I first connected with Sean Maung in 2014. We were both making zines and taking photos. He was living in New York at the time and I was here in Los Angeles. I forget how exactly, but I stumbled upon his Instagram when I was trying to find other photographers to follow. I eventually found his Tumblr and was immediately drawn into his images of botanicas, peep shows, and the raw street scenes in New York that I had no idea about. Since then, we’ve become good friends and we sometimes go out and shoot together in LA, but that usually ends with very little photo-taking and more deep conversations over good food or a drink while exploring the city.
When I go out to shoot I feel like I’m drawn to a certain person or quality in someone that draws me to them. Do you feel the same way with the people you are drawn to photograph? What type of qualities do you look for when shooting people?
It’s deep, it’s mental, it’s from the heart, it’s from the soul. It’s from our memories and experiences from the past. When I’m out shooting, I try not to think and then you see someone. And it could be anything. Their eyes, style, spirit. It’s almost something that is in the moment with no thought, just a connection.
We’ve talked a little before about using photography to push personal limits and boundaries. Looking through your photos you definitely have been in some crazy places and positions many people might not feel comfortable in. Do you use photography to push your own limits?
I always grow and learn when I step out to take photos. I think even the process of shooting, whether or not you get a photo you like; there is still personal and artistic growth.
I feel like the world is looking to LA culture for inspiration, especially in recent years. Now that you’re back living and working in LA, what LA do you want to show them and represent?
I think the beautiful thing about LA is there is not an exact definition to this city. I can’t give you an exact answer. There are so many different worlds out here surrounded by the sun, the mountains, and the ocean. All the layers inspire me. Every day, week, and month I come across something that catches my eye and inspires me.
Read our full interview with Sean Maung in issue 11 out June 24th. For more from Sean follow him on Instagram.