Interview with… Shawn Gust

Photos by Shawn Gust


Shawn Gust was 
born 1976 Spokane, Washington. He is a photographer currently living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Shawn searches his surroundings for feelings that trigger memories or thoughts. His images are the result of his reactions to those discoveries.

With no formal training in the field, he began working in a professional photofinishing lab and retail camera shop in the 1990’s. This experience allowed him to learn at an increased pace. Mostly self-taught on the job, his skills include traditional black and white and color darkroom technique, modern digital retouching, inkjet printing, and studio photography. From there Shawn went to work as a photojournalist for a 25,000 circulation daily newspaper in Coeur d’Alene.

In April 2008, Shawn was named one of fifteen photographers from around the globe to participate in the inaugural year of “Pause, to Begin”. In addition, his photographs have been exhibited in galleries in Tacoma, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Rochester and have been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and online galleries.


How was your life before you started to be a photographer?
I was employed in various kitchens as a cook for nearly a decade before becoming a photographer. Cooking is great creative outlet. I took pictures for many years casually during those years. I enjoy cooking still and prepare virtually all meals in my household.


How did you decide that you wanted to be a photographer? 
In high school, I took photos in a journalism class. I fell in love with the medium then, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that i made it a priority in my life. I began a job in a custom photo lab and retail store where I live in Idaho about that time. I love the darkroom process as an accompaniment to picture taking. That connection is what really made me a photographer.


How can you describe your photos?
I try to share my view on the portion of the world that I have experiences with using photography. If I am able to capture any kind of feeling in a photograph, then that photograph I will share. My intention is to collect images that create a sense of emotion, place and person the way I see and feel these things.


When you do a portrait, what do you use to focus on? Which kind of details?
I make many portraits. I like the interaction with other humans. I don’t think there is more interesting subject on Earth… When I consider a subject for a portrait, I go by first impressions. Much of the time it is a visual impression based on the subject themselves, but other times it may be a person in a particular place or the way the light strikes or a combination of all of these ideas that interests me.


Can you tell us which one is your best photo, that you like since today and why you like it so much? Breakwater
I don’t know if I have made my best photo yet. But there is one photo that I like a lot. It is of my three sons sleeping in the backseat of my car one day after a long, hot day at the local amusement park. The light was really great and they were all passed out so hard. There was an open mouth and their skin had this glow from being a little sweaty after being in the sun for hours. It is a nice picture of the three of them as young brothers.


Do you prefer to shoot inside a studio or outside?
I make work in the world, away from the confinements of a walled-in studio. I find that available light and the backdrop of the world to be a better way to share my feelings about the subjects I happen to find. After all, I found them out there…


What do you think about the street photography?
Street photography. Life happens in, on and via the streets…it is my favorite place to make pictures. I don’t think it means the same thing today that it once did. Having said that, I would consider much of my work to fall under that category, in a contemporary way.


What about your future project?
I am working on the details of a long-term project that is intended to question the dynamic of the family structure and the relationships between the members. I am also working on a sort of visual soundtrack idea that I have had for some time.









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Ji Yeo

Ji Yeo


Salone del Mobile, Milano

Salone del Mobile, Milano


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