Christopher Parsons

christopher_parsons_photography

Los Angeles, California

How did you get your start with photography?

I was studying architecture at Florida A&M University (FAMU) and found myself feeling lost. I love architecture, but I was having a hard time with some of the math classes. I decided to switch to graphic design and got an internship with Mark Starr Graphics. There I met Justin Huff, and he opened my opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities as a creative. My dad gave me a small point-and-shoot camera for Christmas, and I started shooting friends and a modeling organization on campus. They were terrible pictures, but I kept at it and got better.

How would you describe your photography style?

An expression of emotion.

Every person I shoot is unique in their special way, and my photography is a manifestation of trying to pull these emotions out of them. Also, I have found a way to take the emotions I feel and use the subjects as a vessel to express all the words I necessarily can't say with a pen and paper. My photos are about power, geometry, and shadows. Lately, I've been more into black and white, but I'm beginning to explore more color, so I will be putting more of that out soon.

Where do you draw inspiration for your photos?

Life, movies, my phone is full of screenshots. I'm always looking at old photo books and studying the masters. Photographers are always taking inspiration from each other, especially now with social media. Musicians have to list how they take their samples from, and I often wonder what if photographers had to list who they took their ideas from. One photo would probably have 20 different samples.

On first celebrity jobs:

My first celebrity job was Chris Tucker. I use to do graphics work on his website back in college. In regards to photography, T- Pain was the first celebrity I shot.

You went on the road with Kendrick Lamar & TDE as their tour photographer. How was that experience?

It was an incredible experience. I learned a lot from [Kendrick], watching his work ethic. I got to explore the world. Being that close to someone so successful, you quickly realize how dedicated you have to be; it's a 24/7 commitment to your craft.

Who are some other photographers that have influenced you?

Helmut Newton. He always shot women very powerfully in black and white. There are also a lot of shadows in his work. I love Richard Avedon; he shot a lot of people on white backgrounds and was all about the performance of the performance. He was able to capture people very well. Henri Cartier-Bresson was really about geometry and architecture and people just happen to be in that space. He had a love affair with shapes. Another is Jonathan Mannion. He shot a lot of the early Jay-Z album covers. I got to watch him work, and he is magnificent at bringing out the best in people and having fun.

How do you mentally prepare for a big shoot?

Everything comes from music for me. I listen to music and thinking about the subject I'm about to shoot. If it's a celebrity, I do my research and think about what I want to learn from this person, like what questions do I want to ask about their life. I'm encountering someone who has it figure out and in that conversation is where the photos happen. It's less about the camera and more about the psychology. I have to think about what I'm going to say to this person to make them feel comfortable and drop their veil to show me who they are.

Do you prefer strobe or natural lighting?

Natural Lighting is simple and the less distraction you have, the more attention you can pay to your subjects.

Do you plan to pursue your graphic and film work further in the future?

I had started in graphics before I jumped into photography full force. Now, I rarely tell people I do graphics. I only do graphics that inspire me. I've been really into collage work. Film is my main goal and something I'm exploring more. I started in photography to learn about film. I couldn't afford to go to film school, so I use photography to tell stories in freeze frames. When I shoot video, I want every frame to be a photograph. I want to shoot more music video, more fashion films and eventually movies.

What risks or sacrifices have you made in your career pursuit?

My biggest sacrifice has been time away from my family and missing my nieces grow up. Relationship and friendships tend to suffer at times. Some people don't understand why you are so obsessed or always working. However, I am blessed with great friends in my life who understand and support my journey.

On upcoming projects:

I'm working on my first book right now. I have been shooting the series, and it's going to be pretty incredible I can't wait for everyone to see it. I'm planning to a May release.

What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?

Dream big.

Always dream to the point it scares you and follow that fear.