Q&A: Sean Sirota


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? When my Grandpa meets someone new he sometimes asks them who the most important person in their life is. Before they can answer, he takes their hand in his, kisses his own, and asks “who did I just kiss ?” What is it that interests you about photography? The camera can really be a tool for connection. It gives you a reason to be out in the world and it gives you a reason to talk to people. When you ask a stranger their permission for a photograph, they have to trust your intentions are sincere, and if a mutual trust is built it can lead to a relationship that may not have existed otherwise, even if it is only for that brief time spent together. I think my interest in photography comes from a longing to connect but, as a fairly shy person, a fear of it as well. Photography is therapeutic and helps you channel all those intangible thoughts and emotions that well up inside you, feelings you may not have found another language for yet. What is the worst thing about city life? Gentrification. What part of the planet would you like to explore? I’d like to visit my family in Italy, I haven’t been since I was very young.

What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Demons! If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Linda Sarsour. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Psychology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I wish I photographed the people I spent time with in middle school. I feel like half the things I’m interested in photographing now stem back to some people I knew then. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Ice cream taster. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. I don’t know if its the most important picture but its one of my favorites- Roy Decarava’s photograph Shirley Looking Down a Stairwell.  It’s what you strive to achieve with a portrait- there is no one way to place the feeling the photograph gives. How often do you take other people’s advice? I’m trying to be less stubborn. Describe a personal hell. Having to take the L train to get somewhere.

Which living person do you most admire? My girlfriend Henrietta. On what occasion do you lie? I try to be honest most of the time. What was the last crime you witnessed? Probably someone hopping a turnstile, if you consider that an actual crime. What is the best way to educate yourself? Asking a lot of questions. What is the next book you want to read? I’m currently reading Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole. Most used camera? Probably my 35mm Minolta Cl , but lately I’ve been shooting with a camera my friend gave me which is a 120 TLR. I think it’s a Minolta as well actually. What object do you need? Coffee. Describe a cheap thrill. Biking with my friends to Roll n Roaster. Are impulses more important than consequences? In photography I would say go with your impulse because often it comes from a place that you can’t rationalize. Which talent would you most like to have? To play piano like Nina Simone. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Make breakfast, apply to jobs…etc.

From the series — We Are Our Own Shadow. To see more of Sean Sirota’s work visit – seansirota.com