"ONCE YOU find something you are passionate about and love, it's the coolest feeling ever," says photographer Robert Patrick.
For Patrick, the path towards his passion began on Instagram, where the sharp graphic style of contemporary urban photographers, like Van Styles of V/SUAL, 13th Witness, and trashhand populated his feed, in turn, feeding his creativity.
“I saw some street art pictures that I really enjoyed. Urban photography, street portraits, long exposure type stuff and gritty night photos just really caught my eye,” says Patrick.
Pulled into the obsessive quest for the perfect iPhone photo to post, Patrick realized this was passion.
“I felt I could do this really well,” Patrick says.
Now, seven months after his photo indulgent splurge on a Canon DSLR, he is sharing his work and emerging visual style this month at Gallery Espresso.
While newly minted into the creative fold and purely self-taught, Patrick supplants experience with dedication and enthusiasm.
“I just started driving around town, taking photos. My thing was I would use a quarter tank of gas every day,” says Patrick.
“I would go all night or until my battery would die, not sleep, because I was so in love with it. I was just fascinated. I still drive up and down the coast. Go to Florida—some little beach town—sleep in my car, wake up in the morning, get cool pictures of the ocean, sunrises, talk to people, coffee shops, bars,” Patrick describes.
The images have visual impact—his fervor and drive radiate.
He captures the sleek curves, arresting verticals, and sparkling grit of overpasses, highways, and bridges with reverence for their architectural solidity and dynamism.
Placing himself in the middle of the action, Patrick achieves precision in his lines and grandeur in scope.
He has braved settings such as the middle of the Talmadge Bridge, bringing intensity to his compositions.
“I’m standing in the middle, on top [of the bridge] and there are semis passing; people driving by, like, ‘What is he doing?’ I will stay up there till I get the shot I want,” says Patrick of the experience.
Within architectural images, the play of light and shadow bare the fluid geometry and majestic stoicism of modern structures.
Patrick’s candid street images sing, shedding his primary concentration on the perfection of line in favor of embracing the decisive moment.
Motion blur seeps in and his active compositions capture incidental flashes of human interaction with moody grit.
This is exemplified in “I Can See You”, a scene of a young boy tossing a coin into a fountain while in the background a hard, yet seductive woman stares the camera down.
“When I started taking photos, I started seeing everything differently. It’s an opportunity,” says Patrick.
Following an intuitive visual understanding, he is exploring the city with a newfound appreciation and understanding.
“I like to go into different places and get photos people don’t normally see in Savannah,” Patrick says.
One standout image in the show, “Tax Money”, was taken at the old Hungry World on E. Broad. While unnoticed by tourists, this is a local photo hotspot with its nostalgic sign, graceful curving architecture, and peeling vivid blue paint.
Patrick’s image is unique as he capitalizes on the brilliant hue but instead focuses on the warped motion of a passing car to stunning effect.
While he regularly partakes in coastal jaunts, most the images in the exhibition are from Savannah, with just a couple taken in Atlanta and Jacksonville.
His aesthetic is influenced by his background in skateboarding and punk scenes, as well as his love of music—both the punk of his youth and hip-hop.
“Music has always been a big part of me,” says Patrick.
“When I get home and I start editing a photo, I’ll play music and whatever is going on will set the tone for what the image is going to be, the colors and style,” he says.
Patrick’s editing process reveals his precisionist streak, as well as his learning method—trail and error through intensive practice.
“I’ll spend hours and hours and hours editing a photo. Erasing it, re-editing it, erasing it, continue re-editing things until I like how it resolves,” Patrick explains.
He is currently focused on expanding his horizons; honing his craft, experimenting with film, collaborating with others in the creative realm, and possibly entering into the world of fashion t-shirt design.
“I always wanted to create something but didn’t know really what to create,” says Patrick.
Armed with an outlet that excites and inspires him, Patrick is swiftly developing a voice as a creative—a promising voice to be heard.