Breaking the Barrier with Music Photography Pro @ericryananderson
To see more of Eric’s photography, check out @ericryananderson on Instagram. For more music stories, head to Instagram @music.
For anyone who’s been through the unforgivable churn of the New York City arts scene, photographer Eric Ryan Anderson’s (@ericryananderson) tale will sound familiar. At one point he was living in a windowless studio in Brooklyn, making zero money and taking whatever assistants jobs he could find. Having a late start didn’t make things any easier. After graduating from Texas A&M, he went on to work in finance for a few years before ditching the tie, moving to the Big Apple and volunteering in as many places as possible.
“Since I was late to the game, patience wasn’t a strong suit,” recalls Eric, “so I quit assisting after a year and just started taking any photography job that would pay me a few bucks.”
Soon after, Eric was getting steady gigs, eventually climbing his way up the creative ladder. Today, he is known for photographing some of the biggest musicians in the world, from Questlove to Jenny Lewis to Florence Welch. His portfolio isn’t just an example of how far he’s come since his New York days, but from his time growing up in suburban Texas, where he was surrounded by shopping malls and chain restaurants.
“My first actual photography memory was on family vacation,” says Eric. “We were at Wal-Mart, and my folks bought me this little point-and-shoot with a great zoom and several rolls of black-and-white film. We visited a ghost town and I shot like three rolls. I think I still have that stuff somewhere buried back home. I thought I was a regular Ansel Adams at the time.”
Eric maintained a working interest in photography throughout high school, and was a big fan of music as well, though not necessarily the artists you’d expect from someone who grew up in Texas. He leaned more toward Kenny Loggins and Chicago, not Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson.
Today, music still plays an important part in his life — both in the songs he listens to and the approach he takes to working and collaborating with the musicians and other stars he shoots.
“Sometimes it can feel a bit like a transaction, but really all I’m searching for is that one moment where someone lets their guard down,” he says. “Celebrities are so used to being photographed today, and I never walk into a shoot expecting them to see me as anything more than a technician and a checklist in their daily routine. What’s great is when you can break that barrier and engage ever so slightly, reveal a bit about your intentions and learn a bit about their expectations. If you can get just below that surface level, you’re much more likely to come away with something interesting.”