feature: The rush of photography, taking time to stare at the clouds, and navigating creative blocks with Isaiah Pate

Vivid, vibrant, and full of life––that's the best way to describe the expansive portfolio of Winston-Salem photographer Isaiah Pate. We got to speak with him about how he developed an interest in photography, his most memorable shooting experience, biggest challenges he's faced so far, and a bunch more. Read the full interview after the jump!

Tell us about who you are and what you do.
My name is Isaiah Pate. I’m a black bisexual portrait & music photographer based in Winston Salem, North Carolina and I also do a little writing from time to time.  

How did you develop an interest in photography? 
It was in 2014 when I first realized how interested I was in  photography. I came across photographer Bryant Eslava on  Instagram and I just remember becoming so infatuated with his work  and how he carried himself as a creative. He was shooting people like Nash Grier, Martin Garrix, Ethan & Grayson Dolan, Cameron Dallas, all of these different web stars and well known people; while also traveling around the world. I was just in awe at how lively his photos were and how much fun he was having while working, I decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; take portraits of people, make new friends, connect with interesting minds, and to travel as much as I can. Along the way, I came across tons of other photographers that just furthered my interests even  more.  

What's your headspace like when doing a shoot? 
I almost feel like I’m getting high or some sort of rush while I’m  shooting, I just get really enthusiastic. I zone out time from time becoming deeply enveloped in my camera and the subject...almost like an out of body experience, like I’m not of this earth anymore. Mentally I’m just somewhere else, but all good thoughts and things.  

What's one of the biggest challenges you've faced in your photography career so far?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far...I would have to say going through creative blocks, they take a huge toll on my mental health. The first one I went through was unexpected, but the whole week it’d had been raining and I remember not being able to shoot for the longest time it felt like; even before the rain had came I had  no work to keep myself busy. I had no idea what my next concept  was going to be, who I wanted to shoot, what I wanted to shoot, along with other frivolous thoughts filling my mind at the time; they were just toppling over each other like dominoes and it sent me into an episode where I just felt like only existing in my bedroom and not wanting to move from the same spot I’ve woken up at for days upon end. So definitely learning how to navigate through the mental obstacles that comes with being an artist has been a challenge for sure.  

What’s one of your most memorable photography experiences?
I would have to say working under Chris McPherson is definitely at  the top of my most memorable experiences. I was able to intern for  the commercial photographer in 2016 right after I graduated high school, I moved to Los Angeles for 3 months and got to experience a whole lot while I was there. The first week I assisted chris in shooting  ‘DNCE’ (a band formed by Joe Jonas) for Entertainment Weekly,  meeting 1/3 of the Jonas Brothers in person was pretty damn surreal. Later down the road I got to assist Chris once again, shooting will.i.am for ‘The New York Times’ at will.i.am’s studio in LA.  I had a brief conversation with Will and my name was even credited on the piece that we did, my mind was blown away. I was completely taken away at the thought that this is going to be me in the years to come. Chris and one of his assistants also taught how to develop film, it was my first time taking pictures with a film camera and also my first time in a red room; super cool stuff. 

If you could photograph any person (living or dead) who would it be and why? 
Had to really dig deep with this one, okay… 

Actor wise: Timothée Chalamet, the first time I saw Mr. Chalamet perform was in ‘Call Me By Your Name’. I’ve never been touched so emotionally by a film ever in my life. Despite what the “critics” think, I  believe Timothée is a very beautiful human being. From his looks and personality, I know we would create some very interesting thought out portraits. I’d also love to just have a cup of coffee or tea and just  chat it up all day with the guy.  

Artist wise: Frank Ocean, I could just end the answer there haha. No but in all seriousness, Frank is such a gentle force, a lyrical genius, and a creative soul. I believe we would make the most memorable conceptual pieces. I feel like our minds/ideas would just mesh really well with each other or maybe they wouldn’t, but that’s the beauty of  the unknown.  

Music you've been listening to lately? 
Oh man, everyone and everything; I don’t even know where to begin.  My team SOON has two amazing artists who I’ve been bonding with since quarantine started, William Hinson & Jame; amazing artists & amazing tunes, definitely keep your eye on them. Steadily listening to Wallows, always. My favorite band in the world, they’re so fucking talented. Heavily listening to Peter Manos, his first EP ‘Do You Turn  Red?’ recently came out and it’s gorgeous. I’m just gonna make a ‘must listen to’ playlist for your readers to look at or else we’ll be here all day (which i’m totally fine with by the way).  

Favorite food spot in Winston-Salem? 
Easy, ‘Cin Cin Burger Bar’. 

Anything else you'd like to add? 
Yo, readers! Listen, I know the world is in a very very weird place  right now but please remember to just be kind to one another. Being  a nice human being isn’t hard to do, it takes no energy at all. Also  please take care of your mental health, it’s an overlooked issue that  needs to be taken seriously; now more than ever. Read a book, Have a picnic, Stare at the clouds, Listen to your favorite album, Dance  around your room, Talk to a loved one, Watch a new film, Start journaling, Cuddle your dog/s, Take a nap, Do whatever you need to  do to make yourself feel good. Thanks for taking the time to read a little into my life, you can keep up with my work @isaiahpate & my personal page where i share a little bit more of me, my friends, outtakes of shoots, my writing, archived work, and other art related things @6thlove on Instagram :) 

Follow Isaiah on Instagram (@isaiahpate)