Local photographer Pat Cray aka Painkiller, is telling the story of our city one photo at a time. With photos that capture the essence of the Queen City, whether through architecture or through profiles of the good neighbors that make up our blocks, his work is proving to be a hallmark to our city for years to come. To the untrained eye, his photos leave a haunting impression, with many photos being taken in elements that for other photographers might be unideal; take for example his frequent use of foggy and dark weather.
By capturing the darkness, he is also bringing to light places and people that may have otherwise remained unseen. To fellow photographers and those with a trained eye however, he is a spectacular artist that holds tenaciously to the fundamental basics of “good photography.” Things like composition, continuity, form, texture, and color are present in every photograph taken; while I am no expert in this field, it is no stretch to say his work teeters on the cusp of transcendently impressive and excellent.
To see this city through the eyes of Painkiller means to see familiar places in an entirely new light (literally) and watch the story of our special community played out right before our very eyes.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background as an artist?
I am Pat Cray (Creative name Painkiller), I am a photographer/ photojournalist from Buffalo NY that specializes in portraiture and cityscape photography. I started taking pictures on my cellphone years ago and just recently (January 202) got a camera and stepped into the professional field of photography after years of DJing and playing music around the city of Buffalo, NY.
Why photography as your medium?
I chose to make photography my main outlet as a creative after years and years of trying to find my voice and show my creativity. I find it so much easier to do that by showing this city in my eyes. I have learned the city intimately from years of year-round cycling after I stopped driving and being a skateboarder. I just know that our city has so much to offer, and I felt as though I could share that through photos that trigger nostalgic feelings for the viewer.
What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/ what type of style do you lean more toward?
I would say that I am a mix of everything from fine art photography to a mix of photo journalism of our city. I mix a lot of different styles, but I am well known for my ability to capture the city and people in it at night.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the realm of photography?
My biggest inspiration as an artist as a whole is from 3 artists. One being Todd Hidoand his works of houses at night. Another is Vuhlandes with his portraiture and his ability to capture his community of Detroit. And lastly Leland Fosterwith his abilities as a cityscape and night photography master, with his compositional skills and his ability to paint and animate his photographs.
Who are some local photographers you are most inspired by?
I really have learned a lot from 2 main local photographers. Teo David and my good friend that goes by the creative name Rawdeadfish both capture images on the same camera body as I do (Sony A7II). But I admire everyone that is a photographer here in Buffalo.
Would you say that living in Buffalo has helped cultivate your art in any way?
Oh of course. I think that without me living here I would not have anywhere near the eye that I have. This city and the surrounding areas have a distinct look that you can only get in a small rustbelt city. I think that my upbringing has helped mold me into the photographer that I am today also. With being a skateboarder, you learn so much about this city and you meet so many people. Then mixing that with the music scene, Street Art and Graffiti scenes. It has helped me be the artist that I am today.
What’s your biggest struggle you are facing right now as a photographer?
Honestly trying to make the next steps from being just an “Instagram photographer” to making the steps into being more of a recognized photographer and having my works on exhibit in art galleries and for campaigns for major brands.
What kind of stories are you hoping to tell as an artist?
My hopes are for people to be able to tell the human in a city or set space story.
What are some of your future aspirations with your art?
I really want my work to grow more on a technical level and possibly get more funding behind me to push more for travel and so that I can pay for exhibits
Any future shows people should be on the lookout for?
Actually, I just got some good news – I’ll be having my exhibit that I showed at Silo City shared at Hallow Studios – 523 Main Street – for First Friday on July 8, 2022!
Follow Pat on Instagram @yungpainkiller to stay up to date on all his future endeavors- something you most definitely won’t want to miss.