Carolyn Barber is a self-professed lover of ‘colour, pattern and texture’, and has been shooting creative still life, products and food for the likes of Boden, Marks & Spencer, Oliver Bonas and The White Company across the last 20 years. As a good friend of Teamwork, and a long-time Phase One shooter, we got some insight from Carolyn about her career as a professional photographer.
Tell us about your photography background, Carolyn.
I think this is a difficult question. As a child I was always a very visual learner and loved observing textiles, colour and pattern but didn’t realise this was the start of ‘looking’ as a profession.
I think I really started to take pictures at Art college when I was 17 yrs old. I opted out of A levels and went straight to do a Btec National in Art and Design. My teachers were shocked as I was an A grade student at school, but I knew I wanted to get creating.
My first camera was a Canon A1 and it was great. Totally manual, simple and I learnt the basics with this. After being a ‘Fine Art Photographer’ around Kent for a while – holding exhibitions in Canterbury and Whitstable – I decided I must move to London and become a professional. I assisted Richard Foster, who was my lucky break really. He was an amazing nurturing character, who inspired me and taught me how to light. I loved it and worked silly hours. After 4 years I left the studio and took the plunge. The rest is history and I have been shooting for nearly 20 years in London.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from other artists, furniture, exhibitions, people, books. It’s everywhere really, if you look.
What does your ideal shoot look like, and what could you not live without on set?
My ideal shoot is with a good team and where there is synergy amongst everyone. With these two things in place you always get great results!
I couldn’t live without my wooden blocks that a lovely set builder, John Self, made for me. The blocks are stepped and come in handy all the time, for raising chairs and canvas flats. In terms of camera kit, I couldn’t live without my 120mm Macro lens.
Why do you choose to shoot with digital medium format?
Medium format, for me, is all about handing over work of the highest possible quality.
You upgraded to the IQ3 100MP from a P30+ at the end of last year. What does the new technology offer the work that you shoot, and how does it benefit your workflow?
I love the upgrade to the IQ3 100MP, and the most significant development for me is the ability to work remotely with Live View. I am often up a ladder looking through the lens and navigating a Stylist or Art Director. Now I can work away from the camera, and compose everything from a desk with a coffee!
Do you have any exciting personal or commercial projects planned for this year?
In terms of personal projects, I always shoot my Christmas card with an amazing stylist and friend Susie Clegg, so that’s a given now. I would love to do more personal projects, but with the juggle of children and work this hasn’t happened so much recently. I’ve got some great commercial shoots coming up this year, so watch this space!
Interested in exploring what medium format could do for you? Get in touch with one of the team!