#MediaMonday – Patrick Breen

Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Arizona Republic staff photographer and videographer Patrick Breen.  Patrick is the 2021 winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Nick Oza Photojournalist of the Year Award, the second time he has won the prestigious honor.  He was also the 2019 photographer of the year and 2016’s sports photographer of the year.

Patrick, time to share:

I am honored to have my name next to Nick Oza’s once again. He was a mentor and a close friend. He would often call me his over-exposed brother. Earning this award has meant so much because it just feels like another chance for me to honor his name. I carry a wallet picture of him with me every day and I know that he is watching over Arizona just like he did when he was alive.

I’ve been at the Arizona Republic since 2012 and have been an adjunct professor at Arizona State University since 2015, where I have taught Photojournalism I, Photojournalism II and Documentary Photography. I am proud to take many of the skills that the Republic and Nick taught me and try to share with the future photographers of the world. I currently help that with their Hearst submissions, a college competition I competed at when I was young. Last year ASU placed second nationally for photo and I couldn’t be more proud.

I am a failed athlete. In high school all I wanted was to be a sports star, but I was not able to make those dreams come true. But putting a camera in my hand still allowed me to be on the sideline so I started shooting. After the first few games I started carrying a camera everywhere. I worked for the high school newspaper. Then the college newspaper. Then I interned everywhere from a small paper with a subscription of a few thousand (where I would sweep the floor and lock up the doors at night) to larger papers like the Lincoln Journal Star and Arizona Republic.

My favorite three photos are all over the place. My first is of Devin Draper throwing his arms out wide during a Black Lives Matter Protest in 2016. For me it feels really symbolic of the time. My second would probably be the Hail Murray catch from DeAndre Hopkins in 2020. It’s my first photo that really got noticed on a wider stage. It reminded me that I do belong at a time when I was starting to doubt. The thing about being a photographer is there is always someone that’s better at you. You work with some of the most talented people in the world, from at your own newspapers to Getty, AP and USA Today, so a lot of doubt can creep in. My last photo would be one that’s not on my website. It’s of my wife and newborn child. I took it at the hospital a few moments after he was born. She is the strongest person I know and he is my best friend. I look back on it often to remind myself what all the grind is for.

When I’m not shooting, I’m at home with my wife and child, Kai. He is three years old and has unlimited energy so we are playing sports, chasing pigeons or taking naps to kids shows on the couch. I’m extremely lucky to have both of them. Bringing it back to Nick, I remember how important he told me family was. That when you’re young you’ll often put on the backburner to chase photojournalism. He told me not to. He told me to hold my family closer than I could imagine because life passes so quickly. And I take that to heart. I also play basketball once or twice a week trying to keep the last dying hopes of a sports career alive. On Sundays I’m up at 6 a.m. to go “Hoop with the Fellas,” a group of Suns twitter friends who have become like family over the last year and a half. They let me miss bunnies and burn layups and don’t even rag on me for it, so I appreciate that.

Back at home, my wife and I are movie-obsessed so we go to theatres about once a week. Before Kai we would use the Movie Pass or AMC A-List to go to three or more a week. My wife and I watched 321 movies in 2018 which was our record. That’s about the oddest fact about us. She leans more Marvel/Superhero movies and I lean more Sci-Fi/fantasy. Kai leans more Scooby Doo, but he can sit through a whole movie in theatre at age 3, so we feel he’s gonna develop the taste as he gets older.

I’m extremely lucky to work at the Arizona Republic. It took a chance meeting, a missed interview and a leap of faith to find my way out here, but I’ve loved every second of it since. I grew up in Nebraska, but I’ve found my home in Arizona. I found a community I love and I can’t say thank you enough to my bosses that brought me here and to the community for opening its arms to me. I’m blessed and I know it.

You can follow me on Twitter and check out my website.

Written by
at Jan 23, 2023

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