Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Johnny Patience
Authentic, compassionate, minimalist—that's how we describe the unmistakable film photography of Johnny Patience. The foundation of his art is built through a unique combination of fine art, travel, and street photography. In addition to contributing to several print and online publications, Johnny's imagery has been honored multiple times by the International Photography Awards, and he is currently working on his first book ,"Contrasts", which is set for release in 2017. He is also an active member of the film community, generously sharing his know-how and passion for the medium with others—he even co-hosts NYCWLK and LNDNWLK, non-profit photo walks/social gatherings open to photographers from all levels of experience. Go behind the lens with Johnny today in Richard's Photographer Spotlight!
Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?
Johnny Patience: Photography started as a creative outlet for me about eight years ago. I didn’t plan to become a professional photographer, but looking back I wish I would have found and pursued this path earlier in my life. Photography is what I am meant to do.
R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?
JP: My transition into the professional world of photography happened naturally. Photography took over my life in many ways, and at some point I realized how much time I was spending either 1) behind the camera shooting, or 2) thinking, talking and writing about it. Photography has become much more than just a career, it’s a way of life for me that I share with my wife Rebecca. It’s constantly on my mind, even if I am doing something completely unrelated.
R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?
JP: I don’t really shoot for clients. All of my work is personal, and I believe that personal work will always be a photographer's best work. I think that if you do what you love, the rest will follow. I love travel photography—nothing inspires me more than exploring unknown territory and telling stories about the places I find.
I'm very lucky that the images I create speak to other people enough for them to purchase a print for their home, and to some publications enough so that they trust me to work with them. But these professional opportunities usually present themselves after I have already shot a project.
R: What is your favorite camera and why?
JP: I have two cameras that I equally love: a Hasselblad and a Leica M. Both are film cameras. I shoot film exclusively—color with my Hasselblad, because of the beautiful tones and latitude of medium format film, and B&W with my Leica, because I love the punch and the grain of Tri-X in 35mm. Certain projects call for either one of these tools, but my favorite is combining the different moods.
R: What's your first memory of shooting with film? Why do you continue to shoot it as a pro?
JP: My earliest memory of shooting film is using a pocket camera with 110 film when I was a child, the kind with the disposable flash that you can only use one time. I’m not sure if they are even around anymore!
I shoot film now because it’s the only medium that gives me a workflow that I enjoy. I love the whole process, from loading the camera to the feeling of excitement I get while downloading my scans or seeing silver gelatin prints develop in the darkroom. It's also the only medium that can translate not just what I see but exactly how I see it into an image format.
R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?
JP: When you shoot film, you don’t have control over the whole creative process. You have to get as much right in camera as you can! Then, the lab needs to understand your vision and be able to work with your negatives as intuitively as you work when you are taking pictures. Communication is important to make sure the lab understands your preferences.
The more work you put into communicating with your lab, the easier for them to help you achieve the results you envision in camera, and the less work you will have with subsequent jobs. I think it’s paramount to not switch around labs if you’re not happy with your first batch of scans—investing time in helping them understand you pays off! If you see awesome work from a particular lab repeatedly and you are disappointed by your own results, it’s very likely something that you control and not the lab. Don’t be too shy to ask for help, the film community is awesome!
R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?
JP: I usually do a couple of backflips before I take a picture.
R: What song/music do you listen to to get pumped up?
JP: Almost anything from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?
JP: Hot & spicy.
R: Chocolate or vanilla?
R: Dogs or cats?
JP: Definitely bears.
R: Urban or rural?
JP: Both, please!
R: Modern or vintage?
JP: Vintage cameras, progressive thoughts.
R: Breakfast or Dinner?
JP: Dinner (if there's dessert).
R: Warm weather or cold weather?
JP: Cold weather.
R: Biggie or Tupac?
JP: Dr. Dre.
R: Early bird or night owl?
JP: A bit of both.
R: Crossword or Sudoku?
R: Batman or Superman?
R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?
R: Comedy or Drama?
JP: Anything from Quentin Tarantino.
R: Truth or dare?
JP: Double dare.
R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?
JP: I’m trying really hard not to grow up.
R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?
JP: Getting film on a spool in a changing bag without dropping it!
R: What is your favorite word, and why?
JP: "Love", because it’s the most important word in the world.