Graphic design major Spencer Paddock was just a kid when he first picked up a camera he found on his father's desk, an act that has led him to intern with a Hollywood director of a multimillion-dollar film.
Interviewed recently for Ezra, an online magazine based in Australia, he said, "I was a shy kid... this device gave me a voice that I was sometimes too shy to let out. After I realized this, I was in love. I started researching and trying to figure out what all I could do with it."
People noticed, and the positive responses he received from his photographs changed his life, boosted his confidence and pushed him to be who he really was. It gave a voice to his perspective on life. "If I'd never picked up a camera," he said, "who knows, I may still be that shy boy with nothing to say."
Paddock has been shooting pictures since before he started high school. But at USI, his perspective on his craft began to change. Until then, he didn't consider his photos art. "When I started taking design classes, my professors told me, 'Spencer, your photography design is graphic design with objects. You need to position these objects to create beautiful compositions.'"
Championed and guided by professionals, Paddock was encouraged to consider ways to design his photographs so they were more graphically-oriented compositionally. He realized photography was more than "just clicking a button and taking pretty pictures. [My professors] helped me realize photography...is deeper than that. That's a big part of the culture of USI. Everyone is rooting for you all the time."
At 22, Paddock is already a successful, self-employed photographer with clients in the entertainment industry (particularly Nashville, Tennessee-based Christian rock bands), and his talents have led him all the way to Hollywood this summer.
The road to Tinsel Town began in Newburgh, Indiana, when he applied for a job on the set of Back in the Day, a movie filmed there in 2012.
"One of my friends told me that Michael Rosenbaum was coming here to film a big-budget Hollywood movie." Rosenbaum, a Newburgh native, is a successful actor and director best known for his role as Lex Luthor in the television series Smallville.
When he learned of the opportunity, he said, "I thought it would be cool to get involved with that—maybe be a production assistant and get coffee for people." But that didn't happen. Instead, she replied saying, "We heard you are a photographer, and we want to interview you for a job as a still photographer."
A still photographer captures the action of the movie in photographs that are later used for posters and advertisements, Paddock said. It was a break he hadn’t expected. He went to the interview and two hours later, he said, "She texted me and said, 'You have the job.'"
During filming, Paddock's interaction with Rosenbaum was limited, but after it was complete, Rosenbaum took Paddock under his wing. "Anywhere I go with him, he says I am his little brother. He is trying as much as he can with all the connections he has in the industry to help me get jobs and work in films."
This summer, while shadowing a Hollywood director, Paddock also will be working on commercials, an opportunity that came from his association with Bradley Stonesifer, cinematographer for Back in the Day. In August, he'll return to USI to complete his degree. Then, he'll decide whether to build his career in Los Angeles or Nashville.
Photo: Spencer Paddock gets in the scene after the crew and actors wrapped up production for the day while filming Back in the Day in Evansville and Newburgh, Indiana. (Left to right back row) Isaiah Mustafa, Kristoffer Poloha, Michael Rosenbaum, Harland Williams. (Front center) Spencer Paddock.
Learn more about photography and graphic design degree programs at USI on our website - or call USI Admission at 800-467-1965.