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07.31.2019 Patrick La Roque

The Day-Long Lens

Patrick La Roque

My name is Patrick La Roque and I’m a freelance photographer based in Montreal, Canada. I shoot people, spaces, street, products; I shoot to expose a narrative, no matter the subject. 
I’m a founding member of the KAGE COLLECTIVE, an international group of independent photographers focused on visual essays and documentary projects, and operate a studio specializing in portrait and commercial work. 
But at the end of the day, I’m really just a guy looking to tell a story.

”Time waits for no one…”, the Stones croon, ironically suspended in the beauty of eternal youth, ”and it won’t wait for me”. A cliché—until the speed of it actually kicks in. Until rapids submerge us and we start wishing for a break in the flow; solace, if only for a breath or two.

The day begins with coffee, then emails. With the house in shambles (as we get ready to tear down walls and smash floors into bits), these repeating patterns offer powerful magic. Soothing. Clarifying. The camera has this effect on me as well, its clear eye de-fining the limits of my world, splitting it into smaller and smaller pieces. Easier to di-gest, perhaps. Calming.

I head downstairs.

I’m messing around with a new song. Francis is filming today and the studio looks like hell. With the looming renovations it’s become more of a storage room—picture frames on standby and sheets of dry wall crowding the space. The phone rings and it’s my friend Bernard: he needs a portrait but nothing too conventional. Sounds about right. I grab the road case—my usual GFX kit with a small flash—and we hit the road. I’ve brought the 50R with me but I’ll swap for the 50S once we get there. That’s my workhorse. I’m curious to try the 50mm on it too, especially in a session setting.

We left in a downpour but the weather clears as we approach Montreal and the sun emerges like a minor miracle.

I walk to Bernard’s place, chat for a bit and then set up: I place a bare bulb flash on a stand at a low angle, behind some furniture. I want shadows not beauty light. Structur-al stuff. I begin to shoot with the new lens first, to capture a larger view. I like this focal length—tighter than a traditional 35, wider than a 50. It’s not something I’m used to but it works extremely well. I then switch to the 110mm f/2 and quickly turn off the strobe: there’s an open shade window so I flip to pure ambient. Different look, more airy. Less drama.

We get it all done. I change cameras again and we sit outside, drink tea. Seize the day. Watch jet planes as they roar overhead.

Beyond the shade, the sun still burns like mad.

How many times can we photograph a subject before it fades or transforms? How many frames does it take to record who or what it is? I wish I knew. I wish there was a recipe to follow or an equation to apply but alas, no such blueprint exists. All we can hope for is to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Drive our son to visit his girlfriend and absorb the few seconds before he exits the car; catch the light streaming over dangling electrical wires; over stray dog hair; over a distant motel sign or wilted leaves or dirty boots in a hallway. Watch fireflies at sundown, setting fields ablaze. To try and try, no matter where we are, no matter when.

To do all this before the day is done.
All before night descends.