For his new book, Pat O’Malley has documented a certain type of person doing a certain type of thing. I don’t know any other way to say it and I certainly don’t want to paint him into a corner, but I think what I mean is that he likes to photograph people in their element. In this teaser for his new book “Cruiser”, we also see pictures of places and things that stir up nostalgia, vacation envy and even the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). You’ll be able to score the book in September at the NY Art Book Fair and you can pre-order now.
Tell us about "Travel" photography. What makes it it's own thing? Same with "Action Sports" photography...are there cliches? Do you love it? Hate it?
Both are filled with cliches! When I think about travel photography I think about how every tourist thinks they’re a travel photographer, especially nowadays. Everyone is walking around with a camera in their hands and they’re all trying to get the photo they’ve seen somewhere, but with themselves and their friends in it. It’s a lot about status and image recreation. ‘Action sports’ images are used everywhere in ads— from cell phones to cars to pharmaceuticals. They are used to sell this idea of health, risk taking, youth…etc.
The intersection of these two is one part of what I wanted to talk about with “Cruiser.” I’m specifically interested in a sort of consumption of extreme experiences while on vacation and how the documentation and image recreation of these experiences is such an essential part of it. Like if you didn’t get the photo, what was the point of doing it?
Have you ever dreamt of shooting for National Geographic?
No, not necessarily. When I got into photography in high school I was interested in photojournalism. I thought having some sort of staff shooting position at a big magazine or newspaper was something I wanted. I work as a freelancer now, so that idea seems like an old naive thought.
Have you ever been to the X-Games?
Oh my God! No, I wish haha! Please someone send me to the X-Games to take photos!
What were family vacations like for you as a kid?
I grew up in Nebraska and every year my family does this big camping trip called Fish Bash. One year, when I was maybe 11 years old my cousin and I got in trouble for breaking my uncle’s hammock, so he made us do all these menial chores all week to pay him back and teach us an important life lesson. Toward the end of the trip we found out the hammock only cost a couple dollars so we threw all of his firewood in the river to teach him an important life lesson.
Bungee Jumping or Sky Diving
Dang, actually neither! I’m super afraid of heights. I used to be a window washer and everyday was scared of hanging from the buildings. I photographed people bungee jumping for the project in China and can definitely say it’s not for me.
Were you ever into dares or like, Johnny Knoxville kinda stuff?
Wow, I can’t believe you asked that! You caught me. When I was young at the height of the Jackass days, for sure my buddies and I would push each other in shopping carts into bushes, off ledges and stuff. I went to a Catholic school and remember the priest getting mad at us for doing that kind of stuff.
If you could pick an Olympic sport in which you place gold?
Well, surfing is going to be in the Olympics in 2020. I’d definitely say that’d be the sport, but I’d absolutely place last! They can’t rely on the unpredictability of ocean waves, so they’re building a wave pool for olympic surfing, which is going to be really wild to see. This sort of simulation of a naturally occurring phenomenon like waves in the ocean for the sake of doing something ‘extreme’ is also part of what I was interested in while making the book.
Are you a road trip or a private jet kinda guy?
I’d definitely say I’m a road trip kind of person. I used to have a really amazing conversion van (RIP Ms. Ramsey) and still have a car in Brooklyn. It’s always been important for me to have a vehicle for work and just to get out of the city and see more of the east coast. Plus, only people like Beyonce fly around in private jets, or people who think they are as important as Beyonce.
What is the dorkiest sport on the planet?
Is Segwaying a sport? Watching people in Dubai race around on their Yachts was pretty ridiculous. Another big component of the project is people flying jetpacks. I’m super fascinated with that sport! It’s this funny hybrid of what I had imagined as a kid to be the mode of travel we’d all be using in 2018 and extreme sports.
When and where can we see this series in print?
The book will be out in September! You can preorder a copy here: https://cruiserbook.bigcartel.com/ and follow my instagram @pat.omalley for announcements and other pics.
Images courtesy of PAT O'MALLEY
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
More to read