Astro photographer Sean Parker is photographed at Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona

Sean Parker hosts astrophotography workshops in and out of Arizona and has even hosted them in Iceland. Photographs courtesy of Sean Parker.

With the Milky Way season for astrophotography well underway, nightscape photographer Sean Parker is busy scheduling workshops and scouting for new locations.

Parker, 29, boasts more than 600,000 followers across his Facebook and Instagram pages, making him one of the most recognizable photographers in the Southwest region. But, while his photographs have been published and seen by admirers and collectors from across the globe, Parker is a relative newcomer to photography.

Parker’s meteoric rise started on a quiet August night in 2011 when the then 23-year-old transplant from Prescott, Arizona, walked into SkyBar on Tucson’s Fourth Avenue to enjoy a night of astronomy with friends. Little did he know that a casual encounter with local astronomer Robby Tackett would lead him down the path to becoming an international photography sensation.

Peering through Tackett’s telescope, Parker snapped a photo of the stars using his iPhone. It was then that Tackett introduced Parker to astrophotography.

“(Tackett) told me that I could take pictures with a DSLR through the telescope,” said Parker, a fan of astronomy. “Up until that day, I didn’t know it was possible.” 

It wasn't long after that night when Parker picked up his first DSLR camera and hasn't looked back. He quickly gained tremendous success as a nightscape photographer, photographing stars, night skies and the visible branch of our Milky Way galaxy.

“I picked it up as a hobby and now my hobby is my passion and my career,” Parker said.

In 2016, Parker traveled to Iceland several times to create content for LG Electronics, one of the largest and leading electronics companies in the world. LG hired Parker to produce time lapses of everything from sunsets to the iconic Northern Lights — all of which would be used to promote the electronics giant’s brand new television sets, he said.

Parker, who hosted a night photography workshop in Iceland, recalled having a student who was returning to Poland show him a photo of one of his images that was featured on a large LG Electronics promotional poster at the airport.

But 2016 was a bittersweet year for Parker. His mom, Leticia "Tish" Parker, died suddenly in December.

Sean Parker with his mom at the Fourth Avenue Street Fair in Tucson, Arizona.“It always made me happy to make her happy,” Parker said. “It wasn’t until she left us that I realized she was my inspiration— She was my biggest inspiration to be creative.”

In the short six years since picking up photography, Parker’s work has also been featured at the Smithsonian Museum in British Columbia, on the pages of The New York Times, BBC, Discovery and he has even been commissioned by a Hollywood movie studio for a time lapse of “the stars moving across the desert sky,” he said. (See below for a link to the Rated-R trailer)    

These days, Parker tries to stay on top of his photography and his popularity.

“When I wake up, it’s responding to emails, social media — doing the business end of things,” Parker said. “I find myself staying up until 2 or 3 a.m., editing.”

But Parker’s stellar adventures are far from over.

“I want to go everywhere,” he said. “I want to travel more. I want to be on a production like (BBC’s) Planet Earth and portray the beauty of the world that is not shown often.”

Recently, some of Parker's video timelapse work of the desert skies was featured in the new trailer for "The Bad Batch", an upcoming feature film from Annapurna Pictures, starring Jim Carrey, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves and Suki Waterhouse, among others. Find out more about the movie on IMDB and watch the Rated-R Trailer.

For more information on Sean Parker, his photography and his workshops visit his website, www.Sean-Parker.com. Follow him on Instagram @SeanParkerPhotography, his new Instagram hub for desert starscapes @DesertStarscapes, or on Facebook.

Sign up now for his night-photography workshops: Find openings here!

 

Panoramic photo of the Stars over Picacho Peak.

A 14-photo panorama at Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona.

Aurora Borealis over Iceland. Parker photographed the Northern Lights in 2016.

The Aurora Borealis photographed in Iceland while on the job for LG Electronics. 

Edition: 
Phoenix
Tucson
Issue: 
April 2017