Patrick Ryan Orton, an adventure photographer who loved the natural world and pursued life to the fullest, died July 20. He was 24.
A memorial service will be held 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, at the Stillwater Ranch, 6282 Dufort Road in Sagle. Everyone Patrick touched in his short but remarkable life is invited.
Patrick was born Oct. 16, 1988, to Kristina and George Orton in a home birth in Hayden Lake. He joined one older brother, Liam. When Patrick was a year old the family moved to Sagle, soon building a new home on 40 acres that became Patrick’s playground, pride and joy. Over the years, along with helping in the home construction, Patrick built a two-mile mountain bike track, complete with ladder bridges and obstacles; he also became a master of the rock cairn, using the family’s Bobcat to build oversize, carefully balanced rock art around the property.
When he was 2 years old, he accompanied mom Kristina to visit his grandmother in her hometown on the Isle of Mann, Great Britain. Travel to beautiful parts of the world became an enduring interest as he spent time or traveled to Spain, Mexico, Thailand, Bali, Japan and Panama, as well as numerous forays to Canada and Alaska.
Patrick started his schooling at Cynthia’s Preschool and Kindergarten, subsequently attending Selkirk School, Sagle School and Sandpoint Middle School before graduating with high honors from Sandpoint High in 2007. In high school Patrick was on the AcaDeca team, played varsity tennis and skied in Shep Snow’s Independence Racing Team.
By the time Patrick was 16, skiing became a self-professed addiction and led him into his career. When his mother asked local photographer Chris Guibert to take some shots of Patrick skiing, he became fascinated with the craft of photography and began to pursue it with passion. He began assisting Guibert as he acquired his own equipment.
His love of adventure, the outdoors and photography made a perfect combination. In a biographical note for a professional portfolio, Patrick wrote: “Since a very young age I have felt a deep, indescribable drive to be outside playing in nature. This quickly led me to the conclusion that I wanted to spend my life exploring this giant playground we call Earth… my intent in life is to experience authentic adventures in stunning locations across the globe. Pairing photography with this has allowed me to show the world my unique view while building a career chasing light, action and adventure. I now cannot help but see the beauty of the world in details, composition and light.”
Following high school Patrick studied photography at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Colo. In an initial class of 55, Orton was one of only six to complete the program in two years. He quickly landed a photography position with Vail Resorts, and then worked for two summers with Sandpoint photographer Woods Wheatcroft.
In a short amount of time, his stunning adventure, action and scenic photos have been published in Outside, Mountain Sledder, Mountain Outlaw, Rock and Ice, Powder, Ski, Skiing, National Geographic Adventure and many others. He captured the cover shot for the Summer 2011 Sandpoint Magazine and his story and photos are featured in the current Summer 2013 issue.
Patrick acquired a number of clients for whom he shot on assignment, including Storm Creek apparel, Pepper’s sunglasses Voile ski gear, Sierra Designs, MSN and National Geographic among others. He also gained prominence among peers in various competitions, bagging second place in the 2012 Salt Lake City Shootout and currently with a photo selected as one of the top 250 — from among 26,000 submissions — in the Red Bull Illume contest.
Despite his growing professional success in a demanding and competitive field, Patrick was open and friendly to everyone he found along his path. He became a rare friend to many, and was usually the instigator of adventures — the one who got up early to get outside for a sunrise, pulling his friends with him. His camera was a way to share his love of life and way of seeing the world, as he wrote recently:
“The images I create are a window for others to view my world. They allow me to show people a unique perspective on how I choose to live my life. When you look through these images, think about where I was and how I created that image. My goal is to inspire others to take advantage of every opportunity given to us in this beautiful world.”
See portfolios of his photographs at www.patrickortonphotography.com.
Patrick is survived by his parents, Kristina and George Orton, of Sagle; brother Liam, and his wife Chika and niece Elena of Delhi, India; two uncles, John Brierley of Anacortes, Wash., and Leroy Orton of Grants Pass, Ore.; aunts Angela Dear of Jongny, Switzerland and Linda Jopson of Melbourne, Australia; and many, many friends.
The family is starting a scholarship fund in Patrick’s name; in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Patrick Orton Live Your Dream Scholarship Fund at Wells Fargo Bank in Sandpoint.