"The Human Form"
Alan Barnett Photography
A Different Lens Magazine is pleased to share this interview featuring the exceptional work of New York City based photographer, Alan Barnett. Alan has built a successful photography business that serves many nonprofit organizations and helps them carry out their missions with photos of their events and documenting how they help to make the world a better place. This work supports his personal art photography project that brings together a diverse community of models, actors, dancers, and others to celebrate the human form.
Alan, tell us how did you get into photography?
I’ve run my own graphic design business since 1992. About 14 years ago, I took up photography as a hobby. The leap to professional photography was mostly a matter of investing in equipment and mastering the technical aspects, as I was already an expert at composition and had lots of experience art directing other photographers. I began offering photography to my current clients, mostly shooting events, and I used the experience to branch out into other fields including portraiture and interiors.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a means to edit my world into fragments, that when removed from the larger environment, speak even greater truths. With my camera, I explore both familiar and unfamiliar worlds, relating with people and places to gain an understanding of the harmony and discord that combine to create engaging images. I aim to separate subject and content to explore their relationship or the friction that may at times result in unforeseen meaning. Photography can lead viewers to create their own narratives as the work uncovers hidden emotions and touches on universal experiences which bring them to alternate interpretations. Photography can reflect viewers onto themselves as complex individuals, as the photographer is revealed in the process of creating images.
How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
I set my intention for a desired outcome but remain open to unforeseen possibilities. I thrive on spontaneity, and I consider all my work to be a collaboration with the subject. Sometimes I need to give a lot of direction to my model, but most often we thrive off each other’s creativity and end up making work better than my original intention.
How would you describe your photographic style to viewers that are new to your work?
My style is bold and asymmetric with saturated colors, strong contrast, and moody lighting.
What motivates you to be the best photographer you can be?
I’m motivated by the interpersonal interaction with my subjects, whether shooting an event for a client or one-on-one with a model in my studio for my art project. Equally as motivating is the joy my clients and subjects express when they see the great photos we’ve made together.
How do you make people feel comfortable in front of your lens?
In the studio we relax. We breathe. We chat. We get to know each other so the shoot feels like friends having fun. That breaks down inhibitions and results in the subject feeling and looking great. At an event, I smile a lot. I find that makes others feel good, relaxes them, and they spontaneously smile back without thinking about it.
*Portrait of Alan Barnett by Steven Rosen Photography.