Chatting Photography With Terence Patrick

7/16/2018Jake Ryan

I've been following Terence Patrick on Instagram for some time now. Always impressed by his photography work, and kind of wishing I had his job.

Terence has shot some of the most famous faces in the world and we recently asked him a few questions about his photography and plans for his future.

Check out the entire interview below. 

Hey Terence, first could you tell us a little about yourself?
From as early as I can remember, I’ve been a watcher of people. I have always looked at others with a sense of curiosity and wonder. My first professional use of this skill set took me into advertising; a subject I studied at Cal State Fullerton. During my school days I also was a DJ and played at raves and underground clubs in Los Angeles. Being in front of a crowd that was under my control allowed me to hone my watchful eye to see how people reacted to the music I was playing because the tunes needed to be paced a particular way to obtain the desired emotional impact. But once I discovered photography, I found the perfect way to use this innate skill.  

I love your photography, did you always want to be a photographer growing up?
Growing up I had no clue what I wanted to do, but I have been working to support my hobbies and myself since I was 14. I worked in retail, banking, waiting tables, information technology, DJing, advertising, then spent 12 years as a photo assistant before putting it all together to start shooting for clients.

How did you get started in your career?
Little by little and slowly. Around 1997, I bought my first camera: an Olympus Stylus Epic. I got it to snap photos of friends and my girlfriend at the time. I thought it was so cool because it fit in my pockets. It was fun to snap photos, but my use of the Epic wasn’t intentional in any way; finishing a whole roll might have taken months. But just after the year 2000, I started a blog when blogs were really simple digital diaries (I remember having to explain to everyone what a blog was and why I would put my thoughts on the internet). Once I discovered I could add photos to my blog, I was hooked and began posting more imagery than text. That led to me buying a Lomo LC-A camera and connecting with an online photo community when the Lomo craze was just beginning. I was going to college and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. That semester in Europe gave me a reason to really make lots of photos and I probably shot over a hundred rolls of film, which was massive for me at the time. One of my roommates had his dad’s Nikon and his photos were distinctly different from the Lomo because the images were always really sharp. So I bought a Nikon F80 when I returned home. 

A few months after being home again, I met a wedding photographer, Mike Colon, that a friend of mine knew from playing poker. He taught me a lot about running a small business and marketing. I shot weddings for a few summers with him, but I was still going to school for advertising. I ended up working at a major ad agency after college and was assigned to the art buying department - that’s where photographers, illustrators, etc., get hired to fulfill the creative needs of the agency. My job at the time was to gather the portfolios of photographers and deliver them to art directors and creative directors. I would also look at trends in the photo industry and present these ideas to the creative teams every few weeks. Seeing the portfolios from the best photographers in the world day in and day out was extremely insightful in understanding what the criteria was for getting hired to do a commercial job, which again, was a fairly new concept for me because before college I never thought twice about the photos I saw in ads. One day when I looked through Dewey Nick’s portfolio, something clicked in my mind and I decided at that moment that I had to be a photographer. 

I put in my two week notice and for weeks would cold call and send emails to every photographer in the ASMP Los Angeles directory. Norman Jean Roy’s studio was the first to accept me as an intern and the experience there, almost 14 years ago, has continued to help me till this very day. I stayed with Norman Jean Roy for a while, freelanced with other photographers for a bit, then began first assisting for the photojournalist and documentary director Lauren Greenfield. The culture shock of going from celebrity and fashion into documentary was jarring, but the sense of adventure was a thrill I loved. After a couple of years with Lauren I went on to assist bunch of photographers from still life, architecture, portraiture, and fashion. I carved out a nice little niche for myself as a first assistant in Los Angeles and learned a something from nearly every one of the photographers I worked with from technique, business, client etiquette, or how not to behave on set. I began testing and doing personal projects until I cobbled together a rough portfolio marketable enough to get a legitimate client, Variety Magazine, to hire me regularly. Now my clients range from entertainment, fashion, and portraiture. 

What is it you love most about photography?
I love that photography is accessible and yet challenging. Anybody can take a photo. Anyone can take a good photo. But the challenge of doing it well day in and day out is what keeps me coming back.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the business? 
When starting out in business, say yes to every job to develop experience and problem solving skills. Once business is rolling, push yourself in every job to make one aspect or another better than the last. Then when things start to really move in the right direction, hire a trustworthy attorney and accountant before looking for an agent. 

Do you have a favourite photo you’ve taken, and why?
My favorite photos tend to be of my kids when they’re having fun and don’t really notice the camera. My personal projects also tend to have a special place because of all the time and energy they took to put together. 

What other passions do you have?
Besides photography, I love the live music experience, NBA basketball, and cooking.

Who inspires you?
I have a print hanging in my living room of Barack Obama that Pete Souza shot on the night of inauguration. It’s just after the parties ended and President Obama is in an elevator removing his bow tie with a proud, yet relieved smile on his face. I walk by that print every day and remind myself that anything is possible. 

What’s been your proudest moment so far in life?
Being an active and engaged dad to my two girls and committed husband to my wife.

And finally, what are your plans for the future? 
I’m wrapping up the production of my first proper portfolio with marketing materials and I’m looking forward to showing them off. 

Thanks Terence for taking the 
time to chat with TravelFoodFilm

Make sure you follow Terence on Instagram HERE

Follow his work HERE 

All photos in this post are property of Terence 

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