A Midwestern sense of humor and “be yourself” attitude make South Park photographer Pat’s images stand out from the pack. Here, we talk story with the Cleveland native to get the scoop on his early career, autographed guitar, and authentic SF photo studio.
How did you get started?
I was working in a photo lab on Clementina Street, off 2nd Street where I hand processed ektachrome. This guy, Doug Rauch, came in. He was the bass player of Santana. He was a cool, young guy from New York. I befriended him and he invited me to be his guest at Winterland on New Year’s Eve. Now, I was a young kid from Cleveland so I was just like, whoa. So I go in, get my photo passes. I remember snapping about twelve pictures of Journey, I took some great shots of Santana, and also grabbed some of Doug. Doug came in a week later, and he sees the one of Neil Schon (an American rock guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist in Journey). He goes oh my God! This picture’s amazing! He picks up the phone and calls Herbie Herbert, their manager. So we went over to Journey’s managers and Herbie goes, oh my God! He calls Neil, Neil drives down from Marin, looks at the picture, and they ordered 500 prints. I made like, $100. I was stunned. And it all spiraled from there.
You mention on your web site that you have to be crazy to stand out. Can you give us some examples of how you apply this advice to your business?
Have you ever met me? I am crazy, I’m from Cleveland. Being crazy, that’s my personality. I get these people in here. Part of what I do is psychological. I figure these people out quickly. I get it. And all of a sudden, there’s a bond. I get them in there, and they’re in the studio, and I start tormenting. And being silly. And having fun. It’s real, it’s not being phony.
Give us a virtual tour of your space. Any photographs that are your favorite?
This is very cool: my autographed guitar. It’s amazing who is on here: The Doobie Brothers, Carlos Santana, John Lee Hooker, Ted Nugent, the guys from UFO, Gregg Allman, Paul Kantner from the Jefferson Airplane.
There’s silly stuff here: a pay voucher from the Revolutionary War, giant elephant made by a woman I met at a party, a Three Stooges bobble head.
Share some of the ways you’ve customized your work space
Some of these studios you go in look like hair salons. Screw that. This is me. I want to be comfortable. This is Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. For example, I put on my iPod a bunch of dance songs for models. Screw that! When the music goes on, it’s about me. It’s my space, it’s my environment. When my clients come in here, you realize this is a special place. Instead of being intimidated by this giant white, I’m hipper-than-you place, they immediately feel comfortable. The minute you walk in here, it’s warm. You’re relaxed. It’s all about making the people relaxed. Be yourself.
Join the list of amazing people that have come through these doors. To use this historic SF photo studio for your next photo shoot or meeting and meet Pat himself, book it online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.