We grab a quick chat with globetrotting photographer and director Tom Barnes on everything from dream shoots to nightmare jobs
Image by Tom Barnes
Wex Photo Video: Tell us about the image that got away?
Tom Barnes: I’ve never missed a shot… that’s the answer we all want to give, right?
I think I’ve missed a few, maybe my favourite ‘shot’ I missed was when I was first starting out – I was shooting a band about 15 years ago and didn’t have a massively wide lens. So I kept shifting further back until I fell backwards into a lake, camera and everything. The band were a bit shocked!
WPV: What’s the worst shooting experience you’ve ever had?
TB: Over the years I have been lucky to only work with great clients, so I’ve actually not yet had a nightmare client story. I think the worst shooting experience, from a conditions point of view, has got to be a recent project shot in the desert – my assistant and I were battling 40º heat, sandstorms and 30mph winds. It may not sound too bad, but when you are trying to light people with a big softbox and keep sand/hair out of their faces, it becomes an absolute bleeding nightmare!
I’ve got a new project being shot in August on rubbish dumps and I can almost guarantee that will be my worst shooting experience going forward! Thirty-five degree heat and 90% humidity – can’t wait.
WPV: Tell us about your dream shoot?
TB: Here’s where I sound awfully cliché, but I’m doing a lot of my dream jobs currently – working around the globe and meeting really interesting people. I guess if I could have my full dream job it would be a six-month mega-commission across the world, showing typical life in each location.
WPV: What’s your editing pet peeve?
TB: There seems to be a real trend online (mainly on Instagram) for people to really smooth out skin and make people look utterly plastic. I know this has been going on a while but I’m surprised it hasn’t calmed down yet! There seems to be this influencer clique who do it a huge amount. Natural is best!
WPV: What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done to get the shot?
TB: I went to an active war zone? I’ve hung off the sides of boats, almost been blown off the roofs of skyscrapers by gale-force winds, and shot from open-sided helicopters. I’ll always go above and beyond – people are often a little surprised. For example, on a posh shoot for the Team GB Paralympic Rio campaign for 2016, I ended up swimming with Charlotte Henshaw to get the shot.
I guess some people might find my personal shoots ridiculous – I fly myself out to these places at great cost to do the shoots and never know what I am going to come back with. I guess some people might think that risk is ridiculous!
Tom on a shoot
WPV: Smartphones have made everyone a photographer. Do you agree?
TB: Nope, put the two side by side and compare – clearly the camera wins every time, especially if you are doing anything with the file other than posting to social media! With that said, the best camera is the one you have with you – I truly believe this – and that’s why I carry a little Fuji camera everywhere with me so I can always get nice shots. Sometimes I’ll use my phone and shoot Raw in the Lightroom app – I do always get surprisingly good results.