When passion meets pictureBY AMY CODISPOTI | JOURNAL REPORTER It’s not everyday that someone’s talent and passion leads them to their dream job.
But, for some people, like photographer Benjamin James Anyan, dreams and reality merge in a labyrinth of events, creating a life of unexpected surprises.
Since a young age Anyan, 28, and a LSHS graduate, has been taking pictures. Intrigued by life’s fleeting moments forever frozen in time by a photograph, he sees pictures as a window through which to view unique moments that hold emotion, profound meaning or moving memory.
As a child, he’d regularly sneak his parents’ camera in an attempt to create a masterpiece that would illicit some sort of emotional response.
“But, alas, the only emotion I would ever get would be my mom and dad’s frustration when they went to develop their film and it would have a bunch of photos on it they didn’t recognize,” he joked.
As he grew older, his fascination with the lens matured with him.
He began observing the art form as a power medium to unite people on a poignant internal journey.
“Photography has a profound effect on our entire world,” he said. “Photos are everywhere. Everyone has photos in their home, in their car, on their phones, at their work, and they all evoke a strong emotional response. I’ve always felt that people that hold and control … cameras have so much influence in the way our world is seen.”
In high school, he gave his passion its first official outlet when he worked on the annual staff in high school for a year.
The experience forever shaped him, and he spent the next several years working as a wedding and portrait photographer all across the Northwest. After moving to Southern California and living there for a while, he’d determined he was ready for college and he had no doubt that commercial photography was what he wanted to study.
“I was living in Los Angeles and I searched the entire west coast for the best and most cost effective program,” Anyan said. “It just so happened that at Seattle Central Community College there was one of the top three Commercial Photography programs in the country.”
After graduating from Seattle Central Community College in 2005, Anyan moved back to Los Angeles where he set out on a quest to market himself as a photographer.
“As far as making a name for myself, I still feel like I am still doing that,” he said. “It’s a constant uphill battle and I am constantly chasing the next big and cool assignment.”
A year into living in the city, he got his first big break when flying back to California after visiting Seattle.
On the plane, he met a man from LA whose wife had a children’s clothing line. Anyan told the man about his photography work, and showed him some recent pictures of his work featuring children. The man was impressed, and Anyan was hired a week later to do some photography for the business.
Anyan was surprised to learn that Martin Sheen was the main investor for the children’s clothing line. The couple assured Anyan that if he worked with them, he’d more than likely get the chance to work with Sheen, too.
“Sure enough, a few months later I am shooting Martin at a Four Seasons in Agoura Hills and before you know it the photos make it on the cover of Baby Couture Magazine and the television show, Extra,” he said.
Soon after the magazine ran the photos of Sheen, they contacted Anyan for another assignment.
“Baby Couture called me back to shoot Tony Hawk for their summer issue,” he said. “It was a little crazy! I mean, he is the major player in the skateboarding world.”
Despite working in LA and working with celebrities, Anyan isn’t star-crazed.
“After living in LA for a while, you come to realize that famous people are just that people,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard and been really lucky, but I’ve never really been too star struck by them. I guess that helps me in my job when I do get to work with them.”
Aside from shooting stars, Anyan still keeps himself busy doing photo shoots at weddings, events and for families. He’s looking forward to visiting Lake Stevens this summer, to reconnect with his family and friends and perhaps take a picture or two.
While he’s thoroughly enjoying his current work, Anyan’s long-term career goals are to take his photography skills and make a lasting impact on some aspect of our suffering world.
“My long-term goals for my career are predominantly based in philanthropy. I would love to keep shooting celebs for advertising and editorial clients, but those things are not reality and they surely are not going to help our world today.
There are so many things happening on this planet that are absolutely terrifying,” Anyan said, referring to starving families worldwide, wars, and global warming.
“I plan to devote a lot of my time to helping these causes. The amount of causes there are is great, but the amount of good that people can do is overwhelming. When people unite to create positive change, no accomplishments are too large or too small.”