Big dreams meet big beats for Carson High grad

Carson High School graduate Edgar Sanchez hangs out with Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes. Sanchez is the personal photographter for Williams.

Carson High School graduate Edgar Sanchez hangs out with Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes. Sanchez is the personal photographter for Williams.

If it's receiving heavy rotation on urban radio or MTV, chances are studio kingpins The Neptunes produced the song and manufactured the beats. If it's a picture of The Neptunes working their creative magic in the studio, chances are Carson City's Edgar Sanchez was behind the lens.

His gallery opening on Feb. 11 in London attracted the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Snoop Dogg, actress Sienna Miller and rapper The Game.

Even the prince and princess of Brunei were there.

Harrod's department store owner, Mohammad Al-Fayed, purchased some of Sanchez's pictures for his daughter.

Sanchez, 24, sold the entire collection of first-edition prints in one night. Soon after, Justin Timberlake was calling him up making sure the pictures he had ordered were on the way.

The Los Angeles-born product of Empire Elementary and Carson High schools, Sanchez is the personal photographer for The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams. He says he fell into the job while in film school.

"At the time, I really didn't know a whole lot about hip-hop," admits Sanchez, on the phone from his home in Los Angeles' Miracle Mile district.

"My friend started bringing me around to the studio where Pharrell was working. One time I just asked if it was cool if I take some pictures, and he was into it. Next time I went to the studio, I showed him the shots, and he was like, 'Wow, how would you like to be my personal photographer?'"

"At the time I had no idea what it would really mean in the long run," he says. "But it sounded like a job to me, so I was into it."

From then on, when The Neptunes were in town, they'd give Sanchez a call and ask him to come to the studio and document the process with his camera.

He went with the flow. And then The Neptunes got big. Really big. Everything they touched turned to platinum. Soon, Sanchez was flying around the world with the hit-makers, documenting the creation of a musical supernova.

"They're the Quincy Joneses of our age," he says.

Pharrell, along with his partner Chad Hugo, have worked with the likes of Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Nelly and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, turning out dynamic, diehard tracks for the artists.

It was as though Sanchez had begun taking pictures of the Manhattan Project from the chalkboard stage, and now here he was riding the mushroom cloud.

He found himself prowling around Pharrell's hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., with the star in his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

Sanchez is happy with his success, but already planning his next moves.

"The next route is definitely making music videos," said Sanchez, who's working on a DVD and book with The Neptunes to be released by the end of the year. "Then I'd like to make the segue into movies."

But nurturing his own big dreams has been a way of life for the snapper with Nevada roots.

"I've always dreamed big," he said. "But in a small place like Carson City, a lot of people have the tendency to bring you down."

"People didn't take me seriously," he remembered. "It just made me dream bigger."

Sanchez counts mentor Helmut Newton and high-end stylist David LaChapelle as photographic influences. Movie-wise, he likes directors Oliver Stone and Martin Scorsese.

While he could conceivably name-drop all day, Sanchez would rather talk about a girl named Becca and her battle with cancer.

"I do some stuff for The Make-A-Wish Foundation and met this girl whose dream was to record a song in a real studio," he says. "We had all these big-name people involved donating their time, and it turns out this girl could really sing. The next thing we know, she's opening for Mariah Carey in Santa Barbara."

Becca's cancer is in remission, and she is working on her music career.

For Sanchez, this is what keeps him going, making a wish and letting it dream.

n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at or 881-1215.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment