It’s no secret that the world is an incredible place. Every person, every place, and every thing has a story. My job is to create images that tell those stories.
Growing up I never would have thought I would find myself working in the artistic industry. Don’t get me wrong, I always had an artistic side, but I locked it away. Every major influence on my life pushed me toward engineering from a very young age, so I just went along with it. I hid my passions from even myself. I tried desperately to convince myself that I enjoyed engineering, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy certain parts. It wasn’t me though, and the older I got the clearer that became.
Late on in high school, I finally started experimenting with who I was and how I express myself. While there were definitely some regrettable choices made during that time (particularly in the hair department), what I came to realize was that I really loved expressing myself, and creating art. I found myself going to college for Audio and Music production, but that wasn’t the right fit for me. So I spent my second semester trying out several different options. I even gave engineering another try, but the class that I loved more than any other was photography. Learning to tell a story through an image was the turning point. That summer I took my first video class, and from there I was hooked on visual story telling and working with cameras. Two years later I would graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Video and Film production.
Immediately out of school, however, I did not find myself working in Video and Film. Instead, I accidentally found myself working in stage lighting. Now, you might ask, “how does one find themselves accidentally working in anything?” Well, when you’re in film school, you’re told that one of the best ways to network and meet people to break into the industry is working at an equipment rental house. I drove around to every rental house in town dropping off resumes and meeting as many people as I could, and it did pay off. I got a call from Video Equipment Rentals, who hired me after a short interview. Little did I know, Video Equipment Rentals is not in the business of film making equipment. No, instead, they are in the business of stage productions, where LED walls are known as “Video.”
I had told them my specialty was lighting, and being too proud to quit, I pulled on the knowledge of two Lighting Design classes and pure intuition to fake my way through the job until I became properly good at it. I worked in their warehouse for several months preparing shows and tours and QC’ing lights. During this time I barely picked up my camera, but the longer I went the stronger the itch to get back into it became. My time in the shop came to an end when I was asked to go on tour as a lighting technician for a country artist. Over an 8 month journey, we saw the 48 contiguous states and Canada. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and it allowed me to take my camera to some absolutely incredible places.
I fell back in love with photography while on tour, and when it was over I decided to start my own business doing it. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been what I love. In the long run I think that’s more important.
Thanks for reading,
Michael J Patton