interview by Shristi Jaiswal
Life is fleeting, especially in the Big Apple where everything runs swiftly like an ongoing train. Like a Ferris wheel in play or a movie refusing to roll the credits. Hence, the only way to hold onto to moments that give our days meaning is through photographs. Usually elucidated as “poetry without words,” photography is an art cherished by many but practised faithfully by few.
We sat with New-York based photographer Patrick Raitor and learnt what drove him to change his passion into profession. In addition we discovered some fascinating facts about his life like how he still gets giddy every time while packing his camera for a shoot even though he’s been practising photography now for over a decade!
After all this time? His response: Always!
What drew you to pick up a camera when you were younger?
I would say looking at pictures in various magazines whether at an airport or a doctor’s office and realising that I’d like to be the one behind the lens shooting at interesting and exotic locations all around the world.
You go by the name Modern Gypsy? Is there a story behind it?
The Modern Gypsy is a riff off of a surf movie that came out in 2011 called The Path of the Modern Gypsy presented by Reef. I believe there was a time when I watched this movie before school every day for a year. As I grew up in a small rural town of Minnesota, it served as a staunch reminder for me to get out and explore the world. Interestingly, the movie fuelled almost everything that I love now like surfing, the tropics and photography itself.
You live in New York, so how would you say that has influenced your photography style?
I think it has made my photography a bit edgier. Not only in the way I film my subjects but rather the way I approach photography itself. As there are so many artists present in the city, thereby stirring a bit of a healthy competition, it makes me constantly try to push myself to be better and keep trying on new things.
What camera do you use to take most of your photos on Instagram?
There are two cameras that I like to juggle between. One is a Canon D Mark 3 and the other is a Sony a7R III.
“I think it is tough for any photographer to catalogue their style as we have our own idea and then other people have their ideas about your style.”
You like to surf a lot, so what would you say is your favourite beach to surf in?
Oh, that’s an amazingly tough question! I would have to go with Noosa in Australia and Uluwatu in Bali.
Coffee or whiskey?
Oh definitely coffee, no question about that!
How would you describe your photography style?
I think it is tough for any photographer to catalogue their style as we have our own idea and then other people have their ideas about your style. I guess my ideal answer would be cinematic.
How did you feel the first time you realised that you had changed your passion into profession?
I would say that it wasn’t just one moment but rather an accumulation of many over the last decade. There are still times when I go “ah-ha” upon the completion of certain benchmarks in my life so really, for me it’s an ongoing celebration.
What does photography personally mean to you?
Well, ultimately it means a number of things. I can express myself and help others express themselves too. It means that I get to create memories, both for myself and others. Funnily, it also comes with the territory of everyone handing you a phone to take photos when you’re with family or friends because you get the tag of being the permanent staff photographer!
You have travelled a lot, which place would you say is your personal favourite?
I had a lovely time in Ireland. It was one of the most scenic destinations I’ve been to in a long time. Also, I got engaged in Ireland so there are a lot of good memories that never fails to leave behind a warm fuzzy feeling.
One book you think, everyone must read at least once in their life?
I think everyone should definitely read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
What would you say your typical day looks like?
Well, it would start with me making a cup of coffee in the morning and then going out for a run or perhaps the gym for an hour. Next, I would work for a bit i.e. either editing or answering emails. By lunch I’ll probably make myself another cup of coffee and read for a bit. Following I’ll get back to work until it’s evening where I would continue working on the train for some time and then go surfing for a few hours.
How do you like to spend your time alone?
My time alone is usually reading, writing or surfing.
Which artists, living or dead, do you look up to the most?
I really look up to Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra.
As we are all under lockdown, how would you say that has impacted your photography plans?
I think it has opened up to me a lot of time to learn new skills that aren’t necessarily behind the camera. I’ve been working on a lot of post processing techniques like Photoshop and Capture One.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
That’s a tough one! I would say compassionate, thoughtful and can I say easy going?
Any quote to leave us with?
This is going to sound really corny but I’d say “Follow your heart.” Like no matter how silly something is if you truly believe in your heart that you must follow through then you should surely pursue it. Especially when it is so easy to lose ourselves in this world that we live in.