Meet Shaughn Cooper, One of the DMV’s Most Dynamic Photographers
For those who haven’t heard of Shaughn Cooper, I guarantee that you’ve seen his work before. He has shot everything from some of your favorite artists, to sporting events such as the Washington Wizards, to even portraits of the DMV’s most familiar faces. To label Shaughn’s photography as just one dimensional would be doing him an injustice, with his work spanning across several genres. In my latest interview, I caught up with Shaughn to learn more about his life, work, inspirations, camera gear, his advice for upcoming photographers and much more.
Give us a little background about where you’re from?
So I’m a little bit from everywhere. I was born in PG, I lived in NE until I was about 8, then I moved to Clinton, MD, then I moved to Landover, afterward to Forestville, back to NE, and now I’m back in Clinton MD. I guess you can say I’ve been around a lot lol.
When it comes to capturing an image, whose work influences you the most?
I would say music has influenced me more than other photographers. Some of my biggest inspirations come from Kanye West, Eminem, Outkast, Jay-Z, Pharrell, ATCQ, The Pharcyde, Common, The Roots, Cortex, Eden Ahbez, Robert Drasnin, and plenty more artists; I honestly could have you sit here for another hour or so reading more artists, but I’d rather not. Some photographers that inspire me are Terry Richardson (other than the wild situations he gets himself into, I think his work is pretty good), Annie Leibovitz, GRVTY, Othellobanaci, Shotbyshahid, Orliarias, and Setitoff.tv.
What was the moment when you knew that you had to follow this passion?
When I heard Alan Watts’s “If Money Was No Object” on Logic’s The Incredible True Story’s last track while reading Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist is when I decided to pursue my passion.
What is your favorite go-to camera and lens to shoot with?
My go to camera is my Nikon N90 and it usually has my 50mm f1.8 on it.
What do you think is your most important project to date and why?
In my opinion, none of my projects that I’ve released in the past have held any importance; I haven’t really had the chance to work on a big project with a lot of meaning. I told myself that I’m gonna make sure that I get more space in my schedule to brainstorm and start a big project this summer.
What advice would you have for someone that wants to pursue photography?
Just do it; it takes to long to try.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I wish I would’ve known that having 2 or 3 clients is a lot better than having a thousand and running around a million miles a minute. After a while, the money doesn’t hold any value if you don’t have a peace of mind.
Is there any specific person you’d love to shoot that you haven’t?
I’d love to shoot YE, I feel as though none of his past photographers haven’t done him any justice.
What’s your favorite photo or backstage moment? It seems like there are lots of memorable moments, over the course of a few minutes.
My favorite has to be with DMX; X is a crazy guy lol.
Saturday had to be the wildest night of my life. This man @dmx looked at my camera and was like “Damn nigga, what the fuck is that in your hand? Let me see that shit!” Beings though that I was confused off the strength that DMX acknowledged me, I handed it to him and he was like “Nigga, had this been 10 years ago, I would’ve ran off with this shit! Keep working!” Felt great to share daps and pounds with a legend 🙏🏾 s/o to @patisdope for putting it together.
Tell me how you go about choosing different locations for the photos. You’ve captured people doing normal things like, in the park, at concerts, artists, sporting events. Which setting do you prefer to shoot and why do you like to present images of people in this way?
Since I’ve started shooting a lot, I started leaving out at least two hours before for my shoots and I like to drive slow to look for other spots to shoot at for other shoots.
You work so hard man, What do you enjoy doing on your free time?
In my spare time I like to read.
I know it’s the beginning for you, but what’s next for Shaughn?
I’m hoping to travel more and slowly get work out of state. In the end, I wanna be able to travel around the world and have work in every country, mainly big jobs though.