Alumni Spotlight:
Sean Fleming (MAAS '20)

November 21, 2023

Name: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­Sean Fleming
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Master of Arts in Architectural Studies
Graduation Year: 2020
Employer: Sean Fleming Photography
Architectural Photographer

"Many architectural photographers I look up to were once architects themselves or formally studied design, and I believe their education shows in their work."

Dress shirt, Flash photography, Forehead, Hair, Cheek, Jaw, Neck, Sleeve, Eyelash, Gesture

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Texas A&M University in 2017 and decided to pursue a career in architectural photography soon after. After a couple of years working as an architectural photographer, I realized I wanted to understand better the built environment and how to best represent it through my photography. I chose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design because of the unique Master of Arts in Architectural Studies program the school offered for someone like me. Many architectural photographers I look up to were once architects themselves or formally studied design, and I believe their education shows in their work. I wanted to immerse myself in the design world and emerge with a more profound comprehension of the motivations and methodologies employed by architects and designers.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time on campus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?
It is hard to choose a specific one, but I especially liked exploring the Jenkins Architecture, Design, and Art Library. Pouring over the well-known and not-so-well-known books and manuscripts shaping architectural design and art ideas throughout our modern history was one of my favorite things to do in between classes. Like so many other students, Gail Borden was a huge help and influence during my time at the school. I also enjoyed Stephen Fox’s Houston architecture class. I find history fascinating; one of my favorite things to do when not on an assignment is photographing local historical architecture. So, it was no shock Stephen Fox would become one of my favorite professors.

above: THE Houston Skyline; Texas Tower designed by Pelli Clark & Partners 2021

Tell us about a typical day in your job. Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?
One philosophy I have found instrumental in my business is remembering that personal creativity and passion projects are just as, if not more important, than your professional work. I have found a lot of value in engaging in independent pursuits. After graduation, I think it can be easy to lose track of why you chose a career in architecture and design, especially if you are not exercising your creativity in the same ways you did while in school. Working on personal projects is a great way to keep you creative and can often lead to fruitful business endeavors.

above: The Commercial National Bank Building by Lewis Green and Gerhard Svarz 1904; Commercial Interior by Ziegler Cooper Architects

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel the College prepared you for this?
In a more general sense, I consider my career thus far an accomplishment in itself. Being able to make a living as a photographer and collaborating with some of the most creative architects and designers throughout Texas and the country has been a major accomplishment. I find my work incredibly rewarding, and I am excited about the direction I am heading. The Hines College prepared me for this by immersing me in the collaborative process from day one.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?
Hines College taught me a lot about how collaboration works within the art and architecture field. Working cooperatively with others on creative processes can only lead to more successful outcomes. I believe this collaborative process to be one of the most important lessons I learned in school.

What advice would you give to current architecture and design students?
Don’t stop exercising your creativity on personal projects and/or creative endeavors outside of work.

Social Media: @s.m.fleming


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