Icon with a Nikon: Patrick McMullan

By Nicole Kotovos and Bettina Zilkha


 Pictures are my memory. It’s not about having to publish photographs. It’s about having them for myself.

With five books out and one on the way, a television show and his website, www.patrickmcmullan.com, which gets millions of hits a week worldwide, Patrick McMullan has mastered the world of socialite and celebrity photography. Patrick and his team of photographers are always there, enhancing every party, catching every moment. His attendance is always desired, and often required, as he is always in good spirits and has the most amazing social skills. No one is ever left on the sidelines at a Patrick Party: he will make sure to grab you and introduce you either to your new best friend, business partner, or future fling.

Bettina and I recently caught up with Patrick at the luncheon he hosted with Jaguar at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Nicole: Who is your favorite subject?
Patrick: My son, Liam, whom I love so much. He is now 18 and the great thing is I have pictures of his whole life.

Nicole: Who were your mentors?
Patrick: I had a lot of contemporaries but as far as mentors…..Andy Warhol, who taught me to always have a camera and the late photographer Terry Stevenson who I worked for as an assistant while at NYU, studying marketing.

Nicole: How do you feel without your camera?
Patrick: I am always working, so it is weird not to have a camera. Pictures are my memory. It’s not about having to publish photographs. It’s about having them for myself.

Nicole: Who is Patrick the photographer?
Patrick: Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality. When I worked in the dark room, I could stay for hours all alone, printing; now, it’s similar when I do my editing, I become such an introvert. When shooting I am such an extrovert, because I don’t just shoot, I put out a lot of effort into my work I don’t just socialize with my subjects, I often orchestrate the action..

Nicole: You have a reputation of being the best social ice breaker, always making people comfortable and introducing them to their next best person. How do you explain this?
Patrick: I always look to promote good feelings. My intentions are good and I only mean well, so I think with that attitude the right relationships happen.

Nicole: You are a world renowned photographer and so well established. Where is Patrick going from here?
Patrick: Well, I’d like to do more print-making, do more television stuff, and make more photo books. I would also like to encourage my associates in their work. I want to keep fine-tuning my website.

Nicole: If you were to give advice to other photographers, what would it be?
Patrick: The main thing is to always have a camera on you – I mean, always. You should also always have a business card.

Bettina: You have been involved in and very generous to a lot of charities, how do you choose which ones to support?

Patrick: The ones that ask me is a good start…

Bettina: You have achieved the impossible by being universally liked and sought after by everyone who knows you. How have you managed to survive, succeed and stay on top of the New York scene since the 1980s in such touch waters to navigate?
Patrick: Not easily, but I try to be a nice guy.

Bettina: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Patrick: Watching TV.

Bettina: Do you have another book project in the works?
Patrick: Yes, I’m doing a book called Glamour Girls, which is photos of my favorite girls all dressed up.

Bettina: I hear you were in a movie recently, and your show Full Frontal Fashion, Party Flash, really showcases your talent on film. I have even heard it said that you are becoming more and more like a movie star. How does it feel to have the camera turned on you?
Patrick: A little bit strange, but fun. I’m a regular Brad Pitt.
Bettina: You sure are.

Bettina: I see you are growing a beard, is it a spiritual thing?
Patrick: No, it’s a lazy thing!

Bettina: What do you love about life?
Patrick: Meeting people, trying to improve the world around me, capturing the beauty I see everywhere, enjoying my friends and family – and watching TV.