For this edition the wonderful photographer Patrick
kindly accepted to be with us.I bet when you visit his gallery after reading this article you will feel at home.
-Tell us a little about yourself. -I was born and raised in the French part of Switzerland and left at the age of 18. I moved to London where I learned English and stayed for six months. After that, I moved to San Diego, California. After struggling with various illegal jobs at $5/hr (dishwasher, construction, gardening) I decided to go to college here in the US. To make a long story short, I ended getting my PhD in Psychology and spent over ten year in academia as a professor during which I taught and conducted researched and published in the area of color vision and visual attention. More recently, I have had a bit of a mid-life crisis, left academia (big relief) and trained in conflict resolution. Today, I co-own a small family center in which I help people through life transitions (e.g., divorce). I also am trying to be a part-time photographer. One thing I learned about myself, a bit late in life perhaps, is that I am unhappy doing just one thing and enjoy life much more when I am involved in many different professional (and social) endeavors.-How did your relationship with Photography begin and how has it developed through the years?-My dad used to own a small optometry shop in my hometown back in Switzerland and he used to sell photography equipment. Naturally, I borrowed some of his cameras but never seemed to be able to get my hands on his Leicas, Minoxes, or Canons. ☺ I remember shooting primarily with a Ricoh 35mm, maybe a XR10? I also built a dark room in the basement of my dad’s shop and spent quite a bit of time down there! After I left Switzerland, I must say I didn’t really shoot since I was a poor college student and digital wasn’t there yet for me, at least not at an affordable price point. More recently, after playing with various point-and-shoot cameras, I finally bought a modern DSLR, which took me quite a bit of time to learn to use. After reading the manual many times and reading countless online guides and tutorials, I finally had mastered the DSLR but came to the conclusion that I was having no fun photographing with it. While reading all that online literature, I was once again exposed to photography, photography equipment, and photographers. One aspect of photography that inspired me in a mysterious way was Street Photography. I particularly remember being in awe of Bruce Gilden’s photographs. I frantically search the web for any article I could find and pretty much read everything I could. I also realized quickly that it wasn’t enough to just get in people’s faces and snap random shots. Yes, Street Photography is an art, which can be executed well, or not so well…My primary long-term goal is to learn and improve as much as I can as a street photographer.-What does Photography offer you? -When I am in the street, when light is good, when my mind is focused, shooting people is simply an amazing feeling! It’s like being in the zone, the camera becomes an extension of my visual system and I can see the shots before they happen. As many Street Photographers have mentioned before, shooting in the street is a pretty lonely and selfish activity. It a bit of a paradox really as you are surrounded by people walking by just inches away yet the interaction with these people is non-verbal (for the most part) and very brief. I find that invigorating and intriguing. I have tried to shoot with company, my wife, my father, my sons, but it is quite complicated to explain why all of the sudden, for no apparent reason, I feel the urge to walk briskly up five blocks to then remain at a street corner watching people for 15 minutes. That’s one of the reasons why street photography is a lonely activity.-Which photographers influenced you? -Of course all of the classic great photographers that you all know but also some lesser known ones such as Lisa Hostetler, Saul Leiter, Robert Frank, Helen Hewitt, Martin Parr. But I would like to highlight contemporary photographers, which I think produce amazing work today. As mentioned Bruce Golden is an early influence of mine but lesser know photographers who I find extremely exciting to watch as they grow and mature are, not in any particular order: Maciej Dakowicz, Matt Stuart, Andrew Glickman, Sagi Kortler dA, Mary Cimetta dA, and many more, right here on dA!)My two most influential contemporary photographers are Alex Webb and Markus Hartel. Webb is the master of composition in my eyes. His keen ability to construct and build layers of information in depth in his shots is just brilliant. He also has mastered color. One particular photo of his that haunts me is his San Ysidro 1979 shot of illegal immigrants getting busted as they were attempting to cross the border. The light, composition, everything is just perfect, so perfect that it seems the photo was planned, which of course, it wasn’t.Markus Hartel is a personal friend of mine and is a gifted and way under rated photographer, in my opinion. His photos are so artistic. He’s also a master of composition and light and he’s able to capture people in an honest yet gentle and caring way, something that I could certainly improve on. He’s also a great teacher form whom I have learned a lot and continue to learn from.-What do you enjoy photographing most? -Street, street, street, although I would love to get into photojournalism but haven’t really spent much time thinking about how to do that. My trip to West Africa was a sort of a photojournalistic attempt, I guess.-What equipment do you use? -My primary go-to camera is the Fuji X100. I just love that camera although I must say that I have had a monogamous relationship with it so I can’t really compare. I would love to shoot a Leica M9 as I just love some of the results I see (although these impressive images are probably more a function of the talent of the photographer than the camera). I also own a Nikon D7000, which gets the job done but is a bore to use (for me). The quality of the images coming out of my point and shoot Canon s95 amazes me every time I use it.-What is your favorite time of the day photographing in the streets? -Early morning, late afternoon, early evening, the Golden hour: softer light, longer shadows.-Choose three photos you have taken and explain why they are special to you?
The Look This one I took while walking in Manhattan with Markus Hartel. It was in late September I think, around 6 pm and there was a lot going with light: Sun low in the sky and lots of reflection going on off glass buildings. We were chatting waiting for the light to turn green when I noticed this very tall skinny woman on her cell phone on the other side of the street. To get there before the other pedestrians, I literally just ran as soon as the light turned green and fell to my knees to snap that shot. You can tell she’s wondering what the hell was going on but the shot worked out perfectly! The next day, I saw her again in a completely different part of Manhattan and we chatted. I happened to have my laptop wit me and showed her the picture, which she liked. It turns out she is a successful model and her name is Magdalena Fiolka.
No-GoThis shot was taken in Crash Boat Beach, Puerto Rico during a recent trip. Don’t know if it really belongs to the street category but I really like that photo. Composition, light (a nasty storm ensued short after I took that the photo), and perspective. I also light the ambiguity. These people really were trying to get across the yellow barrier knowing it was (almost) possible. I actually “saw” that shot from about 200 meters away and walked towards my final position briskly, leaving my wife behind wondering what the hell was happening to me. It will get old and I will move on but right now, that photo is special to me. Atakmpame Kids In early 2013, I took a one-month trip to Ghana and Togo. That was part of my mid-life crisis and needed to reset things in my mind and I certainly accomplished this. I saw some truly difficult things to witness, including utter poverty, malnutrition, illness (a boy suffering from malaria in his small hut on the coast of Togo). Again, this photo probably does not technically belong to the street category but it is so emotionally moving to me, I had to include it to my list of three.-Imagine you have a day-off and you decide to go shooting. Describe it.-Only one day?? Well, it would have to be in Manhattan. I would wake up early and probably head to 7th or 8th Ave around 34th Street. That area of Manhattan is always busy with people coming and going. I would then probably head south on 7th or 8th Avenue and hit Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. Another favorite area of mine is Lower Broadway, specifically on Broadway between Houston and Chambers. I would probably also try to get to Harlem. Completely different atmosphere and well worth a visit. Then again, I’ve been known to wander so that plan would probably not happen. There are still so many area of Manhattan I don’t know!-What is your style and what tricks do you use in order to 'steal' a photo of strangers in strange situation?-Well, this is difficult for me to say exactly but if I listen to my friends and my comrades here on dA, I guess confrontational is what they say. I strongly dislike confrontation and in fact try to solve it for a living, so I really hate that label. Perhaps I would describe my approach as opportunistic?Stealth is key. I try to blend in with the crowd (both with how I move and how I look, I carry a small camera, I don’t wear my camera around my neck and wear a wrist strap instead. I either approach my subject by going with the flow of a crowd or wait for my subject to come to me. A camera with a viewfinder is a most for me and practice practice practice… -One (or two) place(s) you always want to visit for Photography?I would love to visit Istanbul, Cuba, Dubai intrigues me, and big cities in Asia (Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo). I would also love to go shoot bigger cities in central and South America… Well, that’s more than one or two places I guess.-Any final thoughts for our readers?Yes, there is one aspect of photography that has troubled me most recently which is the huge gender imbalance in the industry. I read a research summary conducted by InfoTrends looking at the field of professional photography. Forget about what cameras the pros use, look at the gender gap! 67% of surveyed professionals were male while only 33% were female! Even more shocking, according to the report, the annual revenue for a pro MALE photographer was $154,500 while it was only $48,100 for FEMALES…. I want to encourage women of all ages to become more active and aggressive in this industry. These figures are actually quite embarrassing…Last, I want to thank the wonderful community of dA, especially the group administrators and users who spend the time to look and provide feedback. I have learned a lot by just hanging out on dA!
Journal made by
on behalf of the