THUNDER BAY -- A graphic designer by education, Patrick Chondon started working part time as a photographer when he returned to Thunder Bay 12 years ago. Unable to find full-time work as a graphic designer, he thought he’d give real estate photography a try - but quickly realized that it wasn’t lucrative. He then had the opportunity to photograph a friend’s wedding and enjoyed it, so he decided to pursue wedding photography.
From there, he branched out into events such as concerts and festivals, portraits, family sessions and graduations. While he still freelances as a graphic designer, Chondon Photography has become a full-time job for him, and he is one of the city’s most popular and prolific photographers.
Getting an early start helped his career, Chondon says. Back then, there were probably fewer than 10 photographers in the city - not like now, where dozens are trying to carve out a place for themselves in an overcrowded field. “It is tough, you have to constantly put your name out there,” he says. “I try to stay relevant. I shoot what I enjoy, and I hope that people resonate with that.”
Even if he is not taking photos for work, Chondon likes to keep his camera close so that he can take photos of whatever catches his eye. “I don’t categorize myself as a specific type of photographer,” he explains. “If I could get paid to just walk around and take photos of the city and urban life in general, that would be my dream. I like wandering the streets, going down back alleys, just seeing different parts of town that people don’t even think to look at.”
Earlier this year, he started hosting photography workshops, where he discusses various aspects of street photography and answers questions before leading the group on a walk to take photos. Chondon hopes to be able to do more workshops in the future, since the groups are small and it can be done outside, with proper social distancing.
Over the past couple of years, he has branched out beyond photos and has been working on videography as well, producing promotional videos for organizations and businesses, as well as short clips of weddings and graduations. “I’d love to explore more short films, focusing on Thunder Bay and its small businesses and promoting them,” he says.