My name is Patrick Melon. Born and raised in New Orleans. I’ve been shooting pictures for about 8 years now. I got really serious about it back in ’08, and just been shooting everyday since then.
When I think about it I realize that skateboarding is what really got me into photography. I used to always want to meet up with friends who were skating, and I would be the designated photographer because I couldn’t do all the tricks myself. I just enjoyed it so much and I enjoyed hanging out with people and getting the moments of when they landed the super hard trick that they’d been working on.
Sometimes I look at professional sports photographers photos, especially their pictures of skateboarders and I’m like, “man this picture sucks, you can tell this guy doesn’t know anything about skateboarding.” (laughs)
One of the most prosperous moments for me as a skateboarder/photographer was Go Skate Day 2012. That was a year when Humidity, we all met up at Humidity. Phil organizes these huge meetups for us where we just skate through the city… There were so many people throughout that whole day that met up with us and ended up joined the rest of the day. I feel like that day I took some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken in my entire life. Not just skateboarding, but period. I took some of the best photos of my entire life.
Phil (Philly Santosuosso of Humidity Skate Shop) and BMike (Brandan Odums) are probably two of the biggest influences I’ve had period as far as my growth and development throughout new orleans. I remember the first time I met Phil, he was the first person I ever saw do a tre flip in real life. I was a senior in high school, I was fresh off Tony Hawk (video game) and everything, and I was like, “Whoa, I didn’t know you could actually do that in real life!” (laughs).
And from there he would be always welcoming and encouraging. I would say some stuff sometimes, like, “Oh I don’t really know how to skate” and he’s like: Patrick, it’s not about that. It’s about having fun, and it’s about keep going. That pushed me to continue skating, keep filming, and taking pictures of people around me that skateboarded too.
And, yeah, Bmike, his presence as a community organizer, artist slash activist. I’ve always been inspired by his work. He started of with music videos and media, film based stuff, and he just gradually moved into what he’s doing right now with a lot more of the painting and stuff. That was always a huge influence on me.
We took a road trip to Arizona to film what will eventually hopefully become a documentary around the process of Exhibit Be being built and how other communities use art and activism to benefit their communities.
I’m proud to say that I was there since the conception of Project Be. I’ve been involved in documenting it since BMike started it…. I made a documentary revolving around my experiences. And then it got to the point where I got to interview BMike himself, and that’s how we started working more closely together. And the documentary that came out of that ended up premiering at the Tulane Black Arts Festival back in February 2013.
The universe presents things when you’re ready for them. And just recently, working on this project with Defend New Orleans – this was the most fun photography project I’ve ever done. I was given the materials and told: do whatever it is that you do already. And I did just that. It was cool because it was goal oriented and it made me challenge myself to get the shots that I wanted. I had to conceptualize in my mind what I wanted to get, and I ended up achieving that and then some.
And from there I’ve had a couple other opportunities that have just begun to spring up out of the blue. I’ve been doing a lot more freelance stuff. I never put myself out there as a photographer for hire, and my sister, she’s much more on that business marketing side, and I love her to death, and she gave me the tips to put myself out there and when I started doing that I noticed a response. People did contact me to get me to shoot events.
I’m going to DC at the end of June to do a documentary project on a fashion show where all the models are cancer survivors. I was asked to come and film the fashion show, and do some interviews with the models and people involved. It’s not a paying gig, but the beautiful thing about it is they’re going to pay for the flight out there and my hotel, and while I’m out there I’m going to take the time to go spend a couple days in New York as well and just meet up with people and make some connections to go shoot some more photos.
Little stuff like that. Little things that put me in a position to invest more in myself.
To go back to the fashion show thing. Another reason I was asked to do that, and I’ve never said this publicly before, but I was actually diagnosed with cancer when I was 19. It was a very difficult and trying time for me in my life. I have my mom to thank because she was always by my side while I was getting treatments and surgery and all that stuff done. So that project is something that does hit close to home. And it’s crazy to me, after I fully recuperated – I’m classified as no evidence of disease right now – I think photography is one of those things that pulled me out of that situation. It made me stop even thinking of it!
Basically I had in mind to put out a call for models or something, but the biggest reason that didn’t happen is because i’m horrible at planning things, I’m impulsive and I just couldn’t take having to schedule time to shoot with people so it turned into just me grabbing anybody who was in my immediate vicinity to come shoot with me. I asked some friends to do it, and took my friends to some places around the city and just shot some spur of the moment photos, really. I think I work best that way, because if I try to plan stuff I just get really impatient…
All the locations I shot are place I’d been to previously. One thing that New Orleans still has a lot of are just properties that are just still kind of in limbo… fortunately I was looking for places that had some nice views of the city so I just revisited some old spots that I’d been to.
I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me: I love your pictures on Instagram, etc, etc. I roam the streets a lot by myself. The majority of times when people see the pictures I’m posting on Instagram, I was out late somewhere alone either late at night or early in the afternoon or morning or whatever and it’s just cool to know that people appreciate the things I do in my solo time for fun.
I mean human beings are full of idiosyncrasies that just remind us of our own selves, and I think I’m just fortunate to capture that when it happens. When you feel like no one is looking, I’m looking…(laughs) Without the creep factor involved (laughing)