Candid Photographer Interview: Rick Patterson Of Canyon Country, CA
Candid artist interview with photographer Rick Patterson of Canyon Country (just outside Los Angeles).
This is an interesting Q&A with some not so usual answers and approach.
Q: Your name please
A: My name is Rick Patterson, but you can call me anything but collect.
Q: How would you describe your attention span?
A: When something has my attention it will last as long as the universe is wide. But fail to catch me and it’s about as long as my first name.
Q: Do you like to talk about yourself or your pictures? If yes, about what aspects of photography? If no, why?
A: Actually neither, but I don’t mind going into detail when asked. I think who I am is pretty self explanatory: What you see is what you get. When it comes to my photography I see it as any art form. Go to a gallery and listen to the viewers comments. They get their own impressions based on their own views. Why spoil a good thing?
Q: When did you decide to become a photographer?
A: I think I really decided to become a photographer when I was in the Navy. Before that I was just the typical snap-shooter. There was so much to see and record.
Q: What does photography mean to you?
A: Photography is a form of personal expression and a way of directing the viewer to see what you saw.
Q: Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?
A: That first WOW photo would have to be of a gold Buddha taken in a temple in Thailand. It was taken using natural light that was very directional, so the detail was extraordinary.
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: I went to what I like to call the School of Hard Knocks. My training started with film and anticipation at the local drug store counter along with notes on exposure settings. What I know I picked up by reading
Popular Photography and trying the tricks they gave, sometimes without a clue!
Q: How technical is your photography?
A: Over time I’ve learned what setting works best for a given situation, so I’m more intuitive then technical.
Q: How do you feel about cropping?
A: Cropping is good for fine tuning an image when necessary, but I much prefer doing all the major work in the viewfinder.
Q: Where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the World and why?
A: I would have to say the third planet from the sun is the best place to be a photographer. The color, and inhabitants are spectacular. But I have heard the view from the moon can be exciting too!
Q: Define the word “beauty”!
A: Beauty is something that goes far deeper than smooth skin. It’s in the eyes and smile of the subject. Get the shot with the models eyes smiling and you can’t miss.
Q: What is your most favorite and least favorite word in photography or life? How do they make you feel?
A: I would have to say my most favorite word is praise. I’m often uncomfortable when it’s given to me, but I like to use it when dealing with others.
Q: How does your personality change when you look through the camera?
A: Wow. Introspective time. When I get behind the camera time no longer exists. The only outside thing I’m truly aware of is changes in lighting and when the model starts to get tired.
Q: How do you feel about missed shots which cannot be recreated?
A: Missed shots are devastating, but that’s part of the reason I tend to “overshoot” so missed shots don’t happen.
Q: Ever concerned about failure?
A: Who isn’t? But if you never failed, you wouldn’t learn or grow. I certainly trashed many rolls of film in my day, but I learned a lot from it.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: Ansel Adams, Edward and Kim Weston to name a few. I took a studio nude workshop given by Kim Weston. He’s an artist with a rosewood box camera.
Q: What is your favorite image, either your own or someone else’s or both? Describe its creation or meaning to you?
A: My favorite image would be the Buddha I talked about earlier. (since you asked) It was taken with a manual 35mm Yashika, hand held. I knew it was going to be a great shot when I had it in my viewfinder, and I might never have that chance again. I’ve certainly seen a lot of work that I have admired, so it’s hard to name one individual like Anne Geddes.
Q: What has been the single biggest obstacle against growing as a photographer in whole?
A: I would have to say that would be learning how to effectively market myself.
Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: I like working with people most. I like the interaction.
Q: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photo shoot!
A: I think one of my most touching sessions was when I worked with a new model. I got some great shots of her and one of them wound up on the wall in a recording studio in San Jose. She happened by and when she saw her photo on the wall she cried. I later found out that she was sick the night of the shoot and was not feeling 100%, but I still managed to capture beautifully. Her agent was nearly as pleased.
Q: Have you ever thought about or actually stopped doing photography? What were the circumstances?
A: Never. I’ll consider stopping when I can no longer lift the camera case. Wait. It has wheels.
Q: Do you ever have photographer’s block and if yes how do you deal with it?
A: I think the closest I’ve ever come to photographers block was while I was en route to the shoot. But one I started to set up my gear it all came together.
Q: What types of assignments are you attracted most?
A: Challenges. I like a shoot where I have to do something different whether that be lighting or the message I’m trying to convey.
Q: Describe what black and white photography means to you?
A: Black and white leaves more to the imagination. Color provides everything you need. But with B&W you had to add a little of yourself when viewing it.
Q: Do you think of yourself as an artist and what do you think of the word artist?
A: I guess I am an artist. An artist is someone who sees the world in their chosen medium. Even without a camera I see the everything around me as if there was a viewfinder in front of me.
Q: How do you describe your photographic style?
A: Free? Freestyle, get it? Ok, usually I develop what I’m looking for as I go, unless of course the client has an objective in mind.
Q: Tell a little secret about yourself that no-one knows …
A: The only secrets I have are those that belong to questions unasked.
Q: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
A: It’s an odd cross between the SI Swimsuit edition and Jack Nicholson. I love his expressions and I think he’s one hell of a great lunatic.
Q: What would you have done differently during your photography career so far and could this be an advice to others?
A: Start sooner. Don’t ever put your dreams on hold.
Q: What are your thoughts on the paparazzi and their effects on photographers and photography?
A: I think the whole idea behind the paparazzi is wrong. Whether you’re a celebrity, or a common Joe on the street you have or should have a right to go about your life outside your “job.”
Q: How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
A: Manipulation is a tool, like cropping. Depending on what you’re trying to say a little or a lot can go a long way. Look at impressionist painting. It’s not what the painter really had before him, but more what he felt. However, like with anything, manipulating an image can be taking to an extreme.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: Even when the room is dark your dreams are still there. Reach for them.