We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.email@example.com
Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Patrick Ecclesine. I like working with Patrick because he has a vision that elevates anything I have ever had in my mind when approaching a shoot. He has a bank of knowledge and creativity that allows me obtain more than I anticipated and more concepts and ideas I haven’t even thought of.
How many years have you been in business?
Twelve years now.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did two semesters of photography in high school and then quit when classes got into color printing, which, for some reason, I had little interest in at the time. That was the extent of my formal training.
Who was you greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
A rock and roll photographer named Barry Schultz. He’s a great guy originally from LA’s San Fernando Valley, who spent years traveling with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and a bunch of other legendary rock groups of the ’70s. My dad met Barry in the waiting room of the Hollywood hospital where Barry’s daughter and I were both born and our families became intertwined. Because Barry’s wife is Dutch, they decided to live in Holland where they built a very successful stock footage company.
During my freshman year in college I went to Europe. In Amsterdam Barry gave me a dozen rolls of positive film that he wanted to test and, for six weeks, I traveled through Europe documenting the trip with my Pentax. Later, Barry developed the film, which was nice, because I was broke and probably would never have got around to it. I still remember the serious look on his face when he called me into his office. With all the slides spread out on a light table, he said, “This work is excellent. Really, every frame could be a postcard. You could do this professionally. I mean it.”
I don’t know if he meant it, but I believed him. Later, when I came up against a lot of resistance, I’d go back to that moment and it gave me the courage to push through all the naysayers. That one moment gave me the confidence I needed. Sometimes all you need is someone to believe in you so you can believe in yourself.
How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
Personal work. It is an absolute must. It is how you develop a point of view and find your visual integrity.
Do you find that some creative love your work but the client holds you back?
The key word in this equation is client. If you’re taking a job, then your responsibility is to the client. Period. You may be hired for your personal vision, but if you’re selling a product, whether it’s an entertainment property or toothpaste, you have to frame that product according to the client’s needs. Granted, you have to bring your point of view to the work, but it’s not about your ego. It’s about servicing the needs of the job.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
The entertainment community is tight-knit and difficult to break into. Once you’re in the door and people see you’re not leaving, word spreads on its own. Thankfully I have some great clients who have been incredibly supportive of me throughout the years, which has allowed me to focus on my personal work. I keep tap dancing around social media but, outside of Instagram, I’ve had trouble truly embracing it. I’d much rather spend my time with real people in person. I go to New York quite a bit where I’ll meet with anyone and everyone. I’ve been reaching out to other markets because I’d like to spread my wings and collaborate with people in other fields, but it’s tricky because I’m labeled a celebrity shooter. I never thought that could work against me, but sometimes it does. Mind you I’m not complaining. Lately I’ve been shooting for Vanity Fair. It was always a dream of mine to contribute to Vanity Fair so I’m really proud and grateful for this.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Buyers need to see that you are capable of executing the sort of work they’re hiring for. They’d be putting their jobs on the line to take chances on unproven talent. On the other hand, if you’re chasing the ever-changing landscape of shifting desires and tastes by replicating the current climate of what’s popular now, then you’re sacrificing the one thing you have of value as an artist: your point of view.
The issue this question raises is one of art and commerce. You need the commercial jobs to finance your art, and you need the art to stay inspired, create fresh work, and get the commercial jobs. It doesn’t matter if you’re an art director, a designer, a musician, a painter, a filmmaker or a photographer, the reality that any artist working in the commercial medium has to face is that they must fight for their creative every step of the way. It is disheartening to see your best work get quashed and never see the light of day. The only way to prevent getting jaded or turning bitter is to create work that speaks to you individually. Personal work is essential because it transcends words, salesmanship, or any attempts at imitation. It is the spark that ignites the connection between creative people and is your greatest currency as an artist.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
How often are you shooting new work?
As much as possible. I’ve always been intrigued by the gap between stills and motion. I believe there’s a lot of ground to break in this arena and I’ve been testing, experimenting, and refining. Recently I’ve been mounting RED cameras to drones that I’ve had custom built. The technology is mesmerizing, allowing for spectacular visuals. I’ve also been collaborating with director and executive producer Daniel Sackheim. We’re working on a neo-noir narrative in stills that we call Slow Kiss. It features lavish production values, recognizable actors, and unfolds like a movie within a book. We recently hit a wall with financing, but I expect the project will soon regain traction because it’s truly unique and ambitious.
For me, images are all about telling a story, and every good story has some mystery to it. Like life itself, you can never say with certainty where it’s headed. All you can do is your best work and hope that people take notice.
PATRICK ECCLESINE has lensed over 100 publicity and advertising campaigns for the film and television industry. A frequent contributor to Vanity Fair Magazine, Patrick is an award-winning photographer, director, avid surfer, and ten-year member of the I.A.T.S.E. International Cinematographer’s Guild.
His 2009 book, Faces of Sunset Boulevard, tied for first place with Annie Leibovitz’s book, Work, to win the prestigious 2009 SCIBA Book Award for Arts & Architecture.
Patrick was born and raised in Hollywood, California, earning his B.A. from the University of California Santa Barbara.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information. Follow her@SuzanneSease.