A Canon G-12 on a Toronto Summer Evening
It was a clear evening in July at Snugg Harbour along Lake Ontario in Toronto. The hot humid air was tempered by the wind sweeping off the water, ruffling the hair and loose-fitted clothing of summer evening strollers.
My friend Brian Patterson and I had met there for dinner at the Snugg Harbour restaurant, and joined the strollers up and down the pier watching the boats pull in and out of the harbour. Brian held a small Canon G-12 point and shoot camera. He was taking photos of the pier, of the boats pulling in and out, of people walking along the docks. He snapped a few random photos and excitedly showed them to me. The year was 2008—certainly a ways from the heavy-duty cameras we all wield in our phones without thinking twice about it.
He took a shot of a boat passing by, the sun sparkling off droplets that had sprayed up from the lake. “You know Jeff,” he said, “I really enjoy taking pictures. I don’t know . . . there’s just something about it.” And he continued to shoot and we continued to walk.
Brian has always been involved in photography, at least since I first met him over thirty years ago when he was one of my church youth leaders in Toronto. He had spent years in the fashion industry, and was now in the stock photo business. But something about taking photos with that small Sony camera started a fire inside of him, and prepared him for something extraordinary that would drastically change his life.
Brian Meets Stone Temple Pilots Drummer Eric Kretz
One day, Brian had a chance meeting with STP drummer Eric Kretz over dinner. They sat up late in the night and talked. Eric saw Brian’s passion for photography, and invited him backstage to take photos of Stone Temple Pilots for their percussion sponsor GMS Drums. From that moment with Stone Temple Pilots, Brian’s career as a professional photographer took off. As Brian explained to me, the photographs were so well received that he landed a photo assignment contract with Corbis Entertainment and Associated Press, two of the largest entertainment photo agencies in the world.
Shooting Rock and Film Stars for Rolling Stone, Variety, and the Guardian U.K.
Brian has been shooting and producing photography for decades. He is one of North America’s go-to photographers in the entertainment and music industry. Whether he’s shooting Hollywood stars in a unique candid moment, or snapping shots of rock bands and pop idols, Brian has a great eye for capturing what magazines, publishers, agents and publicists want—fresh images that reveal the soul of the artist. Brian’s work has been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety Magazine, TORO Magazine, The Guardian U.K., and a long list of other global entertainment online and print publications.
One organization Brian has been committed to artistically and philanthropically is St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto. Teaming up with Chef Boehmer, whose restaurant ‘Boehmer’ is just north of Queen West in Toronto, Brian donated a number of rock star photos to be auctioned off to raise money for St. Joseph’s Hospital. The gallery remained in Chef Boehmer’s restaurant for two years.
Brian describes his time in the pit during a rock concert as an amazing natural high. It energizes him—and you can really see it in his photos. The performers come right out of the images and stand before you in their vulnerability and humanity. In spite of the medium being static, the images are so dynamic. The musicians come alive–they lunge out of the shot and draw you into their music, their passion, their world.
While planning for our 2019 Take Flight Bid Night, I was thinking a lot about Brian. It had been ten years since we had done some work together in Toronto; nevertheless, he came to mind. I thought, “Man, if we could get some of his photos for Bid Night, that would be something.”
Oohing and Aahing Over Steven Tyler
During one of the IPOD planning meetings, I showed the committee Brian’s website, and scrolled through his myriad rock star photos: Rush, Iggy Pop, Jay-Z, Guns n’ Roses. But it was the photo of Aerosmith that particularly captivated the ladies of the committee—they oohed and aahed over it!
“Can we get those photos for the Bid Night?” one of the committee members asked.
“I’ll call Brian, and see what I can do,” I replied.
The following day I took a walk through Garrison Woods and gave Brian a call and we talked for a while. In spite of ten years passing since our last conversation, it was like we had just talked yesterday. I asked him if he would donate some of his photos, and he said yes—I was delighted! The three top sellers at Chef Boehmer’s auction were Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, and Aerosmith, which he thought would be good for Bid Night. “Perfect,” I said.
The Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, and Aerosmith photographs will be up for auction at Bid Night, and we are excited and honoured to have them, and to be partnered with Brian Patterson in this fundraiser for Master’s.
Brian currently shoots on assignment for Shutterstock/REX Features (entertainment), and Variety Magazine. After years in the stock photo industry, working both sides of the fence of the stock content business (corporate sales and contributor), Brian knows photography like the back of his hand. Brian is also currently Senior Creative Partner at Pond5.
In spite of Brian’s success in the stock photo industry, he’s looking for the next level of his personal vision. As I walked south on 20th Street past My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe, a bus charging by rattling the phone against my ear, Brian and I continued our conversation about photography and media.
“The stock photo industry is a race to the bottom, Jeff,” he explained. “It’s all about selling more photos for less money than the competitor. It’s ridiculous. Shooting photography is an art—it takes time and care, but that work is not being recognized in the industry . . .”
“So where are you heading now, Brian,” I asked. “What’s the next level of your life, what are you envisioning?”
“I’d like to do specialized work for corporate clients; for those who really respect the medium and want to create incredible photography. One of the projects I enjoyed was shooting the Canadian Olympic ski team. It was a pretty big project, shooting them in their different uniforms, etc. So I’d like to do more specialized projects like that. And I want to keep giving back to those organizations that have helped me along the way and that I believe in like St. Joseph’s Hospital, and now Master’s.”
Becoming An Imaginal Leader
At Master’s, we talk a lot about preparing our students for the future by becoming Imaginal. To be Imaginal means that you have a vision for something you want to accomplish and are working at making it a reality.
Brian Patterson is a model of an Imaginal Leader. In the midst of selling stock photos, he found a love, a passion, for capturing the human form through the medium of photography. He started with a small camera, and through hard work, creativity, and his knack for connecting with others, he has pursued his vision without limitation.
We wish Brian many blessings as he continues to build and grow and walk into an ever-increasing sunrise. And we look forward to approaching him again next year.
You’ll find Brian’s photos exclusively at Master’s Take Flight Bid Night on May 30, 2019. You can purchase tickets to Bid Night by clicking here.
You can check out Brian Patterson’s work on his website bpatphotos.com.
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