We are moving right along with our “I’m a Photographer: Discussions on the life of a Photographer.” series today.  Again,  if you aren’t sure what it’s all about, check this out.  Two down, 4 more to go – get excited ( or relatively happy at least)

Our next interview comes from Shaun Menary is a full time touring musician and a full time professional photographer.  Shaun and I met while he was in Atlanta shooting a friends wedding.  If you think you are busy, you need to read what Shaun has to say.  Shaun lives in Dallas and sleeps very little.  Take a look at what he’s got himself into – very impressive stuff. Also be sure to check out his work here, here, and here with some shot’s at the end of the interview.

Quickly describe your situation/life/craziness as a photographer.

I take photographs full time and play drums full time; sleep is overrated.

Tell us what you shoot, your style and what the perfect day of photography would look like.

Currently I shoot mostly portraits and weddings.  I think my style is a real depiction of my subjects and an honest capture of a days events.  Although I love what I’m shooting, a perfect day of photography would look like this: Waking up late in the morning because of the rock show I played the night before, then having lunch with a band or artist to talk about the portrait session we are going to shoot later in the day for their next album/promo, and then go shoot it.

Where did the photographic bug come from and why has it stayed?  Why not something else? Just “why” in general?

I’ve always had a camera in my hand as long as I can remember, be it that it was usually a yellow disposable, but I always loved capturing the memories in photographs and the whole idea behind it. I think a lot of times looking back at photographs can be more exciting that what was actually happening in the photograph at the time.  I’d say the first time I went into a dark room and dropped the paper into the developer and watched that image appear from beneath the surface…whoa…I was hooked. I’ve just never experienced anything else that moved me in the same way.

At what point did you figure out that it was music and photography, did anything not make the cut?

Yes, I used to do print design and web design professionally and it was a total beat down.  I love the freedom I have as a photographer to see something and tell the viewer about it in my own way. I think people respond to photographs because it shows them a side of things they wouldn’t normally see; it intrigues them. As far as music goes, I’ve been a musician longer than I’ve been anything else, it’s always been around me and in me.  There really is nothing that compares to music. The emotion, the truth, the journey it takes you on. How could you not want to be involved with that!

How do you balance a full wedding season with touring with a band?

Currently, it’s a pretty easy process because weddings pay the bills…and the band does not! Ha. Basically I book all my weddings and we try our best to plan the tours around them. However, if we can’t avoid booking a show then we hire a sub-drummer for the band and I shoot the wedding.  I have a feeling it’s about to get a lot trickier though by the summer!!

Are there days when you wish it was just one or the other?  What are the frustrations and rewards of balancing your passions?

I’d say no matter what I’m always going to be doing photography and music in some capacity because I love them both so much. The hardest part is switching gears. When I get back from being on the road for 3 weeks and I have to then schedule shoots and get into portrait mode, it can be a tricky thing trying to mentally get back into that mode. I think at the end of the day though, that is part of the challenge and that’s what makes it exciting. I have to really push myself to make it happen and I think that keeps both skill sets sharp. I’m forced to not be lazy in them, to keep pressing forward, to keep trying new things and make it exciting.

What’s the next big step for you photographically?  What are you working towards?  What steps to you take to realize those goals?

I’m not sure what the next step is exactly for photography. Right now I’m kind of waiting on the next step for music, and if that falls through, then I will press forward with photography. I’m trying really hard not to dig myself in a whole at this point with one or the other. Waiting is definitely the hardest part because I am driving to pursue both avenues but I’m having to just wait right now. If music did fall through I guess the next step in photography would be rebranding and advertising and pushing nationally with photography. As far as my actual art form and skills, I’m always pushing forward to try new things, but I don’t feel it’s something you can plan for. There is a natural flow and process that it takes on and it moves at its own pace. The trick is to stay inspired. Find things that inspire you and keep pursuing them and the art will flow.

What keeps you going?  What motivates you to keep doing this?

I think mostly that I’m so utterly grateful that I get to not only pursue one of my passions for a career…but two of them! I think I have a rare opportunity that most people will never get the chance to experience. I don’t take it for granted and I thank God for the gifts and passions He’s given me everyday.  Also, fear of the 9-5!!! I am not wired to do any sort of cooperate job, that is for sure!

What advice would you give to people who are in a similar situation as you – balancing two strong passions?

I would say don’t take any of it for granted, you’ve been given gifts and opportunity by grace and should pursue them fiercely. Always stay inspired. And make sure to still make time for your family/personal life; without those, it’s not really worth it.

What’s the best photographic advice you’ve ever received?

Always make time to shoot what you’re passionate about