Over the last few years I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how I got started in this business, what I love about my job, and the advice I would give to people wanting to be full-time creatives. I’ve fine-tuned those answers and anecdotes over time but for the most part they’ve remained the same. It comes down to the philosophy of shooting what you want to get paid for and trying to avoid the slippery slope of taking a job solely for the money. That and you don’t need a degree to be a photographer. Pretty straight forward.

During a recent interview, after the questions I had anticipated, I was asked, “What’s your end goal?“. I was a bit caught off guard. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an answer but that I had never been asked and truth be told I had never heard anyone else talk about it either. Me? I’ve had an end goal in mind since day one so I thought I’d share it here.

It all boils down to one word: access.

Forget the money, exotic shoot locations, and likes on Instagram. Not that those aren’t enjoyable but they aren’t what I’m truly chasing. In my mind the dream is to create such a respectable body of work that it gets me an immediate “yes, where do you need me?” when I have an idea for someone. Whether that’s a friend, political figure, or the best-selling musician on the planet, all I want is for my name to get me in the room. For example, right now I would love to fly to New York and sit down in a room with James Spader. Five minutes and we’re done. I have such a massive amount of appreciation and respect for his talent yet I know full well that my name holds no recognizable weight to him or his people. That’s what I mean by access.

The real problem is that there is no magical formula or shoot that will get me there. I could photograph President Obama hanging with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the Oval Office yet would still have trouble getting two minutes in a room with Harry Styles. Strange but true, trust me. Knowing that this is the world we live in, the only path I see is the one I’m already on. To keep shooting what I love, shooting often, and sharing it with anyone willing to look.

So there it is. When I started writing this I didn’t set out to preach or show you how to do this or that as a photographer, just to share what drives me personally.

Oh and about James Spader and his people, simply because they don’t know who I am today doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow. I have a phone call to make.

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Sean Hagwell