WELD Artist of the Week: Sean Berry
Career: Photographer | Graphic Designer
Mantra: Suck less today than I did yesterday.
Interview by: Kristin Read
Are you the son of a music mogul, or what’s the deal? You seem to have made quite the photography career in the music industry, yes?
I started out my photography career by contacting the bands I liked coming through Dallas. I would jump on the train without my parents knowing and shoot concerts. After college, I got in touch with a connection I had in New York that landed me a 1.5-year career at Atlantic Records. During that time, I worked for people who put up concerts on Governor’s Island like “Rock the Bells.” I shot a total of 40 performances on Governors Island with artists like: Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, KRS-ONE, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Wiz Khalifa. In a matter of three months in New York, I shot 160 concerts—so when I moved back to Texas, I didn’t want to go to another concert. I still shoot them here and there, and one of my favorite bands to work with is The Orbans from Ft. Worth (a very respectful group of guys, which is rare in the music industry).
Not to limit your skills to photographing musicians, as it seems you’ve made your impact with a vast group of clients … What has been your favorite client or project thus far?
Atlantic Records, hands down. I shot Wiz Khalifa before he made a name for himself in the music industry. His images ended up being featured in 30-something publications, the biggest being Rolling Stone. It was an incredible experience, but I wish I could go back and shoot it knowing what I know now.
Favorite editing technique? Any hidden gems you feel most photographers overlook/forget?
For editing artist images, I take things into Lightroom and work heavily with contrast. It’s easy to make images pop if the setting is tweaked correctly. Specifically with weddings, I get both praised and shot down because I like to slightly overexpose images. I feel like you don’t see a lot of that done correctly. A number of wedding photographers’ images are too even-toned … Which doesn’t make that photographed event—the biggest in one’s life—stand out above any other day-in-the-park photo shoot. I guess I prefer incredibly bright images because I feel that light can be a good way to capture love.
What do you do when you’re not working?
It’s hard for me to remember what it feels like not to work. Last I remember I enjoy bike riding downtown with buddies and the occasional concert. But I also love having intense one-on-one conversations with people. That’s what I really like to do: talk.
Tell me about your first production photo shoot.
Well, my first real production photo shoot was actually last May, when I was 23. I did a full-day ad shoot for the Calise Partners who represented Freedom One Tuners. I had two assistants, two art directors, and a stylist. Of course, looking back there are things I would have done differently, but that experience taught me a lot about myself, and things I should be prepared for with future productions.
What is the most awkward shoot you have been a part of?
My most awkward experience took place in Las Vegas. After my flight landed, I realized all of my equipment was lost. While I’m on the phone with the airline trying to figure out where my stuff is, this band member walks up to me and starts screaming and threatening to kill me. Fortunately, I was able to complete the shoot, which went amazing, and the guy apologized. And after finding out that the guy is an ex con … I was extremely excited to get out of Las Vegas.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last year of your career?
People are everything in this industry. If you don’t form deep and meaningful relationships with those you work with, you’ll be left in the dust. Shallow encounters won’t cut it. It really doesn’t matter how good your book of work is anymore if you don’t know the right people.
Take my photo? Please and thanks.
I would love to.