Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Don't Know Who I Am | An interview with Patrick O'Dell

Photo courtesy of

When I think of Patrick O’Dell I tend to associate you with skateboarding, Morrissey and dogs. Who is Patrick O’Dell?

I like all three of those things. I don't know who I am. Still trying to figure it out.

What was growing up like for you?

My family moved around a lot. I think it made me comfortable with change.  I was bullied as a kid and sometimes still am, people want to beat the things out of you that make you different, 'the nail that stands up, get beaten down.'   

Kevin 'Spank' Long & Jerry Hsu shot by Patrick O'Dell

Photo collage by Patrick O'Dell

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?

 I just wanted adventure, as all kids do.

© Patrick O'Dell

© Patrick O'Dell

How did you find your way into taking photos and make a living from it?
I took photos even before I started skating.  Then as I began skating, I would try and shoot pictures of that.  Eventually I made 'zines and sent them to magazines. 
Bryce Kanights printed some of my pictures in Thrasher, Thomas Campbell printed some in Skateboarder, Joe Brook in Slap.  Just little by little chipped away at having a career. 

Chloe Sevigny shot by Patrick O'Dell
Do you consider yourself a photographer or more the videographer? And which do you prefer?

I prefer photography.  For my shows sometimes I even hire a cameraman to do the videoing for me.  

You seem to be at all the right places at the right time. Friends, networking or just plain bribery?
Luck of the Irish.  I think if you have an interest in discovering things and doing fun stuff, then you find those things. I always choose things I am interested in, over financial gain.  And everyday I try to get at least one thing done, which adds up. 

I am an avid reader/viewer of your epicly later’d blog. Will it be returning in 2012?

Yeah, I've been updating a little more.  I just try to make sure each page is interesting, and sometimes that's hard. 

Ed Templeton and Patrick O'Dell.

© Patrick O'Dell

What projects have you been working on recently?

I've been working on Altamont Apparel lately, shooting the photos and videos, coming up with collabs and t-shirt ideas.  Its been a really fun exciting outlet.  It was an unexpected career turn and I'm enjoying it!

Sleigh Bells shot by Patrick O'Dell

Where do you think most of your inspiration for your work comes from?

I don't know, just being excited about things.  Not trying to be a grouch, not being negative if I can help it.  If I like something, I'm drawn to it. 

Chan Marshall (Cat Power) Shot by Patrick O'Dell

How have you found the transition from your more personal work to more popular advertising work?

I always try to shoot in my style.  Every time I go outside of that it looks bad or feels forced.  So mostly I try and find jobs that want my look.

© Patrick O'Dell

Do you prefer shooting the more personal stuff than the more mainstream stuff or is there a happy medium?

I shoot mostly personal stuff.  I don't shoot car commercials or anything. 

Is there any one person or persons that you really enjoy shooting or have any specific good memories about shooting?
Lots of people, Ali Boulala, Arto Saari, Cardiel, Reynolds, Dash Snow, Chloe, Natasha Lyonne, Morrissey, Cat Power... so many. 

Jerry Hsu © Patrick O'Dell
When you are not shooting photography what can we expect to find you doing?
Relaxing in Echo Park with my dog.  Skating Lincoln Park skate park.  Nature hiking.  Road Tripping. 

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about you and your work?

I haven't thought about it.  I don't know. 

Antuan Dixon shot by Patrick O'Dell

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you have shot something captivating but have morally felt obliged to omit it?
Yeah, a few times.  I didn't shoot Spanky in the hospital when he got burned, but then later I saw that everyone else did.   Sometimes sexy time photos get omitted or things that are personal. 

Do you find your friendship with a lot of the skaters is more of a help or hindrance when interview, filming or shooting them?

No, it makes it way easier.

Patrick and Edgar the dog

Is there anybody you would love to shoot that you haven't yet had the opportunity to?

Sinead O'Connor, Sophie Scholl, Sylvie Vartan.

© Patrick O'Dell

Chad Muska shot by Patrick O'Dell

Who are some of your Photographic Idols and/or Inspirations? And, why?

Jaques Henri Lartigue for sure. He was the first. I like Hedi Slimane too. I get jealous of both of them. 

Terry Kennedy shot by Patrick O'Dell

What can we expect to see you in the future?

More Epicly Later'd episodes... awesome clothing and collaborations by Altamont, I lined up some really cool people to do clothes for us.  Hopefully I'll update my photo site until my death bed.