Desert Is­land DSLR

Mandy Barker Fine art photographer and speaker

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

Fine-art photographer Mandy Barker shares her thoughts

Which photographer(s), liv­ing or dead, would you like to have round for din­ner? Jean Pain­levé, Man Ray and Shomei To­matsu.

What’s your favourite place on Earth? Spurn Point near Hull: a nar­row three mile-long spit that’s now a na­ture re­serve home to rare birds, deer and marine life. I’ve grown up vis­it­ing this place and have seen it change.

How would you de­scribe your own pho­tog­ra­phy?

Con­cep­tual. My main aim is to raise aware­ness and ed­u­cate peo­ple about plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the world’s oceans, high­light­ing the harm­ful ef­fect on marine life and, ul­ti­mately, on our­selves.

What per­sonal project are you cur­rently work­ing on?

A project to rep­re­sent new sci­en­tific re­search into the plas­tic fi­bres from cloth­ing be­ing found in the bod­ies of fish.

What makes a good sub­ject to pho­to­graph?

Any­thing that stops you in your tracks, moves you emo­tion­ally, or is some­thing you want to let oth­ers know about. What ac­ces­sory or gad­get should ev­ery photographer own?

A re­flec­tor, to be able to work with light.

City or coun­try?

City for ex­hi­bi­tions and peo­ple; coun­try for space and re­flec­tion.

Which lens would you be most up­set to lose?

The lens in my eye.

What was your first cam­era? Cos­mic Sym­bol, and I still have it.

What’s the most ex­pen­sive piece of kit you’ve ever bought?

My Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Tell us a se­cret about your pho­tog­ra­phy. I have been ob­sessed with pho­tog­ra­phy as far back as I can re­mem­ber, and in the early 1990s I was en­tranced with the work of the French photographer Robert Dois­neau, so I wrote him a let­ter. Never hear­ing back from him, he sadly died, but a few years later the let­ter was re­turned, un­opened, and cov­ered with ad­dresses from all over Paris where it had been for­warded around for five years. I of­ten think about its jour­ney over that time.

What’s in your kit bag right now?

My DSLR and one lens – I don’t of­ten use much else. If I wanted to cre­ate work that I felt was best rep­re­sented on film, I have 35mm and medium-for­mat cam­eras such as Bron­ica and Mamiya. The cam­era is only a tool: it is more im­por­tant to first think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Which book should ev­ery photographer make sure they read?

Ways of See­ing by John Berger.

What words of wis­dom can you give to as­pir­ing pho­tog­ra­phers?

Try to be­lieve in your­self and what you are do­ing. I’ve pho­tographed only marine plas­tic de­bris for the past eight years. This is a long time to fo­cus on some­thing so spe­cific, but I have done this be­cause I be­lieved in the is­sue and felt it was a story that needed to be told.

Any re­grets?

That I of­ten don’t have the courage to speak to peo­ple I would re­ally like to have a con­ver­sa­tion with. Although I can speak con­fi­dently about my work and the is­sue I rep­re­sent, per­son­ally I’m a very shy per­son, and I have missed op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause of this.

And fi­nally… What is your Desert Is­land DSLR?

This ques­tion is ironic, be­cause in June I will visit a real desert is­land as part of a re­search ex­pe­di­tion to de­ter­mine the ef­fect that marine plas­tic de­bris has on such an en­vi­ron­ment, so I’m ac­tu­ally now con­sid­er­ing what equip­ment to take to the mid­dle of the South Pa­cific!

De­pend­ing on my re­search and ideas, I will be tak­ing a medium-for­mat film cam­era and my Canon 5D Mark III to record the trip. See Mandy’s work dis­played with East Wing Gallery at Photo Lon­don, 17-20 May, and at the Tri­en­nial of Pho­tog­ra­phy Ham­burg from 7 June

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