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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Professional photographer talks life on the job


Sean Parker poses at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona, in 2016. Parker’s photography is currently featured in Hotel Congress’ Art in the Lobby series.

Sean Parker is a professional photographer in Tucson who specializes in astrophotography, time-lapse photos and landscape photography. He has been featured in publications such as BBC, The New York Times and Discovery. When he’s not taking the landscape images he’s famous for, he’s teaching photography to individuals interested in learning more about the art.

His work is currently on display in Hotel Congress’s Art in the Lobby exhibit series until March 31.

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Daily Wildcat: How did you get started in photography?

Sean Parker: It’s a funny story, actually. I was at the Sky Bar, an astronomy-related bar, and they had a telescope outside, so I was there with my friends just looking at the cosmos, the night sky. The astronomer said to take a picture of the moon with an iPhone. That’s how it started, me taking a picture of the moon with my iPhone through a telescope. He said if I bring back a digital SLR camera, I could take a picture of the nebula and galaxies and stuff. So I borrowed my friend’s camera and started doing that with him at the Sky Bar. Then I was doing that during all of my free time. 

DW: How was it after that? 

SP: Photography has blown up in my face, as far as being known for stuff. It was just a hobby for me and I took photos for fun. It wasn’t until I started getting published more when I started realized that I could make money off of it. I never thought I’d be where I am now when I first started. Absolutely not. 

I was working in a computer store and I’d come in red-eyed because I would be up all night shooting the stars and I came to the point where I didn’t want to be at my desk job anymore. All I wanted was to put all my effort into my newfound creativity. 

DW: Was it worth it? 

SP: Absolutely. I’m my own boss now; I have my own hours; I travel the world. I get to meet awesome people. I found that I get to share my passion with the world. That is the best part of my job. 

DW: Can you tell me a little more about the workshops that you teach?

SP: A lot of people would come up to me or comment on my posts and ask me, “how do you do this?” Then it came to the point where I could answer everyone’s questions. So I figured, why not hold a group seminar and teach them, hands-on, how to do it?

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DW: What do you like the most about what you do?

SP: The hours. [laughs]

Actually, what I like the most about it is being able to portray the beauty of the universe as I see it. And connecting with those who show the same passion and who appreciate it. Photography has taken me to really awesome places, mentally and physically. I have traveled the world to really remote and beautiful locations. And I’ve met the best people through it. 

DW: What do you like the least about your job?

SP: The business side of things. It’s really hard to make sure you’re responding to all emails, comments online, your local clients and your corporate clients. Oh, and expenses, taxes and all that stuff is probably the most frustrating part of it all. 

DW: How did you get to be part of the Art in the Lobby exhibit?

SP: I was reached [to] about six months ago and asked how I would like to do a show during the gem show, which is one of the busiest times of the year in Tucson. So I said, “Yeah, that would be great.”

I don’t do many shows. There’s a lot of work and investment that goes into it. I have an online web-store and prints where people can buy stuff and see. 

I said yes because I would like to do more shows. I love coming to [Hotel] Congress. I’ve been coming to Congress ever since I’ve moved here, so it was a proud moment for me to be included here for my own six-week show.

I like my show a lot. I named it “Tucson Skies” because I wanted to show the diversity in the skies of Tucson. You know, we have the dark skies; we have the monsoon that lights up our skies with lightning and clouds and whatnot; we have the desert with its beautiful sunsets. 

I like the idea of putting that show up here and showing it all to the people that are visiting what we have to show for. That’s why I chose the photos I did.

DW: What else would you like to share with Wildcats?

SP: To see cool pics, follow me on the “Instagrams,” as I call it. It sounds funny. It’s @seanparkerphotography and @seanparkeradventures, which is more personal, I would say. I just post what I want. I don’t have to worry about it being an actual photograph. It’s all behind the scene and my adventure photos. My Facebook page, Sean Parker Photography.

If you ever want to learn how to take photographs, take one of my workshops. I give a student discount and I do one class a month locally.

DW: One last thing: What advice would you give aspiring photographers?

SP: Take your time. Be prepared for failure and error. Don’t stop. Shoot a lot.

Be ready to put a lot of effort into it. There’s lots of competition and everyone thinks they’re a photographer. iPhones are becoming of a lot better quality than they used to be, so a lot of people are getting all fixed up with it. So it makes it hard for photographers who carry around the big cameras all the time. 

But just prepared for hard work and error. Because we’ve all been there.

Follow Melissa Vasquez on Twitter.

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