Hillseeker Interview Series
With much enthusiasm we welcome Dan Patitucci to the Hillseeker® Interview Series! Dan is a professional mountain sports, travel and lifestyle photographer and lifelong mountain athlete. Together with his wife Janine, they are PatitucciPhoto, a world class mountain and lifestyle photography business and great example of building success and happiness in life by following your passions.
Thanks for joining us, Dan. First, would you please share with us where you’ve just returned from and what that experience was like?
We just spent a week on Rodrigues Island in the Southern Indian Ocean. It was work for the Island Tourism office as they are trying to increase exposure of the island as a destination for Europeans and Americans. They held their 3rd Annual Trail race, a 37km trail run across the island and we photographed that and then spent a week shooting locals and all the activities one can do there. It was a great experience as the island is mostly untouched and we got to see it in a very natural state, we had miles and miles of pure white beaches all to ourselves. I wrote about it here
And how was the Tour of Beijing experience? Any surprises or special moments?
The Tour of Beijing was one of the highlights of the year. As a lifelong bike racer it was a great experience to finally get full access and have a moto to shoot a big race from. Better, the job required me to not just shoot cycling, but the Chinese cycling culture, so it combined my two favorite subjects, travel documentary and cycling. Surprises were the presence of the Chinese military – they were everywhere, making for both an odd feeling and some great photo opps.
With so many projects, are you still finding time to play in the mountains? If not, what are your thoughts on balancing work and play to ensure there’s enough playtime?
Even with our schedule, I am still in the mountains, training or just doing my thing, 300+ days a year. That includes cycling, running ski mountaineering or just hiking. The only days I am not in the mountains are when I am on a flight or the weather is just a little too bad. Luckily, so much of our work requires that we do the sports we shoot, and it is also where the images and/or work is conceptualized. Either myself, or my wife Janine, will be out on a run or ride, and see something we need to go shoot. It may be a location, or even a look or idea that came from doing the sport we need to document. I believe, and certainly hope, this comes through in our work. That it is real, and has soul.
You seem particularly drawn to life and work in the mountains. What’s the source of that magnetic attraction for you?
I am fully out of my element in cities. I feel trapped and stifled. When I am in the mountains my energy comes to life. It’s always been this way – combine this with being an athlete and lots of coffee and the potential for a fun life is high!
Five years ago did you see yourself where you are today? Even 1 year ago?
Five years we were in the same situation! But 12 years ago it all looked very different. We were fresh out of photo school and had zero, I mean ZERO money. We lived in a VW Westfalia in the American west, traveling around shooting the same stuff and trying to get started. It was a tough period, but after two years of commitment and tough times, we made it. But yes, I never thought it would be so dreamy. Although looking back, it doesn’t seem so out there or tough, we had a vision based on dreams and we pursued it without deviating.
How did you deal with adversity along the way? Anything particularly challenging that almost took you down, but you pushed through it?
In that period of two years when we started, I was told by other longtime pros that it was a time we had to survive — it is make or break. We didn’t get work. We were humiliated, humbled and shut down. But we carried on and stayed close to what we wanted, to shoot mountain sports. There were times when we had to do other things to survive, like commercial fishing in Alaska, and, gasp, shooting some fashion work. But we made good decisions, never got into debt and stayed free. Suddenly work started coming our way, then it snowballed.
How did you create opportunities and earn your way onto the big stage in your field? Or is it all just a game of luck and you’re a good dice roller! J.k.!
Our timing was good, we got in before the pre-wanna-be pro photographer crush. Also, being two people running the biz made a difference. It’s a lot of work to do what we do. Two makes a big difference and we motivated each other. Going back to maintaining our freedom played a role as well. We didn’t have to do much else, so we made photos, went on trips and met lots of great people.
What’s the best decision you’ve made in the past few years?
To look at the big picture in life and not get so caught up in the BS. This might come from getting older and having a wife that beats this into my head.
Any advice for others seeking hills and looking for challenges, either in sport or with their career and lifestyle?
Have a clear vision and the courage to see it through. Most of all, do something important for yourself with the time you have.
What’s on tap for next year? Anything you can share with us or are they all secret projects?
Not sure yet, we’d like to go back to Nepal. I would like to become more involved in shooting pro cycling. And we want some pets, which means less travel, which could be tough. We’re testing our capabilities with some house plants.
JANINE AND DAN PATITUCCI
PatitucciPhoto is the unique combination of Dan & Janine Patitucci’s vision for a creative life as photographers and mountain sport athletes. Since 1999, PatitucciPhoto is one of the world’s leading sources of the finest mountain sport, lifestyle and travel images for the global outdoor industry. Based in Grindelwald, Switzerland, Dan & Janine have access to some of the world’s most beautiful mountain locations. As real athletes of the sports they photograph, Dan and Janine have a thorough understanding, high level of technical skill, and passionate enthusiasm for the subjects they photograph. The Patitucci’s work has appeared in countless magazines and ad campaigns for many of the outdoor industry’s leading companies; National Geographic, The North Face, REI, Patagonia, Clif Bar, Petzl, Jack Wolfskin, Gore-Tex, Men’s Journal, Sports Illustrated, Smartwool, Deuter Packs, Mountain Hardwear, Nature’s Path, and many more.
Skype : danpatitucci
Instagram : danpatitucci & janinepatitucci
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Jeff Grant is the author of Flow State Runner: Activate a Powerful Inner Coach’s Voice, Hill Running: Survive & Thrive, Run Faster: Unlock Your Speed in 8 Weeks, Running Heavy, and UltraRunning: Ultimate Guide. Based in Switzerland, Jeff is a coach and writer who specializes in mental coaching, peak performance, and transformation. He is also a Co-Founder of BridgeX Teams LLC, a global virtual team building company. Jeff’s popular newsletter is a digest containing inspirational and instructional resources, including his latest content. See recent issues and subscribe for free here. Refer to Jeff’s bio for more information, and please check out Jeff’s Coach & Author page on Facebook.