By Conor Powers
It is hard to miss him in the dark auditorium: six feet tall, thin and clad in fashionable streetwear. He strolls from the center column, third row, to the front left of stage. The click and flash of his Nikon D3400 does nothing but give him away, though the discussion between the Purchase, Haitian and Beninese film students continues uninterrupted. As each filmmaker answers questions, he respectfully puts his camera down and applauds along with the crowd.
Sebastian Bass, a photography major at Purchase, shoots events on campus. He is the photo intern for the Office of Communications at Purchase College, and this afternoon, he is hard at work.
Bass was on the first floor of Fort Awesome in his Finance of the Arts class, a part of his arts management minor at Purchase. At night, he will shoot the music and dance performance: Haiti Alive in the PAC, again, an assignment from work.
“My man’s don’t go to sleep, he’s always out here,” says Taj Smith, Bass’ friend and housemate. “He is a hard worker, he is driven, he is passionate about his photography, his business moves. He’s tryna get that shmoney.”
All that hard work and drive has paid off for the Brooklyn native.
“In my senior year of high school, I received a scholarship based solely off photography,” Bass says. “Pretty soon, I got a following. People were booking me to photograph their track events, football and lacrosse games. My local news outlet, the Elmont Excelsior, interviewed me for that.”
Besides photographing sport events, Bass has also had his work published in other kinds of media.
“My work is in Mustard Magazine,” Bass says. “I’ve been in two or three art shows. My summer internship helped get me adjusted for music photography and shooting festivals. It was really good to be on a creative team because it’s so much different working with creatives and non-creatives. Shooting for the school is a really big accolade as well.”
Bass’ specialty is concert photography. He can be found at most Stood events up front, camera flashing away.
“I’ve found a way to both enjoy the concert and photograph the artist,” Bass says. “I love music. I listen at the gym, to and from class, in the crib while I’m editing, so why don’t I just photograph the people I love to listen to?”
Beyond photography, another of Bass’ passions is fashion.
He’s decked out in a yellow “You Matter” hoodie, khaki denim pants and brand new Air Jordan Blue the Great collaborations, topped with a yellow beanie. Even when he feels like he looks rough, he gets compliments on his looks. With an eye for fashion, his photos are featured on the Purchase Instagram with the hashtag #FashionFridays.
In his free time, if there is any, he plays NBA 2K19 and Super Smash Bros Ultimate with his friends and roommates.
“When that refund hits, I'm getting the new Pokemon,” Bass says.
He is also an amateur chef, cooking feasts for himself whenever the mealtime opportunity presents itself.
Prepared between playing Smash Bros and editing photos, Bass makes oven-baked chicken, fried potatoes with peppers and onions and angel hair pasta with vodka sauce.
The apartment smells incredible.
The drive that Bass has for not only photography, but also life is credited to his mother.
“I unfortunately lost my mother in the September 11 attacks,” Bass says. “I was only one-and-a-half, so I don't really remember her that well.”
He continues to explain why he is always motivated to succeed in photography, showing how much of an impact his mother has on his future plans.
“I just feel that she was taken away from me so young, and she had so much of her life to live that I need to do what I need to do, whatever I love,” he says. “I don’t wanna get a desk job and settle for anything because that’s not what she’d want me to do. I just love to make beautiful images, and I try to do my best and put my all into my work just, so I would think she’s proud.”
Not only is Bass an excellent photographer, but he is also a good person.
Bass’ housemate last year, Don Austin, says, “Sebastian is a social butterfly, so he has the power to light up any room he enters. When that room was a small apartment in the Olde complex, with all of its problems, he still managed to set a tone of jubilant energy and merriment.”
“He’s cool, he’s chill. He’s easy to talk to. He’s jokes,” Smith says. “I fuck with his vibe. He’s not fake. A lot of the people at this school are fake, hella entitled and shit, but he’s not about that. He’s humble.”
Bass’ dream of being a professional photographer is becoming a reality, as he grinds away, two cameras slung around his neck, backpack full of lenses strapped to his shoulders.
Before he leaves, he answers the final question: Why are you a photographer?
“I like to photograph people in the moment, so you can live the moment later,” he says, with a bearded grin.
Bass’ work can be found on Purchase College’s website, as well as his own website, https://shotbyseb.wixsite.com/shotbyseb