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A conversation with Sean Arbaut

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Photographer Sean Arbaut (right) taking photos of the Minot State softball team earlier this year inside the bubble at Herb Parker Stadium in Minot.

Sean Arbaut is a photographer for Minot State, a performance coach for Heilman’s Performance and a former MSU baseball player. Arbaut spoke about his two current jobs on Monday with the Minot Daily News, and how he has had to adapt because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Some responses are edited for brevity and clarity.

MDN: With the current situation, it’s a tough time for a lot of people right now. How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your livelihood?

SA: Well, I work for Heilman’s Performance in the fitness industry, and that’s shutdown. So, we can’t go in and work. But we have been working on building an online library and trying to pump out as much stuff as we can online. It keeps me sort of busy with video work and online work.

My other job as a photographer for the university is basically done. Although, today, I got to go out and take pictures of people handing out groceries. But, no more sports, which sucks.

So, it has kind of been just finding things to take pictures of. I’m trying to stay busy with creative stuff. That’s kind of where I am at right now.

MDN: In particular, how have you been spending your time?

SA: As I said, the online exercise library for Heilman’s. For photography, I did a friendly challenge with photographer and student Joshua Strong. We had a competition last week by taking photos of household items.

We did one item a week. It was cool. We kept the creative juices flowing. It was nice to take pictures and stay busy.

MDN: How did you get into photography and performance training?

SA: I went to school for performance training, and while I was at Minot State, I needed a job. So, I got a student worker job with Michael Linnell, who was the SID (sports information director) at the time.

He had me doing random stuff, and one day he said, “I need someone to take pictures at soccer.”

I was like, “Yep. I’ll do it. I’m not doing anything today.”

Ever since then, I have had a camera in my hand at every game. It went from there and turned into a passion.

MDN: Moving back to fitness, best exercises somebody could do in their living room?

SA: Honestly, body squats or any type of push-up or planks. If you are looking for something, Caleb (Heilman) just released a body weight workout program for free through Heilman’s Performance.

I would refer to that. (Multiple videos can be found on the Facebook page for Heilman’s Performance LLC).

MDN: What are some of your favorite photos that you have taken?

SA: The northern lights. That was probably one of the coolest experiences. I didn’t know what to expect and just went with it. I remember looking at it and being like, “Oh my God, I have to take a picture.”

I like freaked out and tried to get my settings right. The pictures turned out alright. I think that was the coolest experience, but maybe not the greatest of photos.

Sports wise, probably baseball winning the NSIC championship against U-Mary. That weekend was fun to experience the winning culture and take pictures of them celebrating.

MDN: If you could go back in time to take photos at any event in history, what would it be?

SA: This may sound weird because I’m a Texas Rangers fan, but I would have loved to be at that (2011) World Series against the Cardinals. I think taking pictures of that World Series would have been amazing, even though the Rangers lost in heartbreaking fashion.

MDN: What type of camera and other types of equipment are you using these days?

SA: A Canon 1-DX Mark II. I got a few lenses. My 70-200mm and I really like my 50mm Sigma. That one is an awesome lens for anyone that wants to get a lens for their camera. I would recommend that.

I also have another body, a (Canon) 7D Mark II.

I just invested in some lights not long ago, but haven’t been able to use them much. Well, except for the indoor challenge we did last week.

MDN: If somebody wanted to get into photography, what camera would you recommend they use?

SA: I’m a Canon guy, so I would say a Rebel. That’s a good starting camera from Canon. That’s what I started with, and it has all the settings you need to learn all the different photography skills.

MDN: How about the lenses?

SA: Get a 50mm. Always start with a 50mm.

MDN: What is the secret to taking a good photo?

SA: For sports, I’d say don’t watch the play. Take a picture of the play. I see a lot of people that get lost in watching it and then realize, “Oh, I have a camera in my hand. I probably should have taken a picture of that.”

Always keep your eye on the viewfinder. Be ready.

MDN: Solid advice. Do you want to add anything else?

SA: Try to stay creative. I know times are tough having to stay indoors. But, I think it would be cool to see more creative people putting stuff out there. I like what Josh and I did. It was Josh’s idea.

I think it would be cool to start a photo competition. I think Josh and I are going to try and put that together next week. Maybe like a bracket with a bunch of photographers, and have a little competition.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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