Meet the Artist: Summit photographer Patrick Paden seeks new ways to take traditional images
September 17, 2013
This summer, 21-year-old local photographer Patrick Paden donated two of his photos to local organizations in Summit County — one to the Summit Foundation and one to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center office in Frisco.
The donations, Paden said, were to acknowledge the positive roles that both organizations had played in his life.
In addition to receiving a scholarship from the Summit Foundation, Paden worked for them for several years, including last year as their photographer. The photo he donated was an image he took of the Great Rubber Duck Race — a mass shot of hundreds of yellow rubber ducks making their way down the Blue River.
Paden's donation to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center is in honor of his mother, Lisa Paden. Five years ago, Lisa was diagnosed with a brain tumor and breast cancer. Although not fully recovered, she's doing better, and Paden wanted to show his appreciation to those who had cared for her.
"I knew she was in good care over at Shaw, so it was a relief for me knowing that she has good doctors and nurses that really care about her," he said.
The photo he donated to the center is a spread of the Ten Mile Range, part of his "Sunrise on the Summit" series.
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"It was just one of those shots that really struck me," he said of why he chose that particular photo to donate. "I just really loved it and I felt like they would also like it."
Growing a passion
A 2011 graduate of Summit High School, Paden has pursued photography since he was a freshman, following in the footsteps of his father. After learning the basics of how cameras work and what makes a good shot, he moved on to study black-and-white photography and film development. Despite the advent of digital cameras and computer technology, Paden prefers to take the more traditional method and avoid using programs like Photoshop to do filters, adjustments and touch-ups.
"My passion has always been capturing nature as it truly is, without Photoshop or any photo enhancing," he said.
During his senior year, Paden participated in the Keystone Mountain Arts Gathering, which furthered his ambition to grow his skills.
"That was a great way to meet many other artists from around the country and around the world," he said.
He continued working on his photography as he earned his associate's in science at Colorado Mountain College. Now, he's studying environmental design at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His studies incorporate architecture and design with environmental landscapes. Paden is looking at urban planning as a potential career, bringing together his passions for art and the environment.
While at Summit High, Paden brought Earth Hour to the county, encouraging residents and local businesses to observe one hour of no electricity. It was part of a worldwide effort with the World Wildlife Foundation to raise awareness for climate change and energy consumption.
"It was great to give back to the community, really educate the community, connect and learn about my local government and how it worked," Paden said of the effort.
That environmental focus can also be found in his photographic art.
Lens on landscapes
It's not unusual for Paden to get up very early in the morning, or hike out to a scenic spot, in order to get the best shot. He's also not afraid to get down low, in what he calls an "ant's eye view of the world." He's lain down on his back on the pebbles along the shore of the Dillon Reservoir a few times, for example.
Even if he doesn't get the right shot, he still enjoys being out and about. One of the reasons why he doesn't like Photoshop, he said, is because it's too much time in front of the computer and not enough time out in nature with his camera.
"Really, I just open my mind, open my camera, and get whatever I can get," he said. "If I don't get anything, it's still a fun time."
Although he does portraits and some Real Estate photography, landscapes are truly where his heart lies when it comes to choosing his subject. The area of Summit County constantly inspired him, he added, with plenty of options for great photos.
Though he has many to choose from, Paden struggles to define which of his photographs he likes the best. In fact, he's not sure he's shot it yet.
"I'm still waiting for that one truly perfect image," he said.
Paden's ultimate goal is for the tranquility of nature to transport through the image and reach the viewer.
"I mainly like to show peace, really show a calm shot, nothing too obstructive or over the top. Something (that) if people pulled it up, they could stare at it for hours," he said. "I want them to sit back, take in the image and breathe."
This attitude has helped him during the difficult times of his mother's illness, he added.
"I really learned to take a step back from reality, look at the world around me and observe, take it in for a few minutes before heading on to whatever I'm about to do," he said. "It gives me a totally different perspective on what life is like."
For more information about Patrick Paden and to view his photography, visit him on the web at http://padendesigns.com.
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