Meet Robert McCann, our third Pro Shop resident artist

After a rather off-the-track first year, the 2020 Pro Shop emerging artist program is coming to an end with Robert McCann. His collection, Road Trippin’, will be on show at our St Peters cafe until January 2021.

Rob McCann posing with a nice vintage car and a surfboard

Rob McCann, our Pro Shop’s third resident artist

Rob (on Instagram as @kookedout) is a Sydney-based photographer who shots only in film. From local adventures to every day unnotticeable moments, his shots capture the beauty of the little things, something we quite believe in here at Sample.

Humble and shy, Rob accepted our challenge to answer a few questions about himself and his approach to this craft. So glad he did, because as always, it makes us appreciate and understand the images a step further. We hope you too enjoy learning about his story and what got him here.

Q&A with Robert McCann

SAMPLE COFFEE: Rob, thanks a lot for being with us in as the third Pro Shop resident artist. Can you please tell us a bit about you?

ROBERT MCCANN: Firstly, thank you for having me! At spot number three, I sure have some big shoes to fill. I grew up in Lilyfield and have basically swanned about the Inner West ever since. Work/career-wise I’ve really done a lot of different stuff over the years but am currently doing photographic freelancing and assisting.

SC: When did your interest in photography start?

RM: I’ve always been quite interested in photography but also always surrounded by amazing photographers. Stupidly, I found this super intimidating and never properly picked up a camera. It wasn’t until I’d sidelined myself via a motorcycle accident that I went rummaging through my grandfathers’ old film camera stash to try keeping myself sane. I started taking photos as a way to stay connected to the things I couldn’t do and pass the time while I recovered, but was almost immediately hooked.

SC: What type of photography do you prefer/practice?

RM: What kind of scenes do you tend to capture? That’s a tough one. What I like and what I do are usually different, and I mean that in a sense that I think you have to be really careful about influences. You don’t want to get caught up in forcing a style, look or feel because you’re stoked on other peoples work. It’s overwhelming how many talented people are out there killing it every day but the minute you try to do something like someone else’s work it’ll always show through and look forced to those who know.

Basically, that was a really elaborate way of saying I don’t know for sure. I’m still pretty fresh and just trying a bit of everything to see where it takes me. The one thing I do really love though is moments, if I see or take a photo that really captures a split second in time that can’t be replicated, that’s what gets me. It’s also what keeps me hooked on film photography because you have that one chance to get it right and then who knows how you did until you get the scans back. Even then the camera or film could wig out.

I guess like with basically anything I enjoy there needs to be an element of risk; otherwise, it’s no fun.

SC: What does this art mean to you? How does it make you feel?

RM: Wow, another tough one. I don’t think I’m deep enough for this question haha. For me, it’s a way to get out some creative energy and momentarily shut off a brain that goes a mile a minute. Photography is the only thing I’ve found that gives me the same buzz and satisfaction as surfing, snowboarding or riding motocross, etc. It’s quite calming for some reason. I’d love to draw and paint, but I just can’t focus for that long. Even to type this up I had to draw all the blinds so I couldn’t see out of my windows - oh look, that dog has a puffy tail!…

SC: This collection you are showing us is called Road trippin’. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What emotions do you want to transmit with these pics? Or what feelings/ideas do you want to inspire?

RM: This collection of shots are from a bunch of short trips. Some were just day trips down the coast for a surf while others were from some epic motorcycle adventures. One was even from a work road trip.

What I’m hoping they convey is that feeling of new sights and people. Then, at times, strange little memories you get from a time and place that stick with you when you step away from your daily routine. These are the kind experiences we will be having now more and more post-Covid. Shorter localised trips are currently taking the place of exotic holidays for a myriad of reasons, and I hope that pics I’ve chosen can get you all excited to plan a little getaway and hit the road if even for a day.

SC: Before we finish, how are you doing? Has 2020 changed you and your surroundings much?

RM: Let’s just say my 2020 has definitely lived up to the hype. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learnt a lot and discovered what’s really important, so it’s now time to move forward for the better.

SC: Has your vision or execution of photography shifted at all? If so, how?

RM: I hope that it has and always will. If you’re not continually evolving, not only as an artist but as a person then what’s the point to anything really? Stagnancy and satisfaction hinder growth, and I don’t particularly want to be the exact same person doing the exact same thing for the rest of my life.

SC: We’re curious to hear how did you get to know Sample…

RM: I was living in Summer Hill and John, who owned Drugstore at the time (a local cafe) used to give me all kinds of different beans to try. He gave me some from you guys one morning and told me how you were his favourite roasters in Sydney. He’d never led me astray before, so I went and got some more from St Peters and pretty much have ever since.

SC: And what’s your favourite way to drink coffee?

RM: I really do enjoy all types and methods. At home, I usually start the day with an Aeropress. Occasionally I’ll do V60 - I’d like to give a shoutout to the three Chemex’s I managed to break that came before it - RIP. If I go to a cafe, I’m partial to things I can’t be bothered or simply can’t make at home, like a syrupy espresso or basic-ass soy flat white. If it’s a summer arvo, then, of course, hit me with a frosty cold drip. So yeah, with good coffee there’s a time and place for everything.

Thanks heaps for being with us Rob. Truly appreciate your work.

If you enjoyed this, head to Rob’s Instagram profile at @kookedout and give him a follow. Also, don’t forget to come to our Pro Shop to see his IRL photography on live.

Never stop road trippin’.

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