Sean Scott is an ocean and landscape photographer from Burleigh Heads, Queensland. He has lived on the Gold Coast for the majority of his life, spending much of his time in and around the ocean. Scott is best-known for his water photography, having shot oceanscapes for the last two decades. Initially shooting coastal landscapes, it was Scott’s desire to share his love of the ocean that inspired him to invest in a waterproof housing for his camera and take his photography in a different direction. He also has an extensive and impressive portfolio of outback imagery and astrophotography. In 2005, he opened his flagship gallery in Burleigh Heads.
Scott travels extensively, working for a number of commercial and government clients, including Tourism Queensland and Tourism Australia. Photography road trips consume much of his schedule, and he recently returned from eight weeks on the road, shooting multiple commissioned assignments. In the last few years, he has travelled around Australia four times – all made possible with his fully customised “photography truck” which allows him to work and live off-grid for as long as is required to get a job done.
What’s currently in your kit?
Sean Scott: In terms of cameras, I’ve been a Canon shooter from the outset. Currently, my kit contains two EOS 1DX Mark II bodies, an EOS 5D Mark IV, EOS 5Ds, EOS 5DsR, and the mirrorless EOS R.
When it comes to lenses, I’ve got almost every L-series lens including: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM, and EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM for landscapes, portraits, and general travel photography, along with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. For wildlife and surf photography, I rely on the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM, and 1.4x Extender.
For portraits, I use the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, and the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM when shooting from helicopters and planes. When I’m in the water shooting surfers, waves, or underwater wildlife, I depend on the EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, as well as the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM and EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM. For astrophotography, I use the ultra-wide EF 11-24mm f/4L USM.
I have also started to transition to the new lenses designed specifically for mirrorless in anticipation of the new Canon EOS R5. When my entire kit is mirrorless, my sons and daughter will be the extremely lucky recipients of my entire DSLR kit.
My tripod brand of choice is Gitzo, and I love my Traveler (Series 3), Mountaineer (Series 4), and my Systematic (Series 5) with Fluid Gimbal Head, which I use when capturing motion.
For aerial work, I rely on a DJI Mavic 2 and a Phantom 4 Pro. And when I need to get wet, my cameras go in Aquatech housings, which I’ve always used. I’ve got kits for the EOS 5D Mark IV and the EOS R.
Lowepro bags are my go-to, and I’m currently using the Pro Trekker BP 550 AW 2 and Pro Trekker BP 350 AW 2.
Why did you settle on Canon for your kit?
Sean Scott: WhenI started my career 20 years ago, I chose Canon. It’s always done what I needed and it’s served me well, so I’ve stuck with it. I have experimented with Sony and Nikon, but just always felt more comfortable with Canon.
What are your top three personal travelling essentials?
Sean Scott: When I’m on the road I can live without my Bose noise cancelling headphones, my iPhone, and sunglasses.
What’s your favourite location to shoot, and why?
Sean Scott: Burleigh Cove, because nothing beats shooting sunrise at home in the national park.
What gear would you recommend to other photographers who want to shoot similar work to you?
Sean Scott: To be honest, it's not really about the gear; it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Obviously, I’ve amassed a great deal of gear over the years – par for the course for professionals – but my highest-selling image was taken on a camera worth about $50 today. Shot years ago, the image still sells really well, so I don’t think getting too caught up on gear is overly helpful.
What’s the next piece of gear that you would like to add to your kit?
Sean Scott: I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Canon EOS R5, and the new mirrorless system. I reckon it will be a game-changer!
What is more important, the gear or the photographer?
Sean Scott: No question – the photographer! But you have to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. If you haven’t got that sorted, even the best gear in the world won’t make a shred of difference.
What did your kit include in the first year of your career?
Sean Scott: My very first setup included a Canon 35mm SLR, 24-70mm lens, and a 100-300mm telephoto.
If you could choose only one setup for your kit to shoot on for the rest of the year, what would it be?
Sean Scott: The Canon EOS R5 with a 24-70mm lens.
What are the most crucial non-photographic items in your kit, and why can’t you live without them?
Sean Scott: When I’m on the road, my iPhone is entirely invaluable. I use it to find locations with GPS, rely on Google Earth to help identify specific locations to shoot, and check sunrise and moonrise times and angles, along with the tides.
I also love my Helinox chairs because they are so small, versatile, and light which is ideal when travelling with an impressive amount of gear and equipment. They make setting up a makeshift editing suite at the back of my truck a breeze.
And last, but certainly not least, is my outback photography truck. My Toyota 79 Series LandCruiser is fully customised and purpose-built to allow me to live and work in the Outback for months on end. It’s very comfortable, and makes post production on the road a far less arduous task than one might expect.
What would your dream kit include?
Sean Scott: I’m tremendously fortunate in that I’m basically working with my dream kit. As mentioned, I’m planning to add the new Canon mirrorless system once it’s released. One lens I would to one day add to my kit is the Canon 400mm f/2.8.
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