June 27th, 2012

Meet One of Our Owners – Patrick & Patricia Bennett

Patrick & Patricia Bennett. Patrick Bennett Photo | Motion in business since 1985

Patrick and Patricia Bennett have been SMCU members since 1997. Patrick’s photography business, Patrick Bennett Photo | Motion, also happens to be one of our Select Employer Groups. Their daughter Nadine is also a member. We had the opportunity to sit down with the Bennetts to learn more about Photo | Motion and their experiences with Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union.

Tell us about your business and why you got into photography.
Blind ambition. Growing up I was in awe of my sister’s ability to draw and paint, but every time I tried it the drawings turned out nothing like what was in my head. A friend loaned me his 35mm camera and, bingo!, I knew I could make the images in my head appear on film. A degree and a few mentors later I realized, while assisting another photographer in Miami shooting the Eastern Airlines Annual Report, that I wanted to shoot photos in as many places on earth as possible. For more than 25 years I’ve been doing exactly that. Assignments have taken me to five continents, and we’ve been fortunate enough to spend a year living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with our daughter.

What is your favorite photography story?
Patrick recounts this story: In 2003 Harley Davidson was throwing a ‘little’ party in Milwaukee to celebrate its 100th anniversary of making iconic motorcycles. A good friend of mine who’s written several books on Harleys offered to trailer my bike from Seattle to Milwaukee. Now I’m no fan of trailering a bike to a rally, but time being an issue, as I was shooting assignments up until the day before, I gladly accepted. I arrived to find my 1991 Harley Sturgis ready for action and rode to the main grounds of the shindig that some 350,000 other bikers were attending, only to find the main entrance to the festivities had several huge, and I mean 20 feet across and 10 feet high, beautiful photographs.

I had to stop and catch my breath because the one on the left was my photo that I took of my wife Patricia on the Harley I bought for her on her 30th birthday. My friends thought I was nuts as I grasped my chest and explained, first to them and then to anyone who would listen, “That’s my wife up there!” “That’s my photo with my wife on the Harley I bought her!” I’m sure a few people within earshot thought I’d been dippin’ into the sauce a little early.

I called Patricia, since she couldn’t make this journey with me, and told her she was certainly there in spirit. While on the phone, I had to ask if the Corbis statement came in – that’s the stock photo agency that represented that image – and it was in that day’s mail, listed right on there! After the rally I spent the next 3,000 miles criss-crossing the states on blue highways all the way home to Seattle, barely escaping the icy roads of Independence Pass, but that’s another story.

Why did you join SMCU?
Well sit down, have we got a story for you.

We moved to Seattle from the Midwest in ’95, and Patrick thought it best to go with a bank of large stature for its branches near and far. We did. After almost 2 years of sending all our business through the bank, not a single bounced check or any bad mark, we tried to get a small loan for a used car and they turned us down flat. No reasons, no one to even ask. Patricia got a little of this “told you so” attitude. She reminded Patrick of the benefits of Credit Union membership and off we went searching for the right one.

In those days regulations were more strict. It was tricky but we were able to gain membership because of our business, Patrick Bennett Photo | Motion. (Later we found out we were a SEG!) So we marched over to the Northgate branch and, a few sheets of paper later, we became members of SMCU. It was like a breath of fresh air. Patricia says she felt lighter on her feet that day.

How long have you been SMCU members?
Since 1997

How has SMCU been there for you as you’ve traveled the world?
Patricia remembers: When we lived in Buenos Aires it was our first introduction to online bill pay. Terrific service! We might not have converted, except for the necessity, and now can’t I imagine sitting down to put ink on checks, let alone stamping them. I don’t even know how we would have kept track of our finances while living abroad without that service!

During that time we accessed our SMCU accounts through ATMs. The system was strange in Argentina, set up so you could only obtain a small amount through each transaction, presumably so that they could collect a fee for each transaction. We talked to other expats who lamented the fees they were charged, but we never paid a single fee at all, nothing, nada the entire year. It’s a mystery to me how international fees work, but I wasn’t about to start asking questions.

How is SMCU different than our competitors?
What? You have competitors? Well, it’s absolutely the people. We just really feel like members, in every sense of the word. The tellers are members too, right? The business environment can be fickle, you’ll have good months and bad, though lately that has stretched to years. We could always count on SMCU to work with us. It truly feels like a mutually beneficial relationship.

How else has SMCU had an impact in your lives?
One of the coolest moments in our relationship with SMCU was when our daughter Nadine won a (Anthony “Tony” Marino) scholarship her Freshman year in college at Western Washington University in Bellingham. That was awesome, timely and very much appreciated.

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