Paul McDermott is one of Spectrum Miami’s 2021 Spotlight Artist Recipients. Learn more about Paul and his photography below.
Q. Introduce yourself — who you are and what you do?
A. I am Paul McDermott and my brand is Paul is Everywhere. I work with the natural beauty in front of me. My craft leads me to explore the world capturing unique moments in time and space in photographs.
Q. What is your background?
A. Photography is all I’ve ever done and the only career I’ve ever known. I started working at a photo lab when I was 14, studied photography in college, and have worked with some of the top studios and individuals in the world. It was only in the pandemic without the distraction of my steady flow of jobs that I finally made the decision to devote myself to building my fine art brand.
Q. How do you work?
A. My creative process isn’t work. In the words of Einstein “you can treat life as if nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle.” I choose the latter and wander about the world seeing beauty and opportunity in most everything. When I keep my attention out of my head and in the experience actually in front of me, the miracles present themselves and inspiration finds me.
Q. What art do you most identify with?
A. I identify with all art. It’s been my gift and training to look for the greatness in everything and pick out the positive attributes that I appreciate. While a particular style may not be my favorite, I can still love the artist’s intent in the creation process. My dirty little secret is that I’m a photographer by necessity. I loved to draw as a kid but didn’t feel my kinesthetic skills advanced at the rate I wanted so I turned to photography. This experience gives me a deep appreciation for how others create differently than I do.
Q. What artist(s) inspires you?
A. Some of my biggest inspirations are artists of consciousness. Rob James and Susan James, along with their team and the other great masters, are the most amazing creators I know. Learning about consciousness doesn’t just enable me to create better and more deliberately, it clarifies the purpose of what my work is contributing to humanity and how we can make the world a better place.
With tangible artists I am inspired most by the people who strive for greatness and create beyond the scope of what was previously conceivable. Photography wouldn’t be what it is today without Ansel Adams. The MOMA exhibition in the 1950s of The Family of Man is a body of works that has transformed the way I think about life and photography with how closely we are all connected. There are many greats. Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Atget, Arbus. I love the rawness and realness of street photography and documentary work because it’s life as it is. These photographers did it with technical greatness as well (which most photographers miss these days). Edward Burtynsky is one of my great inspirations today. He has an amazing capacity to create beauty and bring attention to present issues in the world. I aspire to push the envelope the way these great photographers have.
Q. What is the best advice you’ve received?
A. When I was young I was debating what to study in college. I was concerned that photography wouldn’t amount to anything so I was considering a more traditional career path. My dad never swore so I remember clearly when he stated, “If you’re going to f*** up at any time in your life, now’s the time to do it.” He told me his biggest regret was listening to the judgments of others and not pursuing his dreams. If I chased my dreams and failed I could always go back to school and create a new career but this opportunity to do what I love would be hard to get back as an adult. Thank you, Dad, for supporting my dreams and success.
Q. When you are not working, where can we find you?
A. When I’m not working, I’m working. Photography is more of a lifestyle for me than a job. If I’m scuba diving I’m often shooting. If I’m traveling it’s with a camera in hand. Hiking, visiting friends and family, always with the intention of creating. I am fortunate to have such supporting people around me – especially my wife who is all too familiar with playing with a light stand to illuminate a portrait or spending 15 minutes hanging out underwater while I maneuver for a better shot of a seahorse. I joke that I work harder on vacation than I do while at home but it’s really the truth. I deliberately chase light trying to catch every sunrise and sunset in a location I feel will opportune a great shot. It’s often the unexpected moments in between that create the magic of my best shots; yet being ready and knowing the shot will reveal itself is 90% of the job.
Q. What does exhibiting at Spectrum Miami 2021 mean to you?
A. Exhibiting as Spectrum is a special opportunity for me. Living in South Florida this show is in my backyard and represents getting exposed to not just more local collectors but also the art community from around the world. Especially given that I opened my gallery mid-pandemic, such a large public exhibition to be discovered is essential for my career.