It’s been awhile friends. The last month has been long and arduous. I’ve been working non-stop on a project that the editors of the paper are really invested in and I think I’ve hit a lull in being creative.
I hate to say it, but sometimes this job burns me down. It leaves me with no sense of self-worth and little remembrance of why I am in it. I see all these people doing great work and wonder why I am not doing the same.
The creative juices have been sapped from me, so I tried to jump start myself at the State basketball tourney last weekend. These were my attempts to show the drama without the action.
Thanks for looking, friends
So I’ve been really lame in my first month of blogging in 2014. I have tried over and over to start and write some of the things that have been on my mind, but they just haven’t been flowing. The long and short of it is that I haven’t been feeling that inspired with my work and I need to jump full force into something quick. I’m hoping to eventually push through, so look for at least three blog posts next month.
Here is a look back at a busy January. The rest of this blog will be random thoughts and ideas I’ve either written in notebooks or emailed to myself.
Jan. 19th- This lady just asked if I needed help shooting pictures of the race. I wish I said something devastatingly witty in reply.
Jan. 19th – I remember when I was probably seven and thought I was the fastest runner a kid could be. I challenged a classmate to a race in the parking lot and when he beat me, I learned that I was, in fact, rather slow.
Jan. 23- Totally overheard a cheerleader saying she farted during that last cheer. I wonder how often that happens.
Jan. 18- What’s the differential on close friends after college? I wonder if any of them think about our times together. I definitely still cling to those friendships with random texts, hoping to magically spur conversation that will transport us back to a time when we genuinely cared about each other. Now we talk about video games and life, but not the same as before. Not with the same fervor or interest. It’s gone. Time is unyielding.
Jan 16- Broke a lens filter just now when a puck smacked the front of it through the hole. Heard some other photogs talk(i)ng crap earlier, but I’m going to believe that this makes me legit now.
Jan. 13- People grow and sell algae. My college refrigerator was a gold-mine and I never knew.
Jan. 11- This guy is talking, but I really don’t need any of what he is saying, but I want him to feel important so I’ll just keep writing and writing and writing and writing and writing and done.
Jan. 16- I just awkwardly high-fived a drunk guy in a Tap-Out shirt who asked me how many times a girl has ‘asked about my big lens.’ Trying to decide whether this is a new high or low. Further investigation required.
Jan 31- I miss her.
Jan. 9- So many innuendoes, so little time.
Anyway, as always, thanks for looking my friends. I do truly appreciate everyone of you even though I never say it enough.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” -Abe
It’s been a crazy year. I went from a know-nothing newbee, into a slightly less know-nothing one-year-bee. Overall I’d say that is a success.
Lost and confused to slightly more lost and more confused. Then back to normal. Then, more lost. Wash, rinse and repeat.
But I grew a lot this last year. Not in height. I appear to be stuck at 6’1. That’s not going to help me with my hope of being drafted by the Suns. But in photographic skill and general knowledge.
I learned to appreciate things. Large and small. Friends and family. The most important camera is the one you have on you. And I spent a lot more time shooting on my phone. Partly because work requires it and partly because it gives me a even more, fly-on-the-wall ability.
Some of my best memories from the year actually occurred without a camera in my hand. I will remember them fondly, even if I can’t post them to this blog. I made so many new friends over the past year, too many to name, but know that I appreciate each of you for keeping me sane and listening to me ramble when you could’ve easily said shut up.
Every year, I get to the end and look back. I compare to the year before. And initially I was disappointed with this year. I looked at the previous year and felt like I accomplished more. Like I had better images the year before. I looked around at my coworkers and felt like a pauper among princes. (See their work here- http://www.azcentral.com/photo/News/PhotosofYear/)
But I looked back again, to everything I got to experience and to everything I learned. I got better on each assignment, even if there wasn’t a portfolio picture out of it. I became more patient. I sat on situations for longer. I thought more and more about every shoot.
Sure, I’m not going to win any POYi’s, but I did improve. One of my favorite photographers and mentors, Alyssa Schukar tried to get it through my thick skull. I was complaining to her earlier this year that I wasn’t improving. That I had hit my peak and had flat-lined.
“I’d encourage you to look back at previous times you had felt that you’d plateaued. I think you may find that they were actually times of growth. Only you couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” - Alyssa Schukar
Her advice was right. Don’t be shooting for a portfolio. Don’t think about where you are or where you want to be. When I started shooting, I would shoot anything and everything. I was a kid in a candy store. Every assignment I thought about where the best light was and how I could get to the best situation. I needed to get back to that.
And so I did. The last part of this year was a blast. I shot how I wanted to shoot and let the rest fall into place. Maybe this isn’t the best work in the world, but it’s the best that I got so far. And I’m going to get better. Whether I realize it or not, it will happen.
“You’ve got to keep shooting until you forget about that damned plateau. Don’t think about your portfolio for a bit. Just shoot.” -A
And those have been the best words I’ve listened to. Forget the portfolio for awhile. Shoot because you can. Shoot because you love to shoot. Just shoot.
Thanks again, friends.
I just turned 24 and according to my “plan,” set by 14-year-old Patrick, I’m pretty far behind on some looming deadlines. But I’ve spent the last decade always skating by on the last second, so I’m used to it by now. Here is a few assignments from last month of work.
Shane Olivea, former NFL lineman, is preparing to get back into the game and training in Phoenix. Newsday called me up and wanted some portraits. To be quite honest I was nervous about the limited time and access, especially being my first non-wedding freelance gig in awhile. Nevertheless, I shot it and the big guy was ridiculously nice and easy going.
I also shot my first Ironman competition. These people are ridiculously insane. I was just exhausted from watching them do all that stuff all day.
I came back to my yearly season of basketball portraits. Not a great set to start out with, but I’m glad to be back shooting my favorite sport (to play/watch or shoot) and have a few ideas I’m hoping to bring to the table for some high school teams later on this season.
I visited a lady who fosters boxers and reminded me how much I missed owning a dog. I grew up with a boxer when I was young and they are extremely smart, funny dogs. I’m looking into picking myself up a friend maybe after a bit. If I do, I apologize now for what my instagram feed will become.
And a return to high school football playoffs. So much excitement and fun. This year I got to shoot some important games (the big timers had College Football to worry about, suckers) and enjoyed every bit.
Anyway, nothing crazy in this blog post. Just trying to push out something with a little bit of consistency. Fourteen-year-old Patrick can shove it, I’m going at my own pace. A pace that might even put out an end of the year blog post for the first time in like three years.
Thanks for looking my friends.
I find it very fitting that the team with the Budweiser sponsor won the race in Phoenix. Especially since my first trough urinal experience at NASCAR occurred with a man taking a big drink of Keystone while peeing elbow to elbow with me. Ew. Keystone.
When you see photographers like Christian Peterson or Mark J. Rebilas at the races, you know there are going to be great images coming out from it. So I try and get competitive, try to think of new angles. But with cars rolling around a track, there seem to only be a number of areas to get stuff from. I’m still learning the areas and the shooting, but it’s getting a bit more fun each time. Kinda looking forward to the next race in March.
Also in a bit of shameless self-promotion, I got a Q and A with the NPPA blog- http://blogs.nppa.org/visualstudent/2013/11/24/emerging-talent-patrick-breen/
Extremely honored to be on the blog, and thankful for everyone’s responses. It means a lot. I probably don’t say it enough, but I’m extremely grateful for everyone who has helped get me here. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to improve and change everything in my portfolio and life that I forget to take a breath and look around and appreciate what I’ve got.
I have amazing friends, an awesome boss, a beautiful girl, a talented staff of co-workers constantly pushing me further. I have a job that pays me to shoot. I’ve got a roof over my head and a netflix account with a darn-near perfect queue. If someone had told me everything I would have done and everyone I would’ve met over this crazy journey to 24 years I would’ve thought they were lying.
So I apologize for the constant worrying, complaining and self-deprecating.
I’m lucky. Oh so lucky, and I do appreciate everyone. Thanks for looking friends.
In between Eddie Adams Workshop, CPOY, POYi, NPPA and any other acronyms I’m missing, I always experience an increase in self-loathing. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. So today, I’m writing myself a reminder to read over when the inevitable disappointment of something happens.
So future Patrick, listen up.
Any of those awards or accolades would have been great. They would’ve helped fill a resume, or impress an employer. But they aren’t the end all, be all. They aren’t why you started and they shouldn’t be why you continue to shoot. Remember everytime you got that shooting high? That moment where you were so excited to be doing what you’re doing. The memories. Whether it be a photo you loved or a subject hugging you while crying. Remember those.
Take time to think about walking into Betty’s bedroom to see the cut-out newspaper picture you took of her and her fiancee in the parking lot on the street. Her telling you that’s the only photo they have together. Remember all that.
Wanting to get better is always a good thing. But this type of stuff isn’t. Because in the end, awards won’t keep you warm at night. They won’t laugh with you while watching a movie or join you for a beer after a long work week. They won’t provide any comfort when you’re old, alone and grey, sitting in a beat-up cloth recliner. They’ll sit on a wall or on a resume long gone while you pull back those memories of the people you met and the things you experienced.
So be happy. You are being paid to shoot. To meet people. To experience life. How can it get better than that? How many of the things you did this past year would have happened if you weren’t a photographer? Life is great. Somebody likes your stuff enough to let you do that for living. In your wildest dreams just four short college years ago, you never thought that would happen.
So cheer up, dude. Tomorrow’s a new day with a new shoot and a new everything. Go make some kickass frames you can be proud of and experience some crazy things you’ll remember when you’re old and grey.
(the much wiser) present day Patrick