Interview with Lershaun O’Brien | Edition XIX.4
• Photographer •
Name: Lershaun O’Brien
Hometown: Siparia, Trinidad and Tobago
Location: Queens, NY
Short Term Plans?
My current short term goals are modest. Right now it’s all about structuring things to turn a hobby into a full fledged business. I also have plans to further immerse myself in the knowledge and art behind photography. It’s all about getting better.
How do you describe your Photography style to people?
That’s a difficult question. I’m not sure there is a particular style to my photography. If I had to choose one word to describe it though, that word would be candid. It’s important that my pictures are real. At events I rather try to catch something going on as it happens rather than ask people to pose. It keeps me on my toes but it also better captures the essence of the event. Same for photoshoots. I rather my subject move and feel like themselves. Not everyone’s a model and truth be told if you aren’t one you shouldn’t try too hard to emulate a model either. That kind of environment helps loosen people up a bit too. You get those genuine smiles. The real character.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
I haven’t thought too much about this. I love the underground and the up and coming artists we’ve got scattered through NYC so they’re my most coveted subjects. But, as for some famous faces: Will Smith, Rihanna, Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, Jay Z. A spread in GQ magazine would be awesome too.
How does music influence your work?
Well as you can see all of my picks of celebrities to work with are in music. Music has evolved so much it’s crazy and music influences what I do in so many ways. When I’m sitting and editing I’m probably listening to music. The genre of music or the feel of the music I’m lstening to tends to reflect in my editing. It’s kind of bizarre. The visuals in music today are also one of my greatest influences too. One example is like the scene in the video for All of The Lights by Kanye where he’s standing on the cop car in the alleyway and the lights are flashing red and blue. All you see is a silhouette of him illuminated by the lights. That was really dope and I ended up taking a picture at a birthday event I went to that was really inspired by that scene. I also work with unsigned artists often and they usually give me a vision for a shoot. We work with each other to piece it all together and the vision they had for the song or album we’re shooting for shows in the project.
How is the internet changing your craft?
The internet is really pivotal in pretty much all businesses and crafts today. All of my advertising so far has been over the internet. Aside from my website, I also use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to drive my business. Keeping in touch with people and staying connected really helps to move things along. I can’t forget that the internet is pretty much my main resource for information too. Tutorials, articles, inspiration pictures. Pretty much everything I need and use are at my fingertips.
Do you feel like what you are doing is important?
It’s most definitely important for me. Without photography my sanity would be at it’s ends. Photography allows me to be creative and get some of these ideas I have out. I also feel like people are in some ways touched by what I do after working with me. The greatest feeling I get is hearing a genuine thank you or hearing someone talk about how awesome a set of photos are. Seeing people change their profile pictures to a photo with my tag on it. It’s exhilarating.
When you started out did you think it would be a serious business?
Never. I had dreams of it for sure but never did I think it would make me money. It was a hobby. Something to explore my creativity with. I mean once you’ve found something to hold on to then making money doing it really takes it to another level, so I went for it.
Must art have a relationship to the rest of the world?
I have the words “Art is Life” tattooed to my arm. Honestly art is in every part of our day whether we can see it or not. It’s one of those things that despite language barriers and disabilities and anything else you could think of, it can be understood. Art definitely must have a relationship to the rest of the world.
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind
My long term goals are pretty simple. Owning my own photo studio and making this business my primary source of income. My focus is really on the short term right now so maybe one day I’ll dream a little bigger.