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Meet Allen Patrou of Apatrou Photography in North Central Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allen Patrou.

Allen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My love of photography is tied to my love of art. I found out years ago in grade school how much fun it was and how much I loved creating beautiful images in my art classes. I explored all types of media from painting to sculpture to block printing and more. I must have gotten some of the teacher’s attention because in those early years I received three art scholarships to attend summer art classes at the University of Rochester, NY before I reached junior high school.

By the time, I reached high school I had discovered an amazing mechanism called the camera. I completely enjoyed the mechanism itself, the lenses, controls and all of the different parts and how together they could be used to create beautiful images on film! That started me out as an ‘artistic photographer’ as a serious hobbyist and lasted for many years. My desire and enjoyment for photography faded somewhat over the years as I had begun working with my hands on all types of mechanical and electrical equipment. However, after an extended stay in Calgary, Alberta upon my return to Phoenix I returned to explore photography in the digital age. That was followed by learning how to edit in a very early version of Photoshop and I was again hooked.

My compact Canon digital camera slowly evolved into a Canon digital SLR along with tons of workshops, classes and hours upon hours of practice I surpassed any earlier film versions of my imagery. Now I had complete control of everything especially the editing process. I had been creating images mostly for friends and family and started creating large displays for my church here in Phoenix. After a fortunate and yet unfortunate automobile collision my neck was injured by whiplash.

This was actually the second time I had been plowed into from behind at a stop light, but this time was more than my neck could take. I was forced to stop doing the physical repair work and allowed me to move into photography full time. I opened a small private studio in the old Sunnyslope area of North Central Phoenix at my home. After a few years I built a new camera room onto the back which is connected to a private entrance. My new studio was ready to go complete with restroom and feeds out into the large back yard where I have my “Garden Studio’ as well. I’ve planted trees, build some backdrop structures, and now have hundreds of flowering plants, bridges, benches and more. It’s always there whenever we want a more natural setting almost any time of year.

My professional development over the past 10 years has been mostly through associations at the state and national levels. I’ve been a member of the Arizona Professional Photographers Association AZPPA and Professional Photographers of America PPA. I have achieved dozens of awards at both the state and international photographic print competitions. I achieved my Certified Professional Photographer status in May of 2012. Through many years of continued professional development classes, workshops, speaking and mentoring newer photographers, testing and image creation I received my Masters of Photography degree from PPA January, 2017.

Photography as art is a never ending series of constant creation, education, service to clients and other photographers and hard work to keep things fresh and interesting. I hope it will be many more years before I ever have to stop.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For me everything in my life seems to be hard fought for and a struggle. I’ve never had anything handed to me other than good parents who worked hard to give me the opportunities I had. For me the cost of equipment, software, lighting, backgrounds, and more can be an incredible expense. I usually purchase a little at a time the next thing I need the most. Another struggle for me has been getting enough of my work exposed to those who would appreciate the artistic images I work so hard to create.

I tend to be one of those artistic types who is great at the art but poor at the business end of things. So perhaps this bit more of exposure will get me a step closer to the exposure that I need to keep things going. That along with having to baby my often aching neck injury seem to be my main struggles. Everything in life is a struggle, and so is creating art. Without struggle there would be no life. Without friction, there would be no progress.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Apatrou Photography – what should we know?
I consider myself an artist. A photographic artist! Many of my fellow photographers can recognize my style. During print competitions I’m often asked, “Is that one yours?” Lots of time the answer is yes because they know how to recognize many of my portraits. There are several areas I really enjoy and specialize in and they always involve people. I’m know for my gritty, dramatic portraits of unique characters with age lines and years of experience in their faces. I also greatly enjoy working with children from about four or five on up. We create some of the worlds
‘s most unique fine art fairy portraits!

Children can be the most fun to work with and I find their innocence (in most cases but not all!) and sweetness refreshing. I love seeing their cute little faces and trying to portray the beauty and innocence I see there. I’ve watched many of my young clients a few years later as they grow up and we love to see them again in their senior year of high school.

The senior years are another great age to capture them along with any developing talents and personal expressions as they break into the adult world. So I love working with seniors too and trying to draw out of them whatever it is that makes them special in their world. You never know what someone is all about until you work with them, along with their parents in most cases too. I’ve had some amazing young adults come through the studio and it’s wonderful to see them go on and see where they go. I’ve seen the whole range from sports enthusiasts to fashionistas to dancers, singers, and musicians. We love to follow them through all of their major life changes!

So we love working with families, children, seniors, talent & business head shots, singers and dancers (ballerinas are a personal favorite) and more! I take in a wide range of clients and of course go out on location lots of times too. There are some incredible locations in and around the greater Phoenix area we to for portraits. I’m happy to capture almost anyone’s portrait and give it my special mix of editing artistry that I’m known for and that has advanced me to this position of Master of Photography.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have to give high praise to AZPPA and PPA organizations and especially all those local member photographers who have been examples, mentors and teachers and friends in such a wide field. Some of the old timers who always seem to have been there in our AZPPA association would be Bob Coates, Kay Eskridge, Dale Holladay, Bruce Roscoe, Sara Goodnick, and too many more to list.

I also have really appreciated all those who have and still do assisted my in studio and on location shoots. There’s nothing better than an extra pair of hands to help things go along smoothly. I really can’t begin to mention everyone who cheered me on through all of the daily challenges of running a small photography business.

There’s always a greater power in life that’s keeps things going and in my understanding of the universe, guides and protects us I would always have to give credit to the Creator of the universe who inspires me to try and see beauty in things and people and to capture it for others to enjoy. I hope my hard work and good karma will hold out for a long time to come.

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All images are Copyright of Allen Patrou

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