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Patrick Pilkey
New York, NY
Nikon F5 | Contax T2

What were some of the focal points of learning Photography at a Degree level?

That is a difficult question to answer briefly. I learned of course a great deal about the history of photography, also the theories and practices involved in critiquing and understanding images. That being said I believe one of the biggest things I learned while in school is that you are your best tool. No camera or lighting technique can replace an experienced hand or an engaged mind. The more you truly involve yourself into what you are doing the more successful the outcome. I feel your art can be a direct reflection of your person in that way.

I’d say another golden rule I learned studying art is that your education is never truly finished. You should work your mind and push yourself to learn more every day. After graduating I asked a few of my professors to send me a list of books that serve as the next step to what we had been studying my final year of college. I got an amazing list of books and have been reading and keeping a notebook since. I would like to grad school in the future so I feel staying sharp is key.

Like I said there are so many answers to this question but I feel those two lessons where very major to my education. It took me a very long time to truly realize these lessons but once I did it forever impacted the way I structure my practice. 

You’ve recently moved to Brooklyn. What was the transition like and what did opportunity did the move involve?

Yes I recently moved to East Bushwick, though Ive been in Brooklyn for a while now. The transition was a bit of a wanderlust time in my life. It was 2014 and I was working as a photographer for the Baltimore City Paper. I had just completed my undergrad in photography and was looking for the next step after college. After receiving an acceptance to intern for Mary Ellen Mark, I packed my bags in two weeks and left for New York. The transition was a bit of a leap of faith. I was working for the photographer who almost singlehandedly introduced me to the world of photography and living in the most insane city on the planet at the same time, so I really don’t know how much more of a shock it could have been.

Since then the opportunities of New York have some how miraculously kept me in their graces. After interning with Mary Ellen, I worked for about six months doing freelance as an assistant and a retoucher. In that time I received a reference from a friend of mine for an opening at a studio, that is how I met National Geographic photographer Robert Clark. I applied for the opening and got the job as his studio assistant. From there I went on to be his studio manager which is what I do currently to pay the rent. I would say the transition to New York has provided me with a massive amount of opportunity, not only to work but to learn and grow as a photographer alongside some very talented artists. 

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Website: patrickpilkey.com
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