A Day in the Life of a Photographer

Meet Seanen Middleton, an incredible photographer and videographer who’s work you’ll have definitely seen, as he’s also ACC’s in-house Digital Content Creator! We sat down with him to find out more about how he got into the industry, how he approaches his projects, and to get some words of advice for young people who want to follow in his footsteps.


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Hi Seanen, introduce yourself!

Hi I am Seanen! I am a fine art and music photographer, living and working in Manchester City Centre. I mainly work in the music industry creating album covers and promo shoots for bands and artists but also shoot gigs, sell prints and you may have seen me out and about shooting for Access as their in-house photographer and videographer!


Art photography from Seanen Middleton, hand grabbing a grey circle in wallA white line break


How did you get into photography?

I first started photography when I was about 15. I was always very creative and loved drawing, painting and writing, but struggled to find a medium that I was actually any good at. I think it was when I started on my art GCSE that I first picked up a camera and started shooting in a creative way. I quickly found a deep love for photography – the realism and the physical aspect of getting out there in the world and finding cool things to photograph. 

At the time I was struggling with a lot of personal issues at home and I had a lot of angst that I needed to express in a much less destructive way than I currently was. I started to realise I could show my feelings through my work, often shooting really dark subjects which felt very therapeutic to me. 

At the time there was a growing community of photographers in spaces online who were shooting these really creative and expressive images, and as soon as I started getting involved with that my obsession with taking photos grew exponentially. I started getting a little attention for my work online which encouraged me even further as I started to see this as a career path for myself to follow into adulthood. Fast forward 16 years and I am still here, my love for photography stronger than ever and lucky enough to be doing it full-time! 


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What kind of photography do you shoot?

So first and foremost I am a fine art photographer. That means I create artistic pieces as a way to express myself, who I am and what I feel. The vast majority of photography in my portfolio is work I have made by myself for creative reasons and this is how I developed my own sense of personal style. I was very fortunate that these images resonated with people who wanted to buy prints of my work, licence images from my portfolio or commission me to create images for them – so this could be album or single covers for music projects, book covers, portrait or band shoots and most recently live music photos. I also continue to shoot my personal work to keep myself creatively active and to keep pushing my personal style into new territories. 


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How would you describe your work?

Most of my fine artwork can be described as “Dark”. I’ve always been a lover of dark art, music and fashion and found a belonging in the goth and emo scenes of the mid-2000s. This has had a huge influence on the aesthetics of my art and thematically I find myself most inspired when expressing the darker parts of myself too – the things that are hard to talk about or express in day-to-day life. However, I don’t want people to look at my images and feel depressed. There is always a sense of hope and beauty that I try to translate too. I would also describe my work as bold, vibrant, experimental and emotive. It’s quite a brave statement but I want every image I create to look like it could be an album cover. 


Art photography from Seanen Middleton, light in a dark roomA white line break


What inspires you creatively?

My biggest love outside visual art is music which I guess triggers my emotions and gets me into a state where I feel inspired to create. My favourite kind of music is often heavy or experimental – bands and artists like Evanescence, Sleep Token, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, FKA Twigs and Ethel Cain. I’m inspired by all kinds of visual art too but find I am most drawn to paintings. I love artists such as Francisco Goya, Zdislaw Beksinski and Mariusz Lewandowski, who have all had a huge impact on my visual style.


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How do you approach a project, what are your considerations and how do you prepare?

My approach is different for each area I work in. For example, my fine artwork tends to be quite unplanned. I get inspired and I just try and make whatever comes to mind. There isn’t a lot of pre-planning and I like it that way. However, when it comes to client work such as album covers or promotional photoshoots it takes a lot of back and forth discussions with me and my client. We put together reference boards on Pinterest so we both know what the exact vibe of the shoot is going to be – If they are a musician I always ask them to send the music that is going to be released with the visuals. That way I can make sure there is a nice synergy and it all feels like it belongs in the same world.  


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What are some of your career achievements?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some huge musicians. I have made album covers for Odesza, Machine Head, Profjam and Hot Milk, as well as countless other wonderful musicians. Even though working with the bigger names always feels great, I get such a sense of fulfilment working with even small local bands on creating visuals for their projects. This was always a dream of mine when I was younger and I often have to pinch myself that I get to do it now as my job. Other achievements include having my images on international book covers, tour posters and shooting some insane gigs of my favourite artists. 


Art photography from Seanen Middleton, man looking through a tree with blue eyesA white line break


What advice do you have for young photographers?

I am going to share my favourite quote from Andy Warhol – “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”.

I believe that through this ^^ You stand a great chance of developing a strong personal style that could lead to lots of success as a photographer or any other kind of art. Just get it done. Think of an idea and do it. Don’t overcomplicate the process. Also be patient. It’s taken me nearly 16 years to get to where I am and I still feel like I am just at the start of my journey. I didn’t start getting any decent paid projects until I was 24. You have to just be persistent if you are starting out but enjoy that process of discovering what kind of artist you are. Do everything until you discover what ignites the inner fire in you. 

If reading about Seanen’s experience in industry has got you feeling inspired, why not check out our Level 2 Videography, Photography and Design or our Level 3 Film, Videography and Photography, and turn your passion into a career! 

For more of Seanen’s amazing work, follow him on Instagram – @seanenmiddleton.

Last updated on: 19th April 2024