FIRE!

Self Portrait
Self Portrait

5:00 AM on a Monday, 2007 (my day off). The phone rings, waking me up.  It's my Photo Editor telling me I need to report to work immediately.  "The winds are getting out of control."  My adrenalin started pumping; I got really excited.  One hour later, I'm suited up in my fire gear covering one of the largest wildfires in San Diego history.

The first place I find myself is a housing track in San Marcos, California.  The sky was orange-red with burnt debris flying everywhere.  The entire housing track was empty except for a few residents scuttling around their homes, checking for last-minute items to stuff into their cars.  It reminded me of a scene out of a George A. Romero zombie movie.  The police kept touring the track announcing that there was a mandatory evacuation, all residents needed to leave their homes.  The reason: a massive wildfire was rapidly approaching.  I pull over near this guy frantically loading his family and anything else he could fit in their car.  He was in complete disbelief of his predicament. He asked me if I thought his house would burn down. I didn't know what to say; however, I felt I should be positive.  I told him not to worry, his house would likely survive.  I never went back to see if my prediction was correct.

Fire

Photojournalism is ripe with opportunities to meet so many people, from different backgrounds, each with their own story to tell.  These experiences paved the way to my current approach to photography.

Since those days back in 2007, my style has changed a bit.  Now my imagery is manipulated with everything deliberately placed in the scene.  However, the photojournalism never really left me.  Having a strong narrative is the foundation to all of my projects.

Me

Me

Hello world!  I figured I'd start my blogging career off with a proper introduction (the expanded version). Some people will describe me as a bit chatty, especially after a fresh cup of coffee.  I just have so much to say.  People probably describe me as many other things as well. Truth is that I’m a man with a vision.

Edison High School offered a photography class.  Going into my senior year, I figured it would be an easy class to pass the time while I marched through to graduation. That class had a profound impact on me.  I took a few photography classes at the local junior college where I was too intimidated to continue.  Thus, my dreams of becoming a jet-setting photographer for National Geographic came to an end.

After ten years in what could be considered my first career, the restaurant industry, I decided to go back to school and get my Bachelor’s degree.  My love of cameras never really left so, I graduated California State University, Fullerton with two degrees.  One in PhotoCommunications and the other in Economics.

Being denied after applying to 50-plus newspapers, after graduation, can seriously make one reconsider their career choice. Then one day I received a press pass with my picture and name emblazoned with the words “Staff Photographer, San Diego Union-Tribune.”  I loved my job.  If the paper asked, I would’ve gone to Iraq to cover the war for free.

While at an assignment in January 2008, I received a phone call from my photo editor.   She instructed me to finish up and then drive over to the executive offices. “It’s not your talent, it’s purely economical,” said the Executive Editor.  I had just been laid off.  Which was funny because I’m pretty sure I was the lowest paid employee on staff.  I found myself prematurely birthed into the freelance world.  Due to my constant flailing, I felt it would be best to jump back into school.

Throughout school, I ate, breathed and slept photography.  I was like Rocky Balboa training for a rematch with Clubber Lang.  I had never immersed myself in anything so intensely in my life.  Along the way I made a lot of mistakes, which yielded an education.  Perseverance gave me the stamina to see my projects through.  Focus taught me to pay attention to the details. Patience helped me stay calm in moments of crisis (and there were plenty).

In May 2011 the Academy of Art University awarded me a Master of Fine Art in Photography, graduating Cum Laude.  

The pictures you see at www.seandufrene.com illustrate my love of story telling.