Patrick Schmetzer’s detailed images exude authenticity, revealing the connections between identity, place and perceived behavior. For Patrick, photography is a process of acceptance, driven by an openness to the revelations each subject offers, rather than a desire to manipulate form or catalogue details. He achieves this vision by capturing and pausing those defining moments in the film where elements and spirits come together. Patrick is also very funny. Not mean hilarious, or swearing hilarious, and never at your expense. It’s a wholesome, vaguely American, quiet, sly fun, he’ll stare at you and burst out Ha! Patrick’s conversation style lends itself to long drives to scenic destinations. This interview was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those days are still in the rearview mirror.
Why do you photograph?
I take pictures because I have to, it’s my way of connecting with the world. It is a search for meaning and an attempt to connect with something bigger and even more lasting. Being able to take pictures is a huge gift and I can’t imagine my life without it. I’ve been searching, hoping to see the truth in any form. Part of me wishes to never find the absolute truth because the search itself is the gift that brings me so much joy. I have always had this insatiable desire to learn because I wanted to grow deeply as a person. I have this feeling that if I take another picture, I’ll be closer to the thing that’s been calling me to take pictures. This is very purposeful. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t.
It’s part of what gets me out of bed in the morning and I can take another picture of the possibility. The experience begins to approach a miracle. I feel like there’s still this big chunk missing in my wholeness, so I make photos as a way of trying to find that wholeness. It’s an opportunity to maybe make a deep connection to the world and whatever I’m trying to photograph. I use photography as part of my practice. It is a desire to connect with something greater than myself, even greater than human beings. I saw it on the white sand plains. I see this on the faces of people I’ve photographed. I am amazed that I can make this my life and am amazed at the generosity and support of others.
What drives your choice of subject matter?
How I choose a subject is really out of knowing it; a better understanding of its subtleties, its nuances, even its beauty. When I take pictures, it’s one of the happiest experiences of my life. I came home at the end of the day feeling very satisfied and spent. Even if I don’t come back with a perfect image, I feel like I’m one step closer to achieving it. For me, the goal in life is to move an inch a day and become a better version of myself. Even if I didn’t come back with a masterpiece, I moved my hands and feet. I’ve learned a few things that will be helpful for my future photos and who knows what else.
What do you think the next period of your life is going to look like photographically? Do you have any photographic hopes, wishes, and dreams?
For me, making images is part of a long-term continuum. Each image brings me a little closer to that thing, a little bit more clearly, but I can’t see the whole picture yet. I don’t really have a map, I just know it’s somewhere on the next horizon. place to call. When I look back on my previous projects, I never knew. There are many views. My photos and themes finally found me. I don’t know what’s on the horizon next, and part of me loves it. As far as dreams go, there are a lot of places I’d love to have the opportunity to see and photograph because I’d love to learn about them and I feel like they can teach me something. Now, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are two places that strongly call me to. I don’t know what the future holds.