We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Darin Patterson. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Darin below.
Darin, appreciate you joining us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
The path to learn an artistic trade is never linear. Skills can be self-taught, inherited, or learned from others. Sometimes it is one of those things and other times it is a combination of all three. The path I took to learn the art of photography was mostly self-taught and inherited; however, it did include a combination of those three scenarios at times. As I look back over my photography journey, I can trace its beginnings to when I was a young kid with my parents. I can vividly remember them always photographing my brother and mine’s childhood experiences. I can still see us as young kids posing for photos taken during school field trips, birthdays, family vacations and so many other childhood activities. As soon as I was old enough to hold a camera, I began to help capture those moments. But the true roots for the passion were planted before I was born. The history of photography in my family didn’t start with my parents, it actually started with their parents. My mom’s dad was a photographer in the army during WWII. He was stationed in Germany and documented the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies. Unfortunately he passed years before I was born, but, from the stories told by my mother, he became an avid photographer after the war. Then my grandparents on my dad’s side had the luxury to retire early and travel the world. During their travels, not only were they bringing home the stories of whatever particular journey they had just come back from but also had taken the photos to enrich their tales. As a child, I would spend countless hours looking over all their photo albums and hanging on to every detail of the stories from their trips. In looking back at my own history through those interactions with my parents and grandparents, at the time I didn’t realize or quite understand that the seeds were being planted for me to develop my own joy of photography. Reflecting on my personal journey, photography has always been in my blood, a piece of my family history…something that was passed down to me to carry on my family’s legacy. My family’s love of photography is something that I feel is reflected in my own photography now.
From this introduction into photography by my parents, my passion deepened and there was a desire to teach myself as much as I could about photography. I wanted to “soak up” as much information as I possibly could. This included learning about various photography techniques such as composition, aperture, and exposure. However back then, it was a different era…less technology. It was the pre-Internet and pre-YouTube years. Educating myself came mostly from studying photos in magazines like National Geographic or AAA Travel World (both prevalent around my parent’s house when I was younger) as well as spending hours poring over manuals and “how-to” books checked out from my local library. Learning in those years required a little bit more diligence and patience. The camera was also at a different point in its evolution when I first began my photography journey. The camera phone was not a thing yet. DLSRs with the powerful auto-correction tools they have today were just in their infancy. Film put into cameras were all we had to use and that came with SLOW film processing (there was no instant development like there is today either). We had to wait weeks to get the pictures back (while hopefully not losing our claim ticket!), and every time we got the pictures back it was like “Christmas”. Nothing quite like the joy after a long wait to see what you were visualizing through your lens. The training and knowledge gained from experience was quite a different process back in the day as well. For example, if you were out photographing and ran out of film, you would possibly miss opportunities until you found a store to buy more film. The inconveniences of the 80s and 90s technology was not all bad, however. I feel like those limitations also made the photographer better appreciate the shot selection. One would have to be more selective with taking a photograph because too many bad shots would add up to a waste of film and money. And to think, nowadays taking several hundred photographs in a session is not even an afterthought.
No matter the era though, I do believe that the best way to learn and refine your skills is through practice and self-teaching. That is one thing today’s technology helps out with greatly, the ability to take multiple pictures at any moment of any day. At any given time I am taking pictures, reviewing what I took, and looking for ways to improve a shot. I look for any opportunity to snap a photo and this mentality has really helped to develop my skills! But even with this modern technology convenience, I always feel like I am searching for time in order to continue my education not only in the trade itself but also in the managing/developing of my company, Sandy Feet Photography. Part of that time obstacle comes from requirements of my daytime job. And then it is also easy to get distracted with other, personal, things that life throws at you…sometimes it is just hard to give the art the proper devotion it deserves. But when something is your passion…when it “moves” you…obstacles like that can be and are overcome. That is why at a minimum I try to take a few photos every couple of days. I try to spend an evening editing. Or I use my lunch to read an article I found in a photo journal. Since this is my creative outlet, I try to keep photography high on my list of todos. And to keep an area from becoming stale, particularly when you are always around that place, I look at it as a welcomed challenge to try to find something new and interesting to photograph.
There is so much to learn and grow within the art, I can see myself never quenching that thirst for more knowledge…for more experience. I want to always challenge, always push myself and to reflect that passion as best as possible in my work.
Darin, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
The love of travel along with the love of photography were instilled in me as a child and then nurtured and refined as I grew older. My parents believed seeing not only the local world around me , but also experiencing the world outside of my local area was important.
Photography has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad was always taking photographs and videoing us as kids. It was the way we were able to document our journeys, keeping the memories with our family as we grew older. I can still see my parents making a travel photo album after every trip when we were young. With this, I developed a photography hobby of my own that has continued to evolve over the years into something deeper. This simple pleasure quickly developed into not just a way to capture memories but an expressive art form. Now the hobby has developed into a semi-professional career and, with the support of friends and family, inspired me to start my own company Sandy Feet Photography specializing in wall art for your home/office as well as traditional photography services like photo sessions and branding.
What do you find most rewarding about being creative?
The most rewarding part about being an artist for me IS the creativity, being a creative. My day job, since graduation, has always been in the finance/accounting fields working as an analyst. The work is extremely “left-brain” with little outlet for creativity. I have always been more of a creative at heart so having photography as an outlet to be able to express my creative side I would say at many times is extremely therapeutic. There is a certain “peace” about being behind the lens of a camera, listening to your favorite jams and snapping photos. I enjoy being able to use photography as a way to showcase myself and the world as I see it. Then sharing this creativity with others and seeing their wonderment really brings it all home for me.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
My goal that drives my photography is to showcase the world through my eyes. I have always held many interest, but I find the world (in all aspects) a very interesting place. I want to display the best it has to offer. I want to document the “not-so best” moments that come as well. I view my photography as a story, illustrating the experiences shared throughout life. Photography is meant to capture that special moment and preserve it forever. And because the memory could last a lifetime I strive to illicit the most emotion I can in a photograph.
- Website: www.sandyfeetphotography.net
- Instagram: @sandy_feet_photography
Sandy Feet Photography