Timmy Trumpet's SINPHONY Radio
Dec 02, 2021

Beyond The Lens: Eric Cunningham

Today, we’re honored to have Eric Cunningham join us in the debut feature in our new Beyond The Lens series. If you’re following the 1001Tracklists Instagram channel, then you’re sure to already be familiar with today’s guest as the NYC based photographer has been on a rocket to the top since shooting his first show with Armin van Buuren. With the return of live shows in the US this year, he’s been working nearly daily to bring photos and videos from the biggest and best shows in the city that never sleeps. Read on to get to know more about Eric, his journey to earn his residency at the world renowned Brooklyn Mirage, favorite artists to shoot, and much more! 
Eric, thanks so much for joining us. It’s been awesome getting to know you and your work over the past year, and we’re looking forward to sharing your story. Take us back a bit and tell us about your initial start in photography.
My initial start in photography came from my older brother taking me to car shows with his camera and him letting me try it out. I would take my dad's old camera back then and mess around a bit. The first day I picked up a camera was March 31st, 2016 and I fell in love with being able to control what a picture looks like in so many ways. I loved being in control and that is the beauty of photography. Being able to control what your pictures look like. 
How did you then get involved in the world of shooting electronic music artists?
I got in touch with the guys from MadeEvent (producers of Electric Zoo Music Festival) via Instagram. I was a crazy urbex explorer hanging off of rooftops and the guys there loved my work. I wanted to explore new types of photography for fun instead of just shooting cars and urbex photos all the time. Joey Sutera and Dmitry Petrov were two guys I can never thank enough for leading me in the right direction and wanting me to succeed in the music industry. I owe it all to them for where I am today. I was 19 at the time when I started taking photos at concerts/live shows. At the time, I didn't even realize I was the youngest person in the venue at times and being able to shoot some of the biggest artists in the EDM scene was nothing but a thrilling moment for me. It went from Armin van Buuren being my first artist, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Steve Aoki, Hardwell, and so on and so forth. Being able to work with some of the biggest artists in the world right away was one thing I will never take for granted. 
As you’ve shot artists in the electronic music space, how has your love and passion for electronic music developed? Who are some of your favorite artists andgenres to listen to?
Some of my favorite artists include Charlotte De Whitte, Carl Cox, Chris Lake, Vintage Culture, and Nora En Pure. There are so many other artists I can list, but I truly fell in love with techno and house music. Every weekend I want to be in a music venue and I crave to feel those live moments of the crowd making noise when they hear an insane drop from a song. I crave listening to music every single weekend. It is kind of like an addiction at this point where all I want to be doing is taking photos and just living in the moment. Music is such a massive part of my life now that it truly made me such a happier person.
Can you compare and contrast shooting for electronic music events vs. other types of music? What about other live events you’ve shot? What makes the electronic music crowds and venues unique to you?
So I have shot rap and hip hop artists in the past such as J. Cole and Future. Shooting something like that just goes so quickly as they tend to perform for less than 30 minutes usually whereas electronic artists tend to perform for an average of 1 hour and 30 minutes. The crowds are so different too, but not in a bad way. There is more hype to the rap and hip hop artist crowds. Sometimes it can get rowdy, but that is just the fans living their best life. I have done corporate events in the past, but I mainly try to stay in the EDM scene really. I have been starting to deny work that is not related to anything music related because it just is not enjoyable for me at times. I’d rather be shooting something that I always enjoy or else you will at some point get bored of taking photos. I am thankful that has yet to happen to me.
What are some of the biggest challenges a photographer shooting an electronic show faces?
There are many that an everyday fan wouldn’t even think of! Getting through the crowds. That's all I have to say haha. I love being in the middle of the crowds and getting crowd POV shots. At times it can be very, very packed to where you are stepping on people's shoes and pushing and shoving, but when people usually see me with a camera, about 99.9% of the time they understand and try their best to move a bit so I can pass them.
Shooting openers is also very difficult as it tends to be dark as they save the main lighting effects for the headlining artists. Also avoiding lasers from hitting your camera is another big thing. If a laser hits your camera dead on, it will rip your sensor apart. I have had this happen so many times at this point on stupid mistakes that can either be caused by the production side having a malfunctioning equipment or just me not paying attention. 
Can you highlight three of your favorite artists, events, or venues you’ve ever shot? What makes them each special?
Three of my favorite artists I have ever shot are Hardwell, Carl Cox, and Illenium. All three have so much energy and truly love all their crowds. Three venues that I love to work at have to be Brooklyn Mirage/Avant Gardner, Marquee, and the New York Expo Center. 
You’re based in New York City and at times are doing runs where you’re shooting late night events on runs of 10+ nights in a row. Where do you find the energy?! How do you stay present in the moment with so much going on?
That is one thing that I did struggle with. Working on getting into a good sleeping schedule and trying to find more energy. One thing about me is that I am sober, I do not drink so that is one thing that does help. Yeah a red bull or two can do something, but of course those are not the best for you. I am fortunate enough to have a car and usually tend to drive to every venue that I do work at so blasting music and keeping the windows down even when it is cold does help me stay awake until I get home. I will usually tend to sleep during the day and just work at night. I’ve been doing this since May of 2018 professionally, you just get into a groove and just get used to it. The life grows on you and I love it. 
Tell us some more about your current residencies photo wise?
Currently I am working mainly at Brooklyn Mirage/Avant Gardner or at Lavo in Manhattan. I have started to work at two new clubs in Manhattan as well. Harbor NYC and Somewhere Nowhere, both of which are run by amazing people. Tao Group treats me great and I love working with them. Otherwise I am all over the place working at many other venues at random times or hired by artists themselves. 
Looking ahead, how are you staying inspired, motivated and creative in the short term?
I love looking at other successful content creators, it makes me push myself to do even better. I have started to do a lot more videos and it has been so much fun filming shows as it is a different experience than just taking photos. I have been lucky enough to film Skrillex, Jamie Jones, deadmau5, and many other artists in the past couple of months since I started videography.
In the long run, what are a few goals that you have for yourself professionally in the world of photography x electronic music?
Really just to keep taking photos and videos and not stop. I would love to get into social media management and a bit of the marketing side at some point as it can be fun. I would love to get into tour management as well as I have been testing some things out with some artists which I cannot yet say. For now and for my future, life is looking great, I cannot be happier where I am at the moment and for all the friends I have made along the way.

Stay up to date with all of Eric's latest happenings on his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericm_nyc/
Connect with Eric Cunningham: Website | Facebook | Instagram
short link 1001.tl/l81v7l
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