A photographer’s journey – James M. Barrett

We’re bombarded by images daily, many of which are superb. Often their creators are not trained or even experienced photographers. Many of them have done – or still do – something completely different for a living. Others do follow a more traditional path and work as freelance or agency photographers. Some have switched from one style of photography to another over the years. Looking at all those images I’ve been asking myself how people get to where they are now.

And I’ve decided to resurrect my tradition of posting mini-interviews with interesting photographers – but this time on video.

For the past few weeks I’ve been asking some London-based photographers about their work, their inspiration – but most importantly, about their journeys. How did they get where they are today? How did they work on their style? Was it a conscious choice or, like many things in life, a happy (or perhaps a more dramatic) coincidence?

The people I’ve asked are my personal choices, photographers I’ve been watching or admiring for a while for various reasons.

The first photographer featured in my new miniseries called “A photographer’s journey” is James M. Barrett. I met James during a monthly photography meet-up in south London and was mesmerised by his unique, very harsh, but also captivating portraits of men of various ages. It turned out that James was not only a photographer, but also an artist and his love for such “ugly beautiful” (or as they are now known ‘harsh beautiful’) portraits stems from his knowledge of and love for old paintings.

James invited me to his studio to record his story and film him taking portraits of two very different ‘models’: writer, Rupert Smith, and DJ, Wes Baggaley. It was a privilege to film James and learn his story. I’m hoping that stories like his will help others appreciate what they are doing and encourage them to explore their talents more.

So here is my first photographer’s journey. And if you’d like to be featured or know someone who would be an interesting subject for the series, do let me know. Next month’s journey features Paul Clarke.

Additional thanks to Lawrence Lang for help with this video.

By Michal Dzierza




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