Florida-based photographer Sean Murphy has photographed Christina Aguilera, Linkin Park, and many other musicians, but his relationship with alternative rock band Weezer spans most of his photography career. Sean has been working with the band for 20 years and recently shot the artwork for their new album.
Van Weezer, Weezer’s fifteenth studio album, dropped in May of this year, and Sean photographed all the artwork for the release. As the name implies, Van Weezer is a riff on Van Halen. The album, with decidedly more guitar riffs than usual, is a tribute to Eddie Van Halen and the iconic hair metal bands of the ’80s.
I shot the albums Maladroit, Make Believe, Raditude, The Red Album, The White Album, The Teal Album, and Van Weezer, in addition to many magazine spreads. We have become good friends over the years, and I think the band likes how I work.
They first met while he was on assignment for Alternative Press. The magazine requested he shoot the band with the theme of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” so he thought it would be funny to make a cardboard UFO and dress them up in tinfoil clothes.
We just clicked. I think that they were drawn to my personality and creative style. They requested me on shoots from then on out.
The images were primarily shot in a studio in downtown Los Angeles, as is typical for most of their albums. Sean and the band have been working together for so long that the team knows the drill by now, and on the day of the shoot, it all runs smoothly. Their biggest challenge was coordinating with their tour manager to get all their gear brought to the studio and set up.
We all met at the studio and looked through the racks of clothing, set up the lighting and the band’s equipment, and got to it. The whole shoot was done in about six hours, start-to-finish.
When we get together, it is usually a kind of reunion. The producer is used to how I work, and I use the same assistants. I feel like these go very smoothly.
When Sean wrapped up the shoot on this project, the COVID-19 shutdowns began causing the album release to be put on hold. Eventually, Crush Music and Atlantic Records decided to postpone the release until 2021 — a decision that ultimately ensured the album’s success.
We shot this a year ago, and then they sat on it until the time was right. The album just hit #1 on the Billboard chart. I am impatient, and this goes to show that timing is everything.