The Story of a Real Male Model: An Interview with Otero’s Sean Bobby Bryant
Zoolander jokes aside, being a model isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes an intense work ethic, a strong awareness of how your body moves in space, a ton of patience, and enough humility to be willing to pitch in through difficult shoots.
When we first told Sean Bobby that we’d like to interview him for this blog, he just laughed because he doesn’t think of himself primarily as a model, but he was good-natured about telling us about his experiences in front of the camera.
Staff: How did you get into modeling initially?
Sean: It would be an understatement to say that I don’t have a very traditional modeling background, in fact, it was something that just popped up by accident. I was at a Dark Star Orchestra concert in the mountains with my sister. I stepped out of the venue, only to find out that I wouldn’t be allowed back in. So, I went back to the car, and listened to the concert from outside, just sitting under the stars. One of the security guys was patrolling the parking lot, and he stopped to talk to me. It turned out that he was working a security job in part to finance his real dream, which was to start up a modeling agency. The idea seemed interesting, and so I did a little modeling with a photographer. The result of that first project is a calendar I hope no one ever finds. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the experience very much. He was just getting off the ground, and the experience lacked organization or professionalism. But I don’t regret giving it a try. I’m a huge believer in the fact that life is for collecting stories and memories, so that on our deathbeds, we can look back and say that we lived it to the fullest and tried new things.
Staff: If you weren’t working as a model, how did you wind up as one of the faces for Otero?
Sean: Again, the opportunity came up organically. A great friend of mine invited me to write a song for her wedding in Kauai, Hawaii. My friend’s sister just happens to be Stephanie Ohnmacht, a fantastic designer who’s been featured on Under the Gunn, and a couple of other shows. Somewhere along the way, Stephanie ran into CEO Steve Villanueva, and he mentioned that he was having a hard time finding models, because most professional male models are at least six feet tall.
Steve and I met up for a cup of coffee to decide whether we could work together. At first it was a little hard for me to imagine, because Otero is very focused on high-end fashion, and I consider myself to be more of a mountain man who wears clothes that are more functional than really fashionable. Steve was very passionate about his idea, and his vision makes sense. I have had immense difficulty finding jeans—to find a pair of jeans that fits me perfectly is practically impossible. So, I could see his vision and the market that Steve is breaking into, and I was really excited to see what he comes up with.
Long story short, I decided that Otero was something I wanted to be a part of. Steve arranged to do the main photo shoot at a gorgeous private residence in San Antonio. A few weeks later, I flew down with him and the photographer, Jillian Altman. We met up with COO Brett Lawrence the next day and went directly in to shooting.
I imagine that in most of the professional world, you get pampered and just pose. There’s always someone telling you what to do or how to stand. But for us, this was a very organic experience. We all tried to work together to produce professional shots that would represent the best of Otero on the website. We helped each other out by holding reflectors, running errands, having shirts ready in between changing clothes. We all came up with ideas, and Jillian would tell us how to make the most of each possibility.
It was a great experience. I learned a lot about being in front of the camera, but I also got to know the other individuals in the process. They were extremely welcoming and generous; the whole experience was fascinating and humbling all at the same time.
In retrospect, though. I have to say that I’ve also discovered that I don’t really enjoy looking at pictures of myself. The modeling part doesn’t bother me. I just don’t like looking at myself over and over. It's like listening to your own voice, it's a little weird at first.
Staff: But modeling isn’t your day job, right?
Sean: I come from a software background. I worked for a great startup in Denver called Inversoft for about 7 years. This was a learn-as-you-go, drink from the fire hose career building environment. I gradually started seeking out new certifications and qualifications. I moonlighted for a few years and eventuallyI launched my own website design company, Four Eyes Designs.
I consult businesses seeking web development, UI/UX design and workflows, brand design and search engine optimization (SEO). I’m constantly educating myself to stay on top of everything that is technology (within reason). I spend, on average, 5-6 hours per day in around the computer, either at home, a coffee shop, a rock climbing gym, etc.
Staff: Rock climbing and typing seems like a dangerous combination, but, ok... What do you do for fun?
Sean: I like to hang out with my best friend and partner in crime, my lady. We go on adventures: hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, motorcycling, spending time with the pup—Boomer. I make it a point to get up in to the Rockies and Nederland, Colorado to spend time with family. Quick segue, I’d like to buy a cabin in the coming years —with a wood-burning stove in the middle of the house. I seek a very simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle.
It’s been an interesting dynamic for me to use tech to put a roof over my head, but I generally consider myself to be (metaphorically) lost in the woods as often as possible. It pushes me to find myself more and more—letting go of the distractions. The sheer silence of the Colorado mountains gives me a chance to think about what’s truly important.
And then I come back and geek out at my computer desk again. It’s a balance.
Staff: Speaking of balance—you came on board with Otero as a model, but I hear that you’ve also segued into more design work. Is that right?
Sean: Actually, while we were driving to the airport for the photo shoot, Steve told me about the website, and I asked him about his SEO strategy. He had a lot of plans to build a really amazing site, but as we were talking I pushed him to think about the structure behind the code because search engines have their own language, and they have to be able to recognize and interpret your keywords, terms, and phrases. At the time, the conversation was just in passing, but a week or two later, he asked if I was interested in helping with the Otero web design. I said that I would love to support a website with my goofy-looking mug all over it.
I was excited about the project because you have to have a solid foundation, right from the launch, that incorporates the essential search terms. You can have the most beautiful site in the world, but it won’t do you any good if no one can find it. Those key terms need to be established and woven into everything.
Having been adopted into Otero as a model, and then given a chance to help Otero grow—it has been an interesting ride. Everyone is talented in what they do. Everyone has a unique skill set that contributes to the persona of Otero. It’s been a little pressure-sensitive but also extremely humbling. It’s been a privilege to see the way that every member shows up as professionals in the designs, photographs, website—everything. It really shows in the actual clothes. It’s professional. It’s forward-thinking. It just looks really good.
Have you ever modeled? Would you ever want to?