Nigel Parry, Award-winning Photographer Talks About His Photography Career, Dignity in Media, and Giving Back, Episode 31

Meet Nigel Parry. He is an award-winning photographer who has been privileged to photograph not only celebrities but also the most important and influential figures of our time, like Donald Trump, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Barack Obama, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Nigel Parry began his photographic career in London in 1988 and moved to New York City in 1994. Since then, he has been commissioned by the most distinguished publications, advertising agencies, entertainment, corporate and music companies worldwide. And here’s a fun fact: the logo for my podcast, the image of me on the sofa, is a Nigel Parry. This week, I am honored and excited to share with you my conversation with Nigel.

Everyone has a pivotal moment in their journey that sets them on a path to greatness.  In this episode, Nigel shares the gutsy moment that set him on the course to become a photographer. He also shares his commitment to his craft and how he believes maintaining integrity throughout his work no matter who he is photographing. Nigel also talks about his work with Operation Smile and the importance of giving back to the community. The question I would love for you to ponder as you listen to Nigel share his story and insights is this: Are there opportunities in your life and your career where you can begin to bring your talent and your boldness to help the world around you? 

Here is more about Nigel: His accolades include, The European Magazine Award, The Award of Excellence from the U.S. Society of Newspaper Design, The American Society of Magazine Editors Portrait Award, Hasselblad Master Photographer, Communication Arts, ASME, Graphis, Photo District News, Art Directors Club, International Photography and American Photography Awards among others.

His work has been exhibited worldwide at various art galleries, museums and festivals including; The National Portrait Gallery in London, The National Galleries of Scotland, a show at The National Museum of Film & Photography, Le Festival Pour l’image Perpignan, and the Premier exhibit at the NY Photo Festival. He has also had the pristine honor of being the first portrait photographer to be invited to exhibit his work at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Nigel has been involved in several global children’s charities including the Starlight Foundation and Operation Smile. He has donated his time attending several missions on behalf of Operation Smile photographing children in the far remotes of China, Brazil, and India. His powerful photographs help to create further awareness of the charity. In 2010, Operation Smile honored him with the Universal Smile Award for his photographic and charitable contributions.

His first book Sharp was published in December 2000 and is considered to be one of the most exceptional celebrity portrait books. His second book Precious was published in the fall of 2004. His third book BLUNT was published in the fall of 2006 with multiple exhibitions following the release in New York City. In 2007 his fourth book A Journey of Smiles was published on behalf of Operation Smile to benefit the charity with an exhibition following its release in New York. All books have received worldwide critical acclaim.

Tune in to hear Nigel’s thoughts pertaining to:

  • How he got started with photography, his career taking photographs of infamous people, and his opinion of Donald Trump. (6:21)
  • What happens if a sitter is not happy with the results of the photograph. (8:18)
  • Nigel’s mantra, “Integrity should always be intact.” (10:28)
  • The use of props when photographing comedians and how comedians can be difficult to photograph. Plus, Nigel talks about photographing Conan O’Brien – visit Nigel’s website to see some of the photos mentioned during our conversation! (11:16)
  • He talks about pairing the portraits of Monica Lewinski and Hillary Clinton on his Instagram account. (15:00)
  • One move Nigel made that was gutsy. He shares how he got his start in photography and who helped him make his gutsy move. (18:00)
  • The importance of fulfilling your responsibilities and then exploring your wild ideas. (23:00)
  • Nigel describes his specific photograph style. Refer to the resources below to see a screenshot of his description. (25:00)
  • He then takes us around his home office (this was unplanned) and showcases some of his work. Check out the video clip below to take the virtual tour! (27:00)
  • You learn how to read people and make connections quickly. (33:03)
  • Nigel explains why when he is taking a photograph, there is nothing else more important. (34:25)
  • His experience with photographing Luciano Pavarotti and Barack Obama. (35:19)
  • Operation Smile, the effects on the children, and when Nigel realized he’d love to give back. (40:00)

We ended our conversation with this BIG question: Is there room for more dignity in today’s media and our consumption of it?  

Links to quench your curiosity:

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Nigel describes his photography style – shown below as close up and tight.

Nigel Parry gives an impromptu tour of his home office and his work.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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