The eerie landscapes and spooky scenes captured in the work of photographer Patrick Joust are a result of his desire to better acquaint himself with Baltimore, Maryland when he moved there as a stranger to the town a decade ago.
“I moved to Baltimore to work in Americorps as an educational mentor/tutor/jack of all trades,” Patrick told us. “This position involved a lot of driving and walking around to different parts of the city. As I got to know the place more, I wanted to try and capture my impressions. I took a couple decent shots back then, but I didn’t really develop a clear direction for my work until much later.”
As the subject and location for his work, Patrick’s view of Baltimore is very different to ones you’d see in, say, the films of John Waters. While it shares the gritty reality the filmmaker finds in the city, Patrick’s work anthropomorphizes the town itself, rather than the subcultures that exist there. Armed with his medium format cameras, he spends a four-nine hours in any given week seeking out new places and perspectives to capture.
“While I’m sure there are “decisive moments” out there that I’m missing, I tend to take the attitude that there are a lot of good photographs just waiting for me, or someone else, to capture and that it’s just a matter of wading into “the stream” in order to get a lot of those shots.
I work in downtown Baltimore and see interesting scenes just about everyday. I also live in a great and lively neighborhood. I know I’m “missing” a lot out there, but that’s okay. I think I would be more stressed out about the idea that I might not be missing opportunities. The important thing is to try and make some time during the week to take pictures. Some weeks you’ll take more and others less, but I think good photography requires a concerted effort so that a decent pool of photos is created to draw from.”
The 34-year-old librarian regrets the pictures he didn’t have the skills or confidence to take during his high school and college years, but sees the study of art he did during that time influencing his haunting practice, rather than viewing them as wasted years.
“I’ve always had a big interest as an observer of art, particularly painting, and I spent a lot of time as a teenager and college student in art museums and looking at books and I think that some of that might be helping me now. It’s hard to say though because I don’t necessarily see those connections day-to-day, while I’m out shooting…My participation in online photo sites like Flickr has especially helped to build within me a sense of momentum when it has come to taking pictures and improving my output…I find myself looking at dozens (sometimes hundreds) of photos a day. It’s easy to get inspired when others are doing the same kinds of things that I’ve been wanting to do or making new subjects and methods accessible. While I’ve never formally studied or taken any courses in photography, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good education this way.”