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Profile: Patrick Reilly
Story by Andrew Kiraly and
Photography by Beverly Poppe
World traveler, photographer, lawyer
• Local attorney Patrick Reilly took his first overseas trip as a kid, when his dad set up an almost punishingly whirlwind tour of Europe. “It was one of those American Express tours where you’re hitting 14 countries in 18 days, which is great, but it’s way too much and you’re exhausted by the end.” But he really discovered his penchant for adventure when he took a school trip to France — and quickly ditched the class and went out on his own. “The teachers trusted me and I spoke the language pretty well, so I was kind of unsupervised, which was a blast. That’s where I learned how much fun it is to see how people are really living. The tourist thing is fine, but I prefer to see how the locals live. I like to go somewhere and really experience it.”
• Travel tip? “Plan your trip — but not too much. You want to be flexible,” says Reilly. Case in point: When in Iquitos, Peru, in 2012, Reilly and family attended Sunday Mass, which happened to be hosting dozens of high school students from around the country. Reilly and his family tagged along for the next leg of the high schoolers’ trip: the zoo. “We literally walked out of Mass, hopped on a bus and spent the day with 100 high school students from all over. It was one of the best days because it was such a great surprise.” (Meanwhile, to minimize unpleasant surprises, he swears by Rick Steves’ travel guides. “They’re invaluable for saving both time and money.”)
• Close calls? He’s had a few. On a 2007 trip to Kaktovik, Alaska, he was photographing the polar bears that gather to feast on the discarded bones from the annual whale hunt. The guide warned everyone that polar bears are stealth animals, which sounded absurd — until they realized one had sneakily sauntered up to their vehicle. “The bear wasn’t threatening or angry, but it was definitely unsettling,” he says. “He had this expression on his face like, ‘You guys got any sandwiches in there?’” (You can see this pic — and countless other outtakes from Reilly’s travels — at 500px.com/mcribcombo.)
• Here’s a work perk that suits Reilly’s globe-trotting lifestyle: At Holland & Hart LLP, where he practices as a business attorney, partners get a paid, three-month sabbatical every five years. “People come back refreshed and recharged saying, ‘I can’t wait for the next one,’” he says. His inaugural sabbatical kicks off in June. Not surprisingly, Reilly plans to spend a lot of that free time on the road. “We’re going to rent a car and just drive around Europe.” See? Not too much planning. (Though photographing the White Cliffs of Dover is on his bucket list.)
• His world travels, Reilly says, have made him more accepting and understanding — not to mention more adventurous. “I grew up in the Midwest, in a lily-white suburb of Chicago where everybody was the same, the food was the same,” he says. “The idea of exotic food in Palatine was Taco Bell.” He’s also learned that there are a few things that are universal — such as teen angst. He notes that his photo collection is brimming with smiling children, smiling adults, but the adolescents always look glum. “I’ve learned that no matter where you are, teenagers are universally ticked off at the world.”
• If world travel isn’t in your budget or schedule, Reilly says our own Southwest backyard has more than its share of exotic locations — he finds himself visiting and shooting there often. “There’s a reason the rest of the world comes here to visit — because there’s some amazing stuff nearby: the Grand Canyon, Utah, Valley of Fire, Red Rock. It’s unbelievable. If you’ve got three kids, get a camper and go explore.”
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