For Patrick Hoelck, Photography Was 'A Pleasant Accident'
By Ben Trivett Posted Apr 16th 2010 05:00PM
From LA to New York, Patrick Hoelck has risen above the ranks and established himself as a premiere celebrity photographer. This music video director turned photographer has worked in fashion, documentary and even feature films. Capturing subjects such as Kanye West, Clint Eastwood and Will Ferrell has become a trademark for Patrick. His true talent, though, is establishing a connection with these celebrities that allows them to open up to his lens. We were able to catch up with Patrick and talk about his influences, beating out Richard Avedon for a cover and his new feature film, 'Mercy.' See what he had to say after the jump.
On breaking into the business:
Photography was a pleasant accident. I was obsessed with making film as a kid, and I moved to New York City when I was sixteen and luckily, I was kind of tired with ... basically, I lived in L.A. and I couldn't get a job in film production because I was throwing really successful underground nightclubs. All the kids that were, like, the Hollywood kids, the sons of the guys that ran the town, they would always, kind of like, when I would ask to PA, they would always say, "Oh, yeah, right" -- 'cause I was doing an underground with 1,000 people at it. In a money sense, they were like, "This doesn't make sense that you want to PA or get into this, like, on some ghetto level." So, they would always blow off my opportunity ... the good news was New York was kind of booming with hip-hop and guys like Harris Savides and great cinematographers that, like, worked with Fincher and these guys were shooting music videos. So it was like a melting pot and a learning center and I worked with a lot of 'em. And, I quickly became a director because Kevin Bray blew up so big, he was doing $150,000 videos, but then there was like $20,000 videos coming his way and, uh, I remember putting a reel together of work that wasn't mine 'cause I was so aggressive to get directing. We pitched this work that wasn't mine until somebody let me direct their video based on this whole delirium that I laid out that wasn't even my work, and I got in trouble for that later when a couple of the directors were like, "That's mine!" and I'm like, "I'm so sorry!" Thank God we're friends now ... I was part of a company called Hex Films that was doing really well. We were doing a video a week, and if I wasn't directing, I was assistant directing guys that worked every day, so that's really where this whole infusion came in.
A career-making photograph:
I think one of the career makers in my life is an old story where there was a British magazine called, I think it was called Flux, and Gallo was up for the cover, and Richard Avedon was shooting the cover, and Vincent was so crazy, he replaced Avedon with me, as a beginning photographer, because he had already worked with Richard. And the magazine was like, "You know, you're out of your mind." Vincent had a little weight because 'Buffalo' was starting to make him kind of a big deal, and he said, "It's really simple. I either do the cover with this kid, Hoelck, that you don't know, or I don't do a cover." And they went for it, and I shot the cover
Being a part of history:
I remember one time, there was a couple times in my life when I was kind of pinching myself, which was one time, I was in the middle of a desert outside of Palm Springs, there's these things called, like, the salt flats, and I was a couple miles from anyone with Dolly Parton, and there was a moment when it was just like, I was shooting her and it was just a job and I looked at her and I realized this woman's done, like, so much, that I was kind of taken aback by how much history this woman's created, from beginning to where she was, in a historical way. And I guess I could say that about Eastwood as well, where you lean back and you go, "They're almost like human versions of Coke or Levis" -- where the brand is just so long it's crazy.
Kanye West shot by Patrick Hoelck.
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
Making feature films:
I always wanted to make feature film, and the one thing with photography was, it was going too well. I had a couple films that I put together before this film, and they kind of fell apart with investors and different things, and I was pushing photo hard enough to self-finance my own films, which was kind of a goal of mine, and by the time I reached that place with photography, this film came from Scott [Caan], an old friend, and he had written a lot of different screenplays, and this one, I just kind of really liked it, so I got involved and this is my first film, my first feature that'll be a theatrical release.
Tools for the bigger picture:
I was one of those guys who held onto film for the longest [time] because I have a 4x5 (Traditional film camera), and I've been lucky to have a team that shoots a 4x5 almost as fast as someone shoots a point-and-shoot. So, I kept on that for a long time, but the times have changed. Clients have slid into, like, pretty much exclusive digital. I very rarely get to bring out film cameras anymore, for speed and turnaround. But I enjoy any medium and I really enjoy light. I'm one of the believers that it's really composition and lighting, and if you're honoring those, you can pretty much use a pinhole camera or a Kellogg's box with a hole in it. I think, in some places, people get really overly obsessed with the new 5-D, or the new 7-D. To me, it's like an analyzation of a paintbrush and the fibers on it. I think it's just means to a bigger picture.
Be sure to check out more of Patrick's work at PatrickHoelck.com and keep a watch for his 2010 release of the film 'Mercy'
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