Sean Perry

American Photographer | Born: 1968

Sean Perry is a fine-art photographer living and working in New York City and Austin, Texas. His photographs and books center on architecture, space and light - expressing the ambiance felt within built environments. He is currently completing three series/books on New York City entitled Monolith, Gotham and Fotopolis, as well as exhibiting a recently completed body of work on the dreamscape of temporary environments, Fairgrounds.

Perry attended Berklee College of Music and was a working musician before turning to photography in 1996. His photographs and books have been acquired by notable private collectors including Manfred Heiting and Alan Siegel in addition to being held in the permanent collections of the Museum Fine Arts Houston, the Amon Carter Museum, Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, and the Harry Ransom Center.

Cloverleaf Press published Perry's first limited edition book, Transitory in 2006, and followed with a second title, Fairgrounds in the Fall of 2008. In 2009 he was selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters award for his work and book Fairgrounds. His photographs have been published widely including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Graphis, Camera Arts, New York Magazine, Billboard and American Photography.

He has served as an adjunct Professor of Photography in Austin since 2001 as well as an adjunct Professor for the School of Visual Arts in New York City since 2006. Perry frequently contributes his photographs to auctions that benefit photographic and social concerns. His work is represented by the Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Austin.


Interview with Sean Perry

All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
Sean Perry: When I was younger I didn't know or have access to any professional photographers, but I really loved movies and looked at a lot of books. At that time I got into music and everything else was just secondary. As a musician I always thought about pictures and the visual atmosphere great songs provoke and in my thirties I started photographing and haven’t stopped.

AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom?
SP: I don’t have a formal background studying photography but it’s not quite right to say I'm self taught either. One of my old bandmates, Jeff Miller is a brother to me, a great photographer and my first teacher - I learned about cameras, making good pictures and printing in the darkroom. That experience was also my first big introduction to contemporary artists like Joel-Peter Witkin and The Starns. I later had important mentors in a photographer I assisted for, Frank Curry and a sculptor who has had a tremendous influence on me as an artist and photographer, John Christensen.

AAP:Do you have a mentor?
SP: I have a few friends and colleagues who I admire and trust that I ask for insight and guidance with various things... Elizabeth Avedon, Jace Graf, Stephen Clark - there are others. I ask different people, different questions for different reasons if that makes sense. I think it's important to deeply consider who you ask and why. I've been a client of Mary Virginia Swanson for many years and her savvy is always invaluable, I truly owe her a great deal. I'm always learning and seeking out the chance to improve and grow.

AAP: How long have you been a photographer?
SP: I have been making pictures consistently since 1996 and started working professionally in 1998.

AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
SP: What I remember most are the pictures that when I saw the film, they made me feel that the image was somehow better, or more than my capability at the time. It would lead to months of chasing and trying to catch up to the image. The first time that happened was of a barren tree in the wintertime, backlit. I remember making the other pictures from that time, but the experience of seeing something unexpected back on the contact sheets always sticks with me as meaningful.

AAP: What or who inspires you?
SP: Music always. Also the discovery and study of people that give themselves to their pursuits with the discipline and heart to be excellent. New York City. Late fall leading to snow and cold weather makes me happy.

AAP: How could you describe your style?
SP: A little romantic but not sentimental - sci-fi but not overtly conceptual. I always work to make beautiful images and objects that don’t apologize for their consideration of aesthetic and design. My experience has taught me there is a strange, small line between beautiful and pretty, arbitrary and yet often substantial. I think my favorite word or aim for my work is earnest, and hopefully elegant. I try to be consistent and to quote someone I deeply respect, Paul Rand – "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good."

AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
SP: I’m fluent in digital tools and use them to manage images online etcetera, but I have used the same camera gear for over twelve years. Hasselblad 501CM with a 120mm lens and 25A Red filter. Tri-X film in A12 backs. Processed in D76, 1 to 1. Silver gelatin prints bleached and then toned in combinations of sepia and selenium or platinum–palladium prints from enlarged negatives.

AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
SP: I tend to run film and then not look at it for a while.... I then go through the contact sheets and make work prints of the things that seem to have promise. As the series and work evolves the process of editing, sequencing and design kicks in. After the edges of a project are more or less in place, I’ll go back again and see what I may have missed on the contact sheets.

AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?
SP: If I am only allowed one, Irving Penn – hands down, no one else. I love books and too many favorites to list, but in no particular order others would be Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison, Tom Baril, Louis Faurer, Edward Burtynsky, Albert Watson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Berenice Abbott and Matt Mahurin.

AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
SP: Fearlessly make all the bad pictures you need to in order to get to the good ones. Not thoughtlessly in the number of images, but without hesitation in the intent to chase your ideas. When you are disappointed, try to understand why specifically – was it a technical mistake your effort and experience will resolve over time or was it about vision in what you could or could not see at that moment. The technical things are usually easier to improve upon, I have found the other takes additional perseverance and courage. For myself there is always the confrontation of closing the distance between the potency I’m after and the many challenges at hand while guiding it there. I think the biggest secret is simply not to quit.

AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?
SP: Everyone is different, so very hard to say. I believe one truth for myself has been it’s more valuable to invest time in what your pictures, your life, your point of view are all about and less energy worrying about the urgency sometimes encouraged in technology and shorter term concerns. Play long ball.

AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?
SP: I am currently administrating an ambitious project that connects college students with high school students, creating mentorship and the development of visual language. For the college students it is to illustrate the value of mentorship from both sides, as well as create meaningful dialogue about photography and image making. It provides a mechanism for high school students to share and express their photographic work with a new audience and has direct, tangible advantages for everyone involved – accenting the importance of communication and emphasizing the photography community's tradition of portfolio review. Visit The Picture Review.

AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?
SP: All of my favorite memories are darkroom related. My first darkroom was in John Christensen's studio, I deeply miss those days and that place. I would often print all day and all night - it's where I learned about photo-chemistry and the subtleties of split-toning and other irresistible alchemy.

AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?
SP: My checking account.

AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?
SP: It's an interesting question but it reminds me of a rock & roll story, urban legend I remember as a kid and recently retold in Esquire Magazine. When Van Halen was touring in the late 70’s they were opening for Ted Nugent who admired Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone. Among other things, Eddie would hide one of his effect pedals (a tape echo) in an old bomb casing, adding to the mystery of his great tone and why he sounded the way he did. Everyone believed he had a "magic" black box. During sound check, Ted Nugent got the chance to play through Eddie’s rig and was disappointed to discover his guitar tone was unchanged – he sounded like he always did and whatever he loved about Eddie's tone was in his hands and not in the gear.

I think photographs are like that, there are many pictures I would be thrilled if I had produced but in the end I can only make what is in my hands and heart. The images I love that others have made don't represent my life and could never belong to me. I remain a fan and audience to my heroes, happily so.

Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

More Great Photographers To Discover

Katherine Westerhout
Nationality: American

From www.katwest.com
Katherine received her B.A. in Art/Photography from San Francisco State University and began exhibiting in the mid 1990's. She has shown widely in the United States and abroad, and is represented by Electric Works (formerly, Trillium Press) in San Francisco. Among her collectors are the San Jose Museum of Art; Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University; (…)
 
Salvatore Valente
Nationality: Italy
Born: 1960
Salvatore Valente was born in Ostuni (Italy) on 10 June 1960. He began his career in the eighties, he discovered the passion for Ethnic groups in the world and above all for all those communities that are disappearing by organizing travels in search of populations in danger of extinction. During his professional growth as a photojournalist he has made several photo exhibitions, rich in lights and colors, natural landscapes, splits of everyday life and the expressiveness of (…)
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
Salvatore Valente
 
Garry Winogrand
Nationality: American
Born: 1928 - Died: 1984
Garry Winogrand (14 January 1928, New York City – 19 March 1984, Tijuana, Mexico) was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid-20th century. John Szarkowski called him the central photographer of his generation. Winogrand was influenced by Walker Evans and Robert Frank and their respective publications American Photographs and The Americans. Henri Cartier-Bresson was another influence although stylistically different.
Winogrand was known for his (…)
 
Marjorie Salvaterra
Nationality: American
Marjorie Salvaterra’s images reveal “a fine line between sanity and insanity,” according to Virginia Heckart, Associate Curator of Photography at The Getty Center. Salvaterra’s exhibitions include: Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France; Clark-Oshin Gallery, Los Angeles, Solo Exhibit, 2011; MOPLA Opening Night Solo Exhibit - 2011, Los Angeles; "Fuck Pretty" - Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles, 2011, “Classic Camera Show,” Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco; “Contrast LA,” at A&I (…)
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
Marjorie Salvaterra
 
Katia Chausheva
Nationality: Bulgarian
Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Winner of the grand prix by Lumix Awards in Sofia, 2006. lives and works in Plovdiv.
 
Alicia Savage
Nationality: American
Alicia Savage is a self-portrait photographer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Her fine art photography is very much a documentation of her life and mind as a 29-year-old woman exploring life; inspired by her surroundings and recent travels. "Photography has opened my mind and heart to understand myself and the world beyond what is assumed; to always be inspired by my curiosity and imagination of what is and could be."
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
Alicia Savage
 
Luigi Avantaggiato
Nationality: Italian
Born: 1984
Born in Zurich in 1984, Luigi Avantaggiato is a Rome based freelance photographer specialized in documentary, editorial, and cross-media project. He started working as a documentary photographer after his doctoral studies in Visual Studies, which helped him to develop a profound interest in global social and environmental issues. Because of his work he has visited several countries in the world in state of emergency: Lebanon, Iraq, Colombia, Greece, Kosovo. His images have (…)
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
Luigi Avantaggiato
 
Caterina Bernardi
Nationality: Norwegian

About
I was born in a town called Orkanger on the north-west coast of Norway, the land of the northern lights and long winters. This is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from, with its incredibly dramatic scenery and landscapes, and fairytales I grew up with; stories of moody and mystical Nordic environments brimming with depictions of trolls, princesses and nature.

My connection with photography first blossomed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I lived (…)
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
Caterina Bernardi
 
Romain Laurendeau
Nationality: French
Romain Laurendeau lives in Toulouse, France. He learned photography in High school and then went to the multimedia school of ETPA in Toulouse. His work was quickly noticed and won the Ilford contest. In 2003 he took photos of his grand-parents. The project "Papymamy" won the "coup de coeur" of Kodak's "Bouse du Talent". At the same time he did an introspective work about the night, taking photos of people drowning in their urban surroundings. This work was published and (…)
 
Philipp Bolthausen
Nationality: American
Akzidenz currently living and working between Paris and New York. His education focused around art and communication studies in Paris and New York, where he lived and worked for many years before returning to Paris. He presently works as an art director for some of the mosthigh-end luxury brands worldwide.
This background has a rooted presence in his work - in that he is less interested in the representational qualities of the photograph, focusing more on the exploration (…)
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
Philipp Bolthausen
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
 
NEW! All About Photo Awards 2019 Magazine
All About Photo Awards 2019
 
 
 
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
 
TAKES U TO THE NEXT LEVEL
 
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices