Army sniper turned photographer Sean Spivey is the first recipient of the Advertising and Illustrative Photographers Association (AIPA) Assistant Scholarship.
Awarded to a final year Bachelor of Design (Photography) student at Ara, the scholarship recipient is one Ara photography tutors believe most likely to become a professional commercial photographer in the future.
Sean has already ticked that box. He started taking photos during his eight years with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Infantry and, realising that he wanted to take photos full time, he made a case for the army to enroll him at Ara.
“I thought I could do more as a photographer for the army than I could as a grunt,” he said. “When I was crawling around in the dirt, I thought ‘someone should be photographing this’. It is such an important job. We work so hard. It is really important that general public sees the behind-the-scenes hard work that goes into it for New Zealand, otherwise you only see the bad stuff in the media.”
Sean was originally inspired by the great war photographers. “That’s where it all started – seeing those images and knowing I could be that person.”
However, his inside knowledge of NZDF will gave him a distinct advantage. “Because I went through the infantry ranks I can provide a fresh look, and a new point of view, and get right in there amongst it all, without compromising safety.”
The military life made Sean a disciplined student at Ara. Now a graduate of the degree, Sean has no student debt and a bright future ahead.
Based in Rolleston, Sean will transfer to the Air Force next year and continue to travel around the world; “where ever the guys go, a photographer will need to go with them, even to Antarctica, anywhere they are deployed”.
AIPA Executive Director Aaron K awarded the scholarship to Sean this week at Lightworkx Studio. Sean now has three months of mentoring with an AIPA member, camera equipment and access to the AIPA Assistant Training Workshop.
“Provides me an opportunity to further my skills, that’s the way I look at it, and provide more to Defence as a photographer, plus all the valuable stuff you get from being with other photographers.”