Sean Prior, CEO of the Irish-owned company Wavebreak Media, well-known to Depositphotos buyers as a Platinum contributor, has kindly agreed to give us a short interview. Crazy shoots and challenges, team and equipment, competitors and stock industry trends – these and other topics coming straight from the source. Please read below.
Depositphotos: Sean, tell us about your team. What background do your employees have?
Sean Prior: All our employees are highly creative and dedicated to producing top-class video and images. They very much share the same vision and work ethic. We have a good mix on our team but the common characteristic is that everyone has real passion for what we do.
Depositphotos: How many people are usually involved in a shoot?
Sean Prior: We could have as many as 40 people on set for a big shoot. This involves lighting, hair and makeup, styling, models, assistants, runners, production management and so on. It might sound a bit over the top, but think of a small Hollywood film and you might not be that far off.
Depositphotos: What was the best and the most exciting project you’ve implemented?
Sean Prior: There have been so many. We have done many crazy and bizarre things, but the most recent was when we rented an entire hospital for a week and spent about 70 hours shooting 40 models. We were allowed to turn on all the machines and even build a pharmacy in the hospital. It was just us and a large hospital with just one caretaker who we gave a bottle of whiskey to on the first day and he was happy to let us run around like kids. There is a very short behind-the-scenes on our blog. You can also see our director of photography in a cage with a cheetah, with just a man with a shovel to protect him. We also have one or two really crazy ones planned in slow motion – so watch this space.
Depositphotos: What equipment do you use for your super slow motion projects?
Sean Prior: We are using the Phantom camera, which is extremely expensive, but worth it for the quality. The entire team here at Wavebreak Media loves the Phantom and has so much fun with the camera. It was an expensive investment, and even if we never recoup our money we will have had a great time!
Depositphotos: Please describe how your team usually prepares for a shoot.
Sean Prior: A large shoot can take about two months to prepare for. We basically cover every detail before we get on the plane. I mean every detail you can image. It is seriously hard work preparing, and definitely not as enjoyable as shooting. It has to be done, though, given the enormous cost of the shoot and the risk involved.
Depositphotos: What was your weirdest shoot location?
Sean Prior: The Hospital, as it was so strange with no patients there and just us doing the operations ourselves.
Group of doctors working in a hospital | Stock Photo © Depositphotos | Wavebreakmedia
Depositphotos: What would you call the main challenge of your work?
Sean Prior: Being in a creative industry is hugely rewarding but it is incredibly hard work. It is so competitive and you have to really give it all. I am lucky that I have a team of people that share a vision and get a great kick out of producing amazing content. The passion drives them on when the days are long and energy is low. We once did 22 shoot days in a row and I think climbing Mount Everest could arguably have been tougher (all credit to those who have done Everest, as it is major achievement). The reward from what we produced in those 22 days was fantastic, though.
Depositphotos: Do you always work with professional models?
Sean Prior: Pretty much always professional models – and very expensive ones – most of the time. At the cost of our productions we need reliable and highly professional models. I think it only makes sense though to do this when you are putting on very large shoots. It isn’t for everyone but it does make sense for us. This again is a case of risk versus reward.
Depositphotos: Let’s talk a bit about your competitors. Who are your favorite stock photographers? What do you like about their work?
Sean Prior: My favorites are very much under the radar and the ones who don’t go around telling people how brilliant they are! That is probably what I admire most about them. They are quite low-key and just have amazing talent but are also very humble. I very much admire this sort of people. There are too many here to list without doing an injustice and leaving out some of them, but I have personally sent many emails just to say hello and let them know that I aspire to be as good as them. At the early stages of our business, we were very much into looking at competitors. You may find this hard to believe, but we do this less and less now as we have grown. We look more at overall trends and how to produce great content in an effective way. We focus more on themes, trending, and producing stuff that is hard to replicate. It’s more creative going this route, and you get a much better kick when you produce content that does really well.
Depositphotos: Can you give us a brief forecast of the main trends in stock photography for the near future? What topics are going to remain or become popular?
Sean Prior: I always wonder if I am qualified to answer these sort of questions! There are far more experienced people who know a lot more than I do on this topic. I do think that sometimes this area is over-complicated through analysis. I can only speak from my own experiences, but I think you need to reinvent what sells well in a new way; fashions, hairstyles, the latest technologies coming out , etc. Tweaking what you are doing can reap greater rewards than trying to find something that in the end you find there isn’t much demand for. Sales of your own photos can tell you more than anything else.
Depositphotos: What do you consider a secret of your success?
Sean Prior: Success is different for everyone and I am not sure what the measure is here. Success for me isn’t really about money, although that is needed to grow our business. Success for me is about other things, which only those close to me may have worked out! (My main motivation in anything that I have done has never been about money. I am happy driving a relatively old car and I don’t have expensive hobbies, so I feel I have enough money). I am not sure if Wavebreak can class themselves as a leader (yet) but we are trying and it does involve taking risks, which you can lose a lot of sleep over. I guess you need to always be looking a minimum of three years ahead, and that is tricky when you have big overheads. We are trying to become a leader but I think we have a fair way to go yet.
Depositphotos: What should one do in order to join your team?
Sean Prior: Send a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org – we are always looking for talent. We don’t mind training people if they have the raw talent and dedication.
Depositphotos: And last, but not least. What do you like about Depositphotos and working with us?
Sean Prior: Great staff and nice royalties at the end of the month.