We had the good fortune of connecting with Parker Burr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Parker, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I should start by expressing that I never planned on pursuing a creative career, it was more of a happy accident. I majored in business and worked for tech companies for about four years before becoming a full-time photographer. At one point, I was laid off from my job, and in the three months it took me to find/start my next job, I needed something to fill my time, so I bought a Canon Rebel for $100 on OfferUp and decided to give photography a go. Fast forward a few years, and here we are! I remember growing up and always seeing features like People Magazine’s ‘celebrity no makeup’ editions and I was obsessed with knowing the behind the scenes details. I was always drawn to the simplicity of these shoots, and the intimate perspective that they provided. I think most of my passion derives from this and has developed into showing people how fascinating they are just being themselves without much embellishment. This is one of the reasons I find so much joy working with models who are earlier in their careers. The same goes for portrait sessions, or working with individuals who are not photographed regularly. It’s truly gratifying to show someone how captivating they are from another person’s perspective. It’s empowering for everyone involved. Something special about photoshoots is that they foster genuine connections in a very short timeframe. The connection I form with the talent on shoots is imperative to the success of the shoot. This authenticity was almost always absent, and at best forced, in previous jobs I held; I always left work feeling drained and uninspired. For my photography to be compelling, there is an element of vulnerability that is necessary. The bonds that form as a result are incredibly refreshing and energizing – something that allows me to fall in love with photography time and time again. When I reflect on why I chose to embrace a creative career, it ultimately comes down to the quality of my days spent immersed in something I’m passionate about, paired with the limitless opportunities of being an entrepreneur. It’s an incredible feeling to experience the positive affect my work has on other people. It’s equally empowering to know that I get to be in full control of my career and my future. Nothing is quite as liberating as waking up each day knowing that I get to call the shots for my own life!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I try to keep all of my work clean, classic, and timeless. Our world has become so crowded and loud, that simplicity has almost become a novelty. I think that people really appreciate this – they can enjoy the image without having to decipher layers or wonder if they are interpreting it as it was intended. Hopefully my images leave people inspired as well! My work places a large emphasis on capturing the essence of my subjects. I’m extremely particular about capturing the subtle nuances in a person’s body language and facial expressions. I think when photographing a person in such a simple setting, these elements are what elevate the final product. I’m more meticulous about this than any other aspect of my photographs. I’ve noticed that people are more responsive to the quality and authenticity of the subject’s expression and movement than they are to the technical quality of the photo; this is why I place so much significance on forming authentic connections with the people I shoot – it’s kind of the secret sauce and something that can’t be replicated. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way: -Monetizing your craft doesn’t have to be directly related to how talented or far advanced you are. You can earn while you learn. A creative career doesn’t mean you have to be broke. -Get over rejection. It will happen often, but you will get a yes at some point. Rejection is rarely personal; there are almost always other factors at play. -Write down your long term goals, then break those down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. It’s so important to have direction when you are working for yourself, otherwise you will spin in circles. Also, when you put your goals into writing, it makes it easier to take things less personally and to be more persistent. -Don’t worry too much about what others are doing. Take a peek and be supportive, but focus on your own goals. People will start recognizing you sooner than you think.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh wow. There are so many places that I love around LA. Typically my days look a bit more relaxed, but if my friend was visiting, our day would probably look something like this: We would start the day with some sort of fitness. Either a hike or a HIIT class. For a hike I prefer the less crowded trails, like Fryman Canyon, Trebek Open Space, or something around my neighborhood in Laurel Canyon. For a HIIT class we would go visit my friends at Training Mate! After that, we would swing by Twist Eatery on La Brea to grab a cold brew and some brunch to fuel us for a day at the beach. We would probably hit Will Rogers or, if we had time, go further up to Zuma beach in Malibu. I’m not a huge fan of Venice or Santa Monica, they are too crowded for my taste. When the sun starts to set, we would head back home for a glass of wine and to get ready for dinner. Dinner would definitely be at Pace; it’s an intimate Italian restaurant that boasts an upscale, cozy atmosphere – by far the best restaurant in LA! After dinner, we would head down to V Wine room in West Hollywood. This is an intimate wine bar that specializes in selections from boutique California wineries. I have spent many late nights here sipping wine and having great conversations with friends and bartenders who became friends. If the party should continue, we would take a stroll down the street to all of the bars on Santa Monica Blvd and let the night take us where it will!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My boyfriend, Will! They say to surround yourself with people who you want to be like, and this couldn’t have proven to be more true for me. I have watched Will build a successful business from the ground up and it has been so inspiring. If it wasn’t for him and seeing his success first hand, I would have struggled to believe that working for myself was attainable. Check out his production company, Envizion Group, which is a one stop solution for production space, production design, and gear rentals. www.enviziongroup.com *There is a book by Meg Jay called “The Defining Decade” that I think deserves an honorable mention as well. This book offers some sage advice on decision making in our 20s, and has helped me navigate some of life’s complexities. One takeaway I found particularly useful is the notion that making the wrong decision is less detrimental than making no decision at all.