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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

California Dreamin': A Conversation with Patrick Romero

The girls & I have a great string of Conversations over at the Nymphoto Blog. But I love the boys too, so I grabbed the chance to have a conversation with Patrick Romero for my blog.
I was introduced to Patrick's work via Amy Stein's blog and then got in touch with him to get his first self-published collection of images: 28 Famous Views of Los Angeles.
I grew up on dubbed American television in Europe and this had a visual impact. While the plots were often stupid, there was some really iconic imagery being created in American film & television and it made an impression on me.
I spent the last few years of high school in New York. Which is not so different from living in urban centers in Europe. California, on the other hand, is something else.
Rockford Files, Hart to Hart, Malibu Barbie, swimming pools, Joshua Tree, Laurel Canyon & the Chateau is what California is all about for me. (I apologize here to any Californian that I am offending).
Again it's not about the stories or values behind those things, but about a certain vibe. Unlike many New Yorkers, I love LA. I like the light, the mild humid winters, the tropical fauna, the color palette and I marvel at its' decadence (pools in the desert?!).
Anyway. There is something about LA and I think that something Los Angeles native Patrick Romero captures beautifully.
He has an amazing eye and he really creates/captures vibe.His sense of color, moment and detail is fantastic. Oh and he is great with words too.

American West © Patrick Romero

N: Tell us a little about yourself?

PR: I was born, raised and currently reside in Los Angeles. I work in the film industry as a motion picture camera assistant, mostly in episodic television. I have a B.A. in English Lit. from UCLA. I never went to art school.

Boho Chic & Fauna © Patrick Romero

N: How did you discover photography?

PR: About 5 years ago out of boredom and on a whim I bought a twin-lens Rolleiflex from an old man in the Hollywood hills. I think I saw one at a friend's house and decided I wanted one. Prior to that I was very much a dabbler. I always had an interest in the visual arts and occasionally shot with an old Canon AE-1 I received as a birthday gift. But since I spent my early twenties getting loaded and being a jackass it never really went very deep. But when I bought the Rollei I had been working in the film industry a few years and had acquired a working knowledge of the technical aspects of shooting. The set was my classroom and the Rollei my lab. Learning to orient the image in the viewfinder with what was in front of me, learning to compose in a square...it gave me a kind of pleasure and satisfaction that no other endeavor did. So I started shooting friends, girlfriends, street scenes, etc.I shot in this kind of desultory manner not really knowing where to go with it. Then I saw Alec Soth speak at Photo LA in January 2007.
I had just become familiar with his work. Before that I had a pretty basic knowledge of the photographic world. I was familiar with the legends..Frank, Arbus, etc. But Soth's work revealed a whole style and genre of photography that was somewhat unfamiliar but had a visual language I felt an instant kinship with. His talk inspired me to make the kind of pictures I'd wanted to make..it sounds corny but it's true. I love shooting..isn't there some line about sex being good even when it's bad That's how i feel about taking pictures..though there's plenty of agony to go along with that sometimes...

Portraiture © Patrick Romero

N: Where do you find inspiration??

PR: It's everywhere..a random phrase, something I see on the drive to work..I'm a bit of a space cadet and a daydreamer. I've always got some scenario or image running through my head.
Also, painting. I love John Singer Sargent, Gerhard Richter, Hockney, who I wasn't a big fan of
until I went to his retrospective at LACMA and saw his incredible pencil sketches..Edward Ruscha and the artists around the Ferus Gallery..Kienholz, Berman, etc.. Los Angeles is also an inspiration to me obviously.
Also meeting and communicating with other photographers whose work I admire has been a big inspiration and motivation to me. At the end of last year I met Amy Stein. She was the first one to respond to my sad little e-mails and give me some encouragement. When she came to LA she met with me and looked at my work which was huge to me. Anyone who knows her will vouch for her awesomeness and she'll always be welcome at my table.. if I ever get one. But really inspiration comes from all directions. One of the more hauntingly beautiful images I've ever seen has been on a car commercial the last few months.

Cali Vista © Patrick Romero

N: How do your projects come about?

PR: This is kind of hard to answer because they are all still evolving except for my "Lifestyles in the Golden Land" project that I've been working on for over a year now. I get an idea, a thought, an image. A kind of laundry list. Start shooting until I see a pattern or point of view emerging. Then I step back, assess and dive back in with a more focused approach. I wish I could do that whole art school thing of saying "well I'm going to do a project about the effects of gentrification" or some such thing and then go out and shoot it. But I accepted early on that that's not my way of working.

N: What's next?

PR: The way things are going probably the county asylum or the poorhouse!! Seriously, just working on my projects..shooting, scheming and dreaming. I'm doing some assisting for my friend Amanda Milius, a fashion/editorial photographer. I'm looking to pursue some of that kind of work soon myself so working with her is an opportunity to learn about some of that. Mainly I need to get a website up. Then I want to self-publish another book. I have plenty of things up my sleeve but they involve money and LA isn't a cheap place to live. I need a wealthy benefactor or a rich girlfriend. (Just kidding..about the rich girlfriend that is.)

N: Thank you!

To see more of Patrick's photography go visit his blog: This Space Available for Filming


Anonymous said...

nice interview and i like his work. ps i am a (secret) LA fan too - the light out there is dreamy.

bryanF said...

kudos patrick :)