“There’s So Much Amazing Out There” – Sean Hoyt, Photographer
A Sean Hoyt masterpiece is an invitation to step into panoramic scenes of remote beauty. The mathematician turned nature photographer was born in the Pacific Northwest, but an early case of wanderlust had Sean living in dozens of small towns up and down the west coast before settling permanently in Seattle. It’s the perfect place to start a trek into the “Amazing”.
Sean Hoyt: Early Inspiration
Always a builder and creator, Sean Hoyt discovered an early attachment to Legos, which led him into studying math, physics, and earning several engineering degrees. When he tried to unravel the complex parameters of a camera and eventually utilized it to explore the vastness of the outdoors, Sean said the combination of photography and nature felt like he was being presented with “unlimited possibilities”.
When asked about how he arrived at his photography profession, Sean Hoyt said, “You can plan all you want, but in the end, it’s always a bit of a surprise what you walk away with.”
Before creating art from nature, Sean had covered more than 400 weddings as a wedding photographer.
Photography and Connection
In addition to being a form of expression, photography is a way for the artist to connect with his subjects. “I feel what I do with photography is more like a conduit. As a wedding photographer, I learned about what made my clients tick. I then used my skills to collect and package the moments of importance to give my clients a way to reconnect back to that time in their lives.
With landscapes, I want my images of beautiful, colorful, and interesting scenes to inspire people into an adventure. I also find that people purchase my works to hang in their home as a visual reminder of adventures had.”
Transitioning into More Amazing
After 15 years as a wedding photographer, Sean moved on to photographing places and landmarks. He uses his techniques as the means to “… traverse around a single photograph.”
By adding gigapixel-level information within many of his panoramic photographs, he layers details upon details to offer viewers an interesting focal point, “With each viewing, new details are discovered. As you step back, your eyes shift from looking inward at details to looking forward at the full, expansive scene.”
Ensuring Quality Prints
To preserve the quality of his masterpieces, Sean Hoyt is choosey about the commercial printer that creates his prints and the mediums that are used to display his work.
“Artisan HD won me over with customer service and quality of the finished product,” Sean Hoyt said. “Right off the bat, I was impressed with the customer service before and with also every order since becoming a customer. They are very responsive to my questions and help make ordering quite easy.”
And, he’s confident that the art will arrive in perfect condition, “When it comes to shipping, ArtisanHD builds a rock-solid package. Combining this with perfect prints means I don’t have to intercept prints for quality/error inspection before the client receives them. This leads to massive time and cost savings.”
The Next Amazing for Sean Hoyt
Many of Sean’s gallery photographs depict the lush Pacific Northwest landscapes and dynamic cityscapes, but his plans include photographing other terrain and develop two other interests.
”I’d love to visit friends in New Zealand and Iceland. I also have two side businesses: one involves building innovative orchid products and the other is illustrations of local neighborhoods and hikes sold on merchandise like shirts, mugs, cards, and bags.”
To learn more about ArtisanHD’s latest Brand Ambassador, read his full interview below.
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FULL INTERVIEW OF SEAN HOYT
What inspired you to become an artist?
I’m pretty sure I became an artist the moment I discovered tools. It became my passion to master tools so I could build. Early on it was enamored with Legos which progressed into mathematics and physics which led to several engineering degrees and ultimately guided me into a professional photographer career. To some, that last part might feel like an abrupt right turn, but to me it was natural. The challenge of mastering the camera’s parameters mixed in with somewhat uncontrollable external variables such as weather gives me the feeling of almost unlimited possibilities. You can plan all you want, but in the end, it’s always a bit of a surprise what you walk away with.
Did you choose photography as the way to express yourself, or did they choose you? Why?
I feel what I do with photography is more like a conduit. As a wedding photographer, I learned about what made my clients tick. I then used my skills to collect and package the moments of importance to give my clients a way to reconnect back to that time in their lives. With landscapes, I want my images of beautiful, colorful, and interesting scenes to inspire people into adventure. I also find that people purchase my works to hang in their home as a visual reminder of adventures had.
Is it important for you to take people on a journey through your photography?
I don’t see my body of work as a journey, but I do use photographic techniques specifically to give the viewer a way to traverse around a single photograph. Many of my large panoramic photographs contain gigapixel-level information ready to reveal details within details, compelling the viewer to spend time wandering around. With each viewing, new details are discovered. As you step back, your eyes shift from looking inward at details to looking forward at it the full, expansive scene. From my own experience, this makes me feel like I’m right back at the spot seeing the scene as I witnessed it live.
When is your favorite time to shoot?
I’d have to say ’sunset’ is my favorite time to shoot. The lighting is more dramatic and colorful, fades away into a star-filled night of opportunities. When backpacking, I sleep and hike during the day and photograph from sunset to sunrise.
Do you have a favorite subject? Landscapes? Wildlife? People? Landmarks?
I photographed people for 15 years and am now moving on to places and things. My online print gallery is full of cityscapes and landscapes.
Was there ever a time when you were surprised & excited by how a photo or project turned out? Describe it.
The surprises I experience usually come in the form of weather. One great example was a 2018 trip to the Enchantments in Washington State, a 24-mile point-to-point backpacking trip with about 5,000 feet of vertical gain. This area requires a permit to camp, which I won in their lottery early in the year. I then invested many hours of research – reading blogs, watching videos, making a preliminary shot list map, and boosting my backpacking gear to survive subzero weather come mid-October when the alpine larch trees turn golden before dropping their needles.
It was cold and gray with bouts of rain as we started the hike towards a large lake sitting about 5 miles in and 2,200 feet up. As we arrived, we found the towering peaks covered obscured by clouds and fog. Every few minutes, a ridge or two popped out, then went back into hiding. This isn’t encouraging for photographers, but we were committed to continuing the hike, so we set up camp at the lake and had a good sleep as the rain continued.
We climbed out of our tents the next morning to better weather, but the sky was still gray, and fog crept around the area throughout the day. Since we wouldn’t be able to return to the area later, we decided to give the area a bit more time to see if conditions would improve, before packing up and moving inward along the trail. We found a great viewpoint overlooking the lake with the surrounding mountains and waited.
The peaks remained obscured right up until around sunset when, surprisingly, the clouds lifted and took on color. The lower fog had cleared out earlier, but new fog from the core area much higher up was now pouring down over the peaks on the left. Dragontail, the main peak, towering in front of us, half a mile into the sky, was revealed to be detailed with fresh snow in its crevices across the face. I set my “pano-robot” piXplorer into motion, spanning a 180-degree view with 36 photos from a 46-megapixel Nikon D850, finishing just as the colors and light faded.
Back home after the hike, I combined the photos into one massive panoramic file and have since printed many copies including a 72×35” version at home I frequently stop to stare at to find new details.
Do you think about what you want people to feel when they experience your work?
I love feedback from viewers that say things like “I need to go here” or “I’ve been here and have photos, but this makes me feel like I’m right back there.” When I was showing a panoramic taken of the Milky Way arching over the Tetons, I overheard a person say “Is this real? There are that many stars in the sky?” If people see my work and experience any fraction of what I felt while taking it, I consider that a success.
What’s next for you?
I have plans to expand my landscape photography beyond the Pacific Northwest. I’d love to visit friends in New Zealand and Iceland. I also have two side businesses: one involves building innovative orchid products and the other is illustrations of local neighborhoods and hikes sold on merchandise like shirts, mugs, cards, and bags.
What advice would you give a photographer who is just starting out?
Like most endeavors in life, it’s all about investment in a combination of time and money. On the time front, I advise new shooters to identify how they learn best. Some can sit down and watch YouTube or paid courses to walk through the theory and practice. Others are trial-and-error learners who poke and prod and experiment to learn how each dial affects the output. I’m a mix of both.
New photographers can very well begin with consumer/prosumer gear and graduate upwards to professional level as their skills and shot difficulties exceed the current system. However, I recommend people invest in professional gear early on. Typically, there’s less hand-holding (abstraction modes like “flowers”) and easier access to the main parameters. The cameras and lenses are usually weather-sealed, lenses are sharper corner-to-corner, and tripods are MUCH lighter when you go carbon fiber. It will be quicker to learn the fundamentals, move beyond any technical limitations found on cheaper gear, and build a high-quality body of work that better differentiates the photographer from the others in the market.
Finally, I tell all new shooters to get insurance to cover your gear and invest in a robust data management system. I use a main 12TB storage disk along with a second 12TB drive as a backup but also back the data up to online servers.
What are the characteristics of a quality photographic print?
The best printers match my calibrated workstation output and have low or no variation between print orders. In other words, I want the color, exposure, etc., to be perfect every time I order the same print. I only offer my landscape photography behind acrylic or on ChromaLuxe metal, and I look for printers that can build these prints perfectly: no debris between the print and acrylic, mounts are strong and straight, no bent or dented metal surface, and no chipping at the edges.
What led you to ArtisanHD?
I began selling landscape prints encapsulated in traditional mat, frame, and glass but soon thereafter found acrylic and loved how simple the presentation looked. I sold quite a bit of traditional acrylic prints but was never totally satisfied with the product. It scratches easily, is statically charged attracting dust and dirt and is very reflective. I then found TruLife acrylic which solves all three of those issues. This acrylic facing just gets out of the way to reveal all of the color and detail in the photograph behind. Only a few printers offer this premium product and ArtisanHD won me over with customer service and quality of the finished product.
Why do you continue to work with Artisan HD?
Right off the bat, I was impressed with the customer service before and with also every order since becoming a customer. They are very responsive to my questions and help make ordering quite easy. When it comes to shipping, Artisan HD builds a rock-solid package. Combining this with perfect prints means I don’t have to intercept prints for quality/error inspection before the client receives them. This leads to massive time and cost savings.
What advice would you give to other artists who want to create and sell quality prints?
I’ve only been in landscape fine art sales for a few years, but I have gathered that there are two main approaches to print sales. One photographer may opt to sell high volume with low margins, while another prefers selling lower volume with much higher margins. I fall into the latter camp, because I find it has less overhead, and I enjoy interacting with my customers.
I’d also advise against offering photography on every medium available. What this does is overwhelm the potential customer with too many options. As a wedding photographer, I offered one single package that contained everything needed – no bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. People planning their wedding appreciated the time I spent simplifying my offering, and they felt confident they were getting the most complete and highest quality service and product.
For my landscapes, I only offer large to extra-large prints in premium TruLife acrylic or ChromaLux metal. I don’t sell digital files, loose prints, or canvas. I don’t sell small because I want my customers to experience the full effect of the large print. My customers purchase these prints because they want to feel immersed in the printed landscape, so large, premium quality prints are the only option.
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