We had the good fortune of connecting with Ethan Sees and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ethan, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
This is a beautiful life we get to live. I believe there is more good than bad in this world, and that is heavily influenced by the beauty I see around me on a daily basis.

The philosophy behind my photographic work has always been about capturing a feeling or personality rather than a landscape or a face. This means in each photo, I have the unique opportunity to capture beauty, and in turn, help others see the world the way I do.

Money is important. It’s the tool by which we operate our lives. But to me, true success is helping others see optimistic beauty in life, remember the moments where they knew it best, and live more joyfully as a result.
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.
Creating stories photographically doesn’t simply mean a series of events shown visually. It also communicates a feeling. How did it feel to be standing there, cooking breakfast by the tent, overlooking the Grand Canyon? I hope to give viewers of my work a taste of how it felt; just enough to go looking for that feeling for themselves.

In early 2019, I was just sorting out what kinds of photography really spoke to me. A friend and I dragged an old rocking chair into a creekbed, then took photos with fog, flowers, and a flowing dress. When I looked at those photos after that shoot, it was the first time I surprised myself. The first time I realized I could create beauty. That was a turning point for me.

Later that year, I was sitting in a coffee shop when another photographer introduced himself. We met up a couple more times, and he explained that he worked with brands, traveling around the world to take photos of products in action. The idea someone could get paid for that frankly blew my mind. I was in.

After cold-emailing (no joke) a couple hundred brands, I agreed to shoot products for 5 companies in summer 2019, simply in exchange for anything they’d send my way. This built the groundwork for my portfolio, and some of those photos can still be seen there.

Working for free helped develop my portfolio, personal style and understanding of brand deals, but it was a lot of work. I didn’t land my first paid brand deal until nearly a year later, but the experience in that time has proved invaluable.

Since then, I’ve maintained other streams of income, which allows me to only choose the projects that truly speak to me. The ones that really get my excited, because I know that will translate through in the final gallery.

Through it all, one of the leading lessons I learned was that you have to learn to take a “no.” If you can take a no, it’s not scary to make crazy requests. Ask for an internship on the other side of the country. Ask to borrow that Ferrari from a guy you’ve never met. You might be surprised how many times the occasional “Yes” will change everything.
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?
This one is a bit tricky, as I haven’t lived in the Phoenix valley for long. However, I tend to frequent the spots that show my favorite sides of the culture here. When my best friend comes into town, we stop by my favorite little taco place, Tacos Huicho in Phoenix, then hit up my favorite coffee shop down in Gilbert, Mythical Coffee. A night hike up Piestewa is a must to show the city lights, or one of the many live shows at the Pemberton or another outdoor venue in downtown Phoenix always proves to be a great time. I’m one of those people who will find a favorite coffee shop, then get to know all the baristas, and it’s always a blast to introduce friends to my people all around the valley.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout has to be dedicated to my parents. While they have always been sources of deep wisdom and guidance through my life, they’ve also consistently supported my unconventional ideas and life choices. They let me travel widely through high school, and supported uprooting my life to move to Arizona when I was 18. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

Website: ethansees.com

Instagram: ethan_sees

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