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The environmental portraiture and evocative stories behind the images of Patryce Bak

June 8, 2015 by


Patryce Bak specialises in fashion, people and lifestyle photography, she also shoots amazing portraits which always tell a story. Some of her clients include LL Bean, Niche Media, Maine Magazine and Down East.
At only 25 she was a finalist in PDN´s 30, which selects emerging photographers and her work has been featured in exhibitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Zurich, amongst others. Patryce Bak is indeed very international, her work has also taken her to Crete and northern Norway, for photo shoots.

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Production Paradise:  How did you start your career as a professional photographer and how would you define your style in a few words?

Patryce Bak: I started out as a make-up artist when I was 17 working for a well known commercial photographer in San Francisco. When I began my college art studies I decided to concentrate on photography because after working in the studio it became clear to me that I needed to be shooting.
My style is best defined by the cinematic quality of my portraits. I always aim to create images that feel as if there’s more to the story. I want to draw in my viewer and leave them with space for interpretation.

Production Paradise: At age 25 you were a finalist in PDN´s 30 which selects emerging photographers that have demonstrated a distinctive vision, creativity, and versatility; did you feel surprised to receive this award?

Patryce Bak: That was a really exciting moment for me. I had been working on a project depicting Dust Bowl era inspired imagery and was extremely passionate about the work. It felt incredible to have that body of work formally recognized by PDN. The award was announced only months after the events of September 11th in New York City, so did it not have the kind of effect that being part of “30 under 30” could have produced for a young photographer’s career at the time, but it was an extraordinary honor and helped to forge some valuable lasting connections.

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Production Paradise: It seems like food and healthy lifestyle also play an important role in your life; does it somehow influence your work?

Patryce Bak: In recent years I decided to merge these two passions by working on a project photographing beyond organic farmers in Maine. These were farmers from whom I actually bought most of my food at the time. The project allowed me to get to know these courageous people and learn more about what their work life entails. This was very fulfilling in of itself, but also provided me a very rich story to tell. Full of all the things I love to photograph: great character portraits, rustic environs, still life in disarray and the figure in landscape. In a way returning to my interest in recreating Dust Bowl era imagery by documenting the lives of today’s agricultural pioneers—the farmers that are returning to chemical free, traditional, sustainable farming methods.

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Production Paradise: What’s the most beautiful outdoor location you’ve worked in?

Patryce Bak: It would be really hard to commit to any single location, but I would say that Crete, northern Norway and Iceland are a tie.  I spent two weeks working on a personal project in Norway and was just blown away by the extraordinary beauty of both the Arctic Circle and south. The only down side was that even in the summer the water was so cold I wasn’t hearty enough to enjoy much swimming.

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Production Paradise: You have a unique concentration on environmental portraiture, why?

Patryce Bak: Shooting people in their environment, or in an environment that is descriptive of a story, is an exciting way to work. There are many elements to play with and decisions to be made, as what to include or exclude in order to most effectively convey a story. I really enjoy the work that goes into creating contrast or heightening the subject’s mood with the objects or landscapes that relate to their character.

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Production Paradise: You shoot fashion, portrait and lifestyle photography which all involve working with both real people and professional models. Do you have a preference in working with non-professional versus professional talent?

Patryce Bak: I really enjoy working with both professional models and real people. In some ways they’re similar and other aspects of working with either group are unique. There used to be a much wider gap between the two, but now with social media and the prevalence of digital photography most people have a greater sense of self awareness. In either case, there’s a raw energy that I’m attracted to that can be drawn out of most any subject.

Production Paradise: With your focus on shooting people, what aspects of production do you find most interesting?

Patryce Bak: I really enjoy all the elements that go into producing an assignment. I especially enjoy shoots where I can have input on all the components: selecting my team, talent, location, etc. Photography is such an immensely collaborative process it’s critical to be working with people who understand your vision and who inspire you.

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Production Paradise: What type of commercial work do you like to shoot most?

Patryce Bak: Anything that involves shooting people in an interesting environment. Whether it’s a fashion or lifestyle shoot, working with a compelling subject in an environment with dimension is always fun and engaging.

Production Paradise:  With one of your catalog clients being LL Bean, how do you feel about shooting in-house catalog work?

Patryce Bak: LL Bean is a terrific client. They have a very high sense of integrity and expect their shooters to create images as if the work was being shot on film with the intention of very minimal post work being applied to the images–even for production shots. This attention to detail makes for an interesting work day. Aside from that, I really enjoy the benefits of shooting in-house as far as consistency and the luxury of walking into an already produced shoot. That can be really nice when you’ve got a full schedule!

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We would like to thank Patryce Bak  for taking the time to speak with us. You can see more of her work on Production Paradise and her website. Patryce and other New York people photographers are listed in our directory.

If you want to show off your latest work to the industry in the next edition of Production Paradise’s Spotlight or Showcase magazine, contact us now at showcasemagazine@productionparadise.com or spotlightmagazine@productionparadise.com

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