A Childhood Dream
by Caresse Muir
August 01, 2011 — In 2006, Padraic Deasy realized his childhood dream when he purchased the family photography business from his parents. Working with his wife of seven years, Sonia, who brings vast business knowledge from her family’s fashion business to the studio, Padraic has grown Ireland-based Deasy Photographic into an award-winning boutique portrait studio specializing in family and children’s portraits. “We have created a high profile image in our community,” Padraic says. “It begins with how we package our studio through our interior decorating and studio design.” Their clients are mothers and families who appreciate a creative approach to portrait photography. Padraic says, “We have positioned our studio as a premium brand and we have built up a client base that has attracted some of the wealthiest families
Padraic and Sonia have created a high-profile image in their community of 22,000 people. The studio is located in the heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred horse industry and in the county of Kildare, which has a population of 187,000 people. The studio consists of 2000 square feet in the center of town. When clients walk through the door they know they will be investing in a quality product. The studio décor has been kept minimal with white walls, floor and furniture in keeping with the clean, modern look of their brand and photography. They have three other staff members and run their own in-house lab and custom framing workshop.
Deasy Photographic has three portrait styles. The first is their Classic Style. “Always done in fine-art black and white, this is the most emotional style of portraiture. This studio session is planned with complete simplicity in mind. Clothing is purposely kept dark to maximize the impact of the image. When viewed in your home, your attention will go immediately to the faces of those you love. It’s important that clothing choices complement and not distract from the overall balance and focus of the image,” Padraic says.
Contemporary Style is the second type of photography offered. “This style shouts of fun and energy. This is our most energetic and exciting style. Contemporary Style captures the connections in a family and those natural moments in a loose, journalistic style, using hand-held cameras to allow more creative freedom and less structure for both subject and photographer. Clothing is purposely kept light to maximize the impact of the image,” he says.
The only color sessions offered are their Signature Style. Padraic says, “It’s one of the most original and bespoke styles of portrait image available in Ireland today. The Signature Style is engaging and simple with emphasis on the study of the face. There is an urban chic feel to this style of image so we encourage modern colorful clothes, hats, scarves and anything that will enhance the face, particularly the eyes; this truly is a piece of art.”
Padraic grew up surrounded by photography. In 1981, when he was 5 years old, his parents opened Deasy Photographic in Newbridge, Ireland, 27 miles southwest of Dublin. His parents, Patrick and Sheila Deasy, ran a “general practice business” and photographed a variety of jobs ranging from weddings to press. “As a child I watched and studied my father in the darkroom processing film and making prints; I was brought to seminars and exposed to the very best speakers and photographers from around the world,” Padraic says. “It’s the magic of being around such a creative process is what inspired me to become so passionate about this industry today.”
Padraic graduated from Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design (now the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology) in 1996 and joined the family business. While in college he came home on weekends and began developing his portrait business. He realized then that he had to specialize, and from this, his signature style became black-and-white, high-key portraiture. “My dream has always been to own the best portrait studio in Ireland. I understood at an early age in order to be the best I had to specialize.”
Ever since the age of 21, Padraic’s gift for capturing life has won him numerous competitions at the highest level of professional portrait photography. He has amassed a list of awards which is almost unrivaled in Ireland. He is the current FEP European Portrait Photographer of the Year and Irish Photographer of the Year.
Even though his style has changed over the 16 years he has been a professional, 80 percent of Padraic’s work is still done in the classic black-and-white style he started out with. He uses a Hasselblad H2 camera with a Phase One P20 back, and his favorite lenses are the 210mm and the 120mm macro. He also photographs with a Canon 5D Mark II and likes the 50mm f/1.2 and the 100mm f/2 macro lenses.
With the advances of digital photography, Padraic has seen many changes since his childhood days in the darkroom with his father. He says, “In terms of creativity, there has never been a better time to be a photographer, as there are virtually no limitations but your imagination. Photography is now accessible to everybody and as a professional photographer, I am very aware of this. This also means I’d better be the best I can be, and continually strengthen my style and improve every day or I won’t have a business, period.”
Aside from running their successful studio, Padraic and Sonia (who are raising five children, all under the age of 6) also travel internationally, speaking about their portrait studio business model. They have spoken in Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Padraic is also a firm believer in sharing his knowledge and ideas. “Give everything away and more will come back to you. If you give away everything you have, you’re left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. Somehow, the more you give away, the more comes back to you. Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership. They’re not your ideas anyway; they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating in the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up. And finally, we have to have lots of energy. It is 75 percent of the job. If you don’t have energy, be nice.”
When asked what advice he would offer to aspiring photographers, Padraic says, “Do not seek praise, seek criticism. It is quite easy to get approval if we ask enough people, or those who are likely to say what we want to hear. The likelihood is that they will say nice things rather than be too critical. Also, we tend to edit out the bad so that we hear only what we want to hear. So if you have produced a pleasantly acceptable piece of work, you will have proved to yourself that it’s good simply because others have said so. It’s probably okay. But then it’s probably not great either. If, instead of seeking approval, you ask, ‘What’s wrong with it? How can I make it better?’ You are more likely to get a truthful, critical answer. You may even get an improvement on your idea. And you are still in a position to reject criticism if you think it is wrong. Can you find fault with that?”
Above all this, Padraic’s philosophy is to constantly maintain a high level of excellence in all areas. For him, the most important thing he does as a photographer is capturing something timeless in his portraits. “As our philosophy says, leave a legacy of creative portrait images that will touch people and their families for generations to come,” he says. “We are leaders in our industry with an ever-growing, world-class reputation. Our ability to interact with and capture those natural moments is why our clients recommend us again and again. We will aspire to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Just as his parents did over 20 years ago, Padraic is committed to creating unique photographic art for his clients, continuing to grow in his profession and share his knowledge and talents with others.
To view Padraic’s work go to www.deasyphotographystudio.ie or for information about educational opportunities go to www.padrai
Caresse Muir specializes in family, high school senior and children’s portraits. She has owned her own photography business for 14 years in San Diego. She has been a contributing writer for Rangefinder for over six years.
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