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Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry

Sean Perry

Country: United States
Birth: 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.

 

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Pierre Edouard Leopold Verger, alias Fatumbi or Fátúmbí was a photographer, self-taught ethnographer, and babalawo (Yoruba priest of Ifa) who devoted most of his life to the study of the African diaspora - the slave trade, the African-based religions of the new world, and the resulting cultural and economical flows from and to Africa. At the age of 30, after losing his family, Pierre Verger took up the career of journalistic photographer. Over the next 15 years, he traveled the four continents, documenting many civilizations that would soon be effaced by progress. His destinations included Tahiti (1933); United States, Japan, and China (1934 and 1937); Italy, Spain, Sudan (now Mali), Niger, Upper Volta, Togo and Dahomey (now Benin, 1935); the West Indies (1936); Mexico (1937, 1939, and 1957); the Philippines and Indochina (now Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, 1938); Guatemala and Ecuador (1939); Senegal (as a conscript, 1940); Argentina (1941), Peru and Bolivia (1942 and 1946); and finally Brazil (1946). His photographs were featured in magazines such as Paris-Soir, Daily Mirror (under the pseudonym of Mr. Lensman), Life, and Paris Match. In the city of Salvador, Brazil he fell in love with the place and people, and decided to stay for good. Having become interested in the local history and culture, he turned from errant photographer to a researcher of the African diaspora in the Americas. His subsequent voyages are focused on that goal: the west coast of Africa and Paramaribo (1948), Haiti (1949), and Cuba (1957). After studying the Yoruba culture and its influences in Brazil, Verger became an initiated of the Candomblé religion, and officiated at its rituals. During a visit to Benin, he was initiated into Ifá (cowrie-shell divination), became a babalawo (priest) of Orunmila, and was renamed Fátúmbí ("he who is reborn through the Ifá"). Veger's contributions to ethnography are embodied in dozens of conference papers, journal articles and books and were recognized by Sorbonne University, which conferred upon him a doctoral degree (Docteur 3eme Cycle) in 1966 — quite a feat for someone who dropped out of high school at 17. Verger continued to study and document his chosen subject right until his death in Salvador, at the age of 94. During that time he became a professor at the Federal University of Bahia in 1973, where he was responsible for the establishment of the Afro-Brazilian Museum in Salvador; and served as visiting professor at the University of Ifé in Nigeria. The non-profit Pierre Verger Foundation in Salvador, which he established to continue his work, holds more than 63,000 photos and negatives taken until 1973, as well as his papers and correspondence. Source: Wikipedia
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Mexico
1984
Yael Martínez (born 1984) is a Mexican Photographer which became a Magnum Photos Nominee member in 2020. Martínez is based in Guerrero, Mexico. Martínez's work has explored the connections between, poverty, narcotrafic, organized crime, and how this affects on the communities in his native Guerrero in southern Mexico. He is trying to represent the relationship of absence and presence and this state of invisibility in a symbolic manner working with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting. Yael Martínez received the Magnum Emergency Fund, Magnum On religión, and was named one of the PDN´s 30 new and emerging photographers to watch in 2017. In 2015 he was selected in the Joop Joop Swart Master Class Latinoamerica and was finalist in the Eugene Smith grant in 2015, 2016. He was nominated to the Foam Paul Huf Award, the Prix Pictet and the Infinity award of the International Center of Photography.Source: www.yaelmartinez.com Martínez’s work addresses fractured communities in his native Mexico. He often works symbolically to evoke a sense of emptiness, absence, and pain suffered by those affected by organized crime in the region. He is the recipient of the Eugene Smith Award 2019, was fellow of the Photography and Social Justice Program of The Magnum Foundation. He won the 2nd Prize of the World Press Photo contests 2019 in the category of long-term projects. Martínez was grantee of the Magnum Foundation in the grants: Emergency Fund and On Religion in 2016- 2017. His work has been featured in group shows in America, Europe, Africa and Asia. His work has been published by: The Wall Street Journal, Blomberg news, Lens NY times, Time, Vogue Italy, Vrij Nederland, Aperture.Source: Magnum Photos
Jeff Corwin
United States
1954
Over the years, Jeff Corwin has taken photos out of a helicopter, in jungles, on oil rigs and an aircraft carrier. Assignments included portraits of famous faces, including Bill Gates and Groucho Marx and photos for well-known corporate clients like Microsoft, Apple, Rolls-Royce and Time/Life. After 40+ years as a commercial photographer, Corwin has turned his discerning eye to fine art photography, primarily landscape vistas. He carried his same vision forward, his desire and ability to see past the clutter and create photographs grounded in design. Simplicity, graphic forms, strong lines or configurations that repeat are what personally resonate - a reaction to experience, spirit and instinct. Visual triggers are stark and isolated vistas: a black asphalt road cutting for miles through harvested wheat; an empty, snowy field with a stream creating a curve to a single tree; or a small barn, the roof barely visible above a barren hillside. Trusting his vision is important to Corwin. He has always kept the same approach, the same eye, looking for and adding to the visual qualities that arrest him. This holds true even in his non-landscape work. He cites his mentor Arnold Newman and the works of Piet Mondrian and Edward Hopper as inspiration. His experience has taught him not to second guess elements like composition or content. Humble shapes, graphic lines. Eliminate clutter. Light when necessary. Repeat. His commercial work has won many prestigious awards and garnered vast international media coverage. Corwin's career shift into fine art photography is being met with the same serious attention. He is currently exhibiting in several important contemporary galleries throughout the western United States. Statement Before I started to devote myself full time to my personal work, I spent 40 years in the world of commercial photography. The majority of my clients were ad agencies and graphic design firms. My photographic focus was on corporate offices, factories, oil refineries and aerospace companies with dark busy manufacturing facilities. I learned that my job title was not "photographer." What I really was - a problem solver. Over the first few years, I developed a style that, with the help of artificial lighting, helped me to see past the clutter and create photographs that were more design than immediately recognizable objects. I worked with whatever was there, all the mundane things that most people walk by or do not notice. I saw great imagery in graphic shapes, shapes that repeat, like patterns in ceilings from ugly fluorescent lights or rows of desks or chairs. It was a created opportunity instead of found. I became known as the photographer to send into hell-holes to bring back the goods (a blessing and a curse). Graphis Magazine once used a quote of mine: "It's amazing how much time I spend lighting, just to get things dark enough." Absolutely true! Once I got past that particular hurdle, I was able to move on to subjects that had real possibilities and make them look even better. But I kept the same thought process, the same eye, looking for and adding to the graphic qualities. (A special shout out to mentor Arnold Newman and the works of Piet Mondrian and Edward Hopper.) On to my current images - landscapes. While certainly not working with the same control I had in the advertising world, it provides, in some ways, more. Or perhaps I should simply different. What I have found is that I could bring the same vision I used for my commercial work into my landscape work. In fact, I do not think I really had a choice. The work I do now is 100% informed by my experience shooting for clients. I see how I see and, after 40+ years of making photographs, it seems foolish to try and change now. I trust that what I have learned works. I have even brought artificial light into the landscapes! Simple shapes, graphic lines, eliminate clutter. Light when necessary. Repeat. Galleries Courtney Collins Fine Art Stapleton Gallery Echo Arts Westward Gallery
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Michael Nguyen is a street and documentary photographer living near Munich, Germany. He is also the co-founder of Tagree Magazine. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Jon Enoch
Jon Enoch is a London-based photographer who focuses on portrait and lifestyle photography for advertising and media publications, as well as large organisations. He has won numerous awards for his Vietnamese photography portrait series called cBikes of Hanoi', including the Smithsonian Grand Prize; the Lens Culture Portrait Award and the Portraits of Humanity Award in 2020. The images were also shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award and they won the gold Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) award in 2019. The set of portrait images were featured on the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph and went viral on websites across the world.
Exclusive Interview with Oliver Stegmann
Olivera Stegmann is a Swiss photographer and also the winner of AAP Magazine #16 Shadows with his project 'Circus Noir'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Francesco Gioia
Francesco Gioia is an Italian photographer who lives in England. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 15 Streets with his project 'Wake Up in London'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work
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