Conor Harrigan: Growing as a Photographer

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All images by Conor Harrigan. Used with permission.

If you’re not familiar with the portraiture of Conor Harrigan, then you should really take the time to get to know his work. We listed him as one of our most inspirational photographers this year, and his work continues to just get better. We interviewed him a while back, and were initially drawn to him for his incredible sense of composition when it comes to portraiture.

Conor continues to reside in NYC, and also continues to hone his craft; but it’s evolved quite a bit since the last time we met. So we wanted to chat with Conor about how he’s grown and the steps he’s taken.

Phoblographer: In the past year, what important changes do you feel you’ve made to your photography in a creative sense?

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Conor: I have learned a lot about retouching, and a lot about composition. One day, I felt that my portrait work was horrible. I hated it. I realized how “unfinished” a lot of it looked, so I made it a point to sit down and begin learning retouching. I’m far from finished, but I feel much more confident in my portrait images. Exposure was also another big thing I learned.

I realized how unbalanced my high tones were. So, in the last year, I have definitely worked on balancing tone, and not overexposing. Composition was another big one. I learned a lot about that when I began doing architecture work in the Hamptons this year.

Phoblographer: We know that you love shooting portraits and you’ve gotten into celebrity work. What made you want to do this?

Conor: I kind of just fell into it. I shot a private event for celebrity chef Scott Conant of Food Network, and I enjoyed the whole thing. Prior to the event, I saw an Infinity commercial featuring him, and I had a lump in my throat. Nauseously nervous the whole ride to SoHo, once I got there, it became clear that Scott was such a nice guy, and I felt relaxed. It was just another event, but..for a celebrity chef. This month, I had the pleasure of shooting a wedding for supermodel Hilary Rhoda. She was wonderful to work with, and I hope to expand more into celebrity weddings.

“I began to pay attention, and I realized that all of these “Instafamous” photographers who vomit out nothing but Tits’n’Ass weren’t actually working with big clients.”

Phoblographer: Networking is tough for many photographers, but how did you go about getting to be better known and securing more work for yourself?

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Conor: The biggest change I made was I stopped giving a shit about followers. In the past, I had stressed myself out; that I didn’t have enough followers, blah blah blah. One day, I was researching photography representation agencies, and I found that many of their photographers, who did amazing work with huge clients, didn’t have much of a social media presence at all.

I began to pay attention, and I realized that all of these “Instafamous” photographers who vomit out nothing but Tits’n’Ass weren’t actually working with big clients. Yes, they were always shooting, but were they always working? This was a turning point for me. I stopped caring about how many followers I had, and I realized it was WHO I followed. I did my homework. If I find a company I want to work for, I get my Google on.

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Phoblographer: Where do you tend to find your inspiration from these days?

Conor: Erik Almas, for sure. We shoot totally different things. I would like to do commercial work, but I don’t do much now. I think I find inspiration from him from a business point of view. I just find him to be motivational. Kristy Mitchell, the famous photographer behind the “Wonderland” series, is another person I get motivation from. My style is different from hers. My ethos is different. We shoot nothing alike. However, I find her inspiring, in the way she has built many of her own props and sets during her projects. It’s incredible. I find a lot of inspiration from Pratik Naik. He’s a well-known retoucher. He is very calm, calculating, and deliberate. I appreciate these things as I have learned retouching.

Phoblographer: Considering yourself as a photographer right now, where do you want to be a year from now and how do you plan on getting there?

Conor: I have a few plans, and an idea I don’t want to divulge just yet. However, I do want to expand my celebrity event work even further. I’d like to begin shooting more food and drink. I have just started architectural work, and I truly want to expand that quite a bit. I love that stuff. I can be alone, music on, and just shoot.

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