I never had the courage to give up along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, whether to keep going or give up – I would say keep going in the direction of your passion even if it’s leaving something else behind.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What gets me excited, and what I’m making my career about, is sharing my knowledge, experience and history in photography with others. Early on, I realized the work I had been doing in traditional photography was a real joy to me and something I wanted to make accessible to everyone. In both New York and Los Angeles I met many inspiring artists who were generous with their time and knowledge and this really motivated me to move in a new direction. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to connect with the photographic community and continue learning. At Santa Monica College, it is my privilege to help students just as passionate as I am each day. And, since Covid-19 hit, I have found new ways to bring traditional processes to others with the help of the LACP by teaching cyanotype and anthotype workshops through Zoom. Opening my lab has also allowed me to keep connecting and collaborating with artists while spending whole days in the darkroom.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m picking my friend up at the airport and first thing we do is get In-N-Out and eat on any beach nearby. Then pick up some beers and Thai food from my favorite – Pailin – and catch up. After taking the trip out here we would have to unwind with a beach day, probably one of many. The first beach I bring anybody to is El Matador because it’s a fun drive up the coast and a different experience from the norm. This day would probably end in beers and Thai food again (Rodded this time, right next to Pailin). For a day Downtown, Grand Central and Little Tokyo would be traversed before heading to an all-ages show at the Smell. If we’re feeling fancy, Pacific Seas has good Tiki drinks and is just a walk away. Speaking of Tiki drinks, Tiki-Ti is a wonder and would probably be a day in itself. After a few drinks there is when you lure your friend to Jitlada – a Thai restaurant nearby that doesn’t hold back on the heat!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would first like to shoutout to Chuck Kelton, master printer and mentor. Chuck took me under his wing and for many years taught me the secrets of black and white printing, all while discussing art and talking Yankees. Second, a big shoutout to the Los Angeles photographic community, who have embraced and supported my every move. Through the Los Angeles Center of Photography, Santa Monica College and the APA I have met so many fun and generous people. They truly helped me gain a footing and find my place out here.