Interview of Patrick Joust – photographer living Baltimore, Maryland.
Where and when were you born ?
I was born in Oroville, California in 1978. I left Oroville when I was 5, but it’s always easy to find my way back because there’s a huge “O” on the side of a bluff, just above the town, that can be seen for miles away. It’s also home to one of the tallest earth filled dams in the world, and it’s the location of where they found Ishi, the last of the Yahi Native Americans.
I’ve read that you traveled a lot across the USA and that you’re now settled in Baltimore. Is it a good city for photographers ? What American cities have you found interesting to shoot ?
For me, Baltimore is a great city for photography, and when you look at the work that’s being produced here by other photographers, it’s clearly an inspiring place for anyone who wants to pick up a camera. Baltimore was the main impetus for my photography, and even though it took me quite a while to develop something I was happy with, the city kept up my interest enough to keep trying. On the surface it’s not as easy a place to shoot as New York or San Francisco, especially for street photography; it can be a very quiet city and, in parts, desolate, but it’s got a lot of personality and personalities to explore.
I actually can’t think of an American city that I’ve visited that I wouldn’t want to take pictures in. I tend to find interesting subjects wherever I go. That being said, there are some that stick out … Two years ago I visited Pittsburgh and had a very productive couple days of shooting. I wish it was closer to Baltimore because I’d love to shoot there regularly. Philadelphia is also a great place to visit and there are a number of cities that I’ve been to briefly, like St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland and others, that I want to return to with my camera(s).
Cars have a prominent place in your pictures, what do they evoke for you?
That’s a good question. I’m actually in the midst of compiling a small collection of my car photographs into a book that I plan to put out sometime this year and I’m having a heck of a time trying to write a “smart” introduction. I’m both engaged in and repulsed by car culture. I can try to conjure up some logic to what I’m doing that might make sense to others, yet I can’t give an explanation that, I feel, truly explains what my car photography is all about. I know little about cars themselves and yet I’ve surprised myself with how drawn I have been to them over the years. There’s a part of me that wants to avoid them as photographic subjects, but I can’t help but return to them. I just find automobiles to be fascinating objects especially when they show their age and can be seen within an interesting context. As much as I enjoy taking pictures, I love looking at the work of others and the car photos of Christopher Hall, Dave Glass, Dan Wetmore and many others inspire me to keep returning to them as a subject.
Do you have other projects at the moment or for the future ?
Well I’m working on that car book I mentioned above, but I’m also putting together another book of night photography that I plan to make available in March or April of this year. I think I’ve found a self-publishing option that I like. If the night photography book is successful, there will be more to come. I’ll be posting something on flickr/tumblr/website when it’s ready to go. Stay tuned!
Why do you often take photos at night ?
Sometimes it’s just because the evenings are when I have time to do a lot of shooting, but beyond that, the night has always been fascinating to me. As a kid I seemed to hold on to a fear of the dark for longer than other kids my age, so perhaps that explains some of my interest now. I love noir and “neo-noir” movies too and a number of photographers, particularly Mando Alvarez and Kurt Manley, were big inspirations for me to go out and create my own work.
The general atmosphere that can pervade almost any place at night opens up a lot of possibilities. I’ve enjoyed using a wide range of films and observing how they record the light.
Quite obviously it’s an opportunity to see things differently, which has always been appealing to me.
Are you going to teach to your son how to use a Mamiya C330 S ? :)
Thanks a lot Patrick for these really interesting answers.