For Kansas City native Bridget Patton, she says photography saved her life in the best way possible. At 22-years-old her passion sparked but her vivid imagination has been present since birth. Patton knew she was made to stand out from the rest.
“I was a weird kid growing up, very imaginative. You could put me down with crayons and I would prefer those over people,” said Patton. “Everybody’s unique in their own way and we’re all sort-of a mystery.”
Today, 35-year-old Bridget uses her own uniqueness in a world that she has created to help magnify Kansas City’s rich history and beauty.
Through trial and error, Patton taught herself everything about photography. She began with the basics of portrait photography, to metal printing, to photo-wood transfers. “Photo-wood transfers is what I specialize in today,” Patton said.
“I knew I had to find something different than portrait photography. I did not want to make a career out of portrait photography and I was always fascinated by photo-wood transfers so I taught myself. I sand all of the wood to make the surface smooth, then I personally transfer all of the images onto wood, then finished with a protective coating. It is a very delicate and tedious process. I’m literally rubbing the paper off and that’s where some of the distress and variance of the wood grain comes from,” Patton said. “To make each piece different.”
What makes Patton’s work come to life is the stories and nostalgia behind each photo all with a Kansas City sentiment through the use of staples in the Kansas City community such as the iconic Western Auto building, the J.C. Nichols Fountain and Union Station, just to name a few.
“I found that people really like the Kansas City work I do since I love to photograph abandoned buildings. Kansas City natives have an attachment to certain buildings or a story. I’ve had customers grab a certain piece of mine and they’ll say “My dad used to work here” or “We got engaged here”. Everybody has this nostalgic tie and it’s really cool,”, Patton said. “One customer even bought a piece of mine to ship to her friends in Germany to reminisce.”
Patton adds that her favorite piece of work that she has done so far is a vintage airplane at the downtown Kansas City airport. “I have a photo of the downtown airport and there is this old airplane, I shot it through this fence, and so I have the Broadway bridge in the background with the downtown skyline. That piece is my favorite because it’s layered so it looks like an old photo,” Patton said. “Through my work and passion, I hope to capture the spirit of Kansas City.”
Patton also captures the spirit of herself in her work through her eye for character. She has multiple personal pieces of handwritten sayings and quotes that she says inspire her to be the best artist she can be.
“There’s a universe inside your heart. It’s a place of pictures and passions, songs and sorrows. It’s the story of all your endeavors, the moments that mark time. It’s everything you are and it’s a beautiful mystery.”
When it comes to her future, Patton says miraculous things can happen because she believes that they will and credits her positive upbringing by her parents, Alan and Maureen.
“My dad definitely did teach me all about the power of thought and the power of manifestation when I was young. He told me that you can create any life you want if you believe it and that there are infinite possibilities,” Patton said.
Her work can be found on Etsy under “fotaj” and in Restoration Emporium on The Country Club Plaza and West Bottoms. Customized pieces can be requested.
Words: Ellen Leinwetter | Photos: Ellen Leinwetter & Bridget Patton