From the fledgling foodie’s gluttonous compositions to the callow coquette showing off in self-portraits for her mirror, it would seem that, thanks to the likes of apps like Instagram, everyone fancies themselves as a photographer - a fact not disputed by actual photographer Matt Barnes. Rather than take a haughty tone on the subject, Matt whole-heartedly approves of the current state of affairs, claiming influence (especially in terms of styling) from these would be shooters; gastronome and teenybopper alike. One would assume that while the playing field may be a little more level, those with both the ideas and the ability to execute them will continue to stand out, but as the subject is often brought up with Matt, we decided to have a little chat about it, all the while showing off a few of his favourite Instagram shots.
The Passing Shot: What are your thoughts on Instagram and the role it plays in the life of a modern photographer?
Matt Barnes: I really enjoy Instagram - in fact, I think it has taken the place of Facebook as my favourite form of social media. As a photographer I often feel insecure about the photos that I take and crave the attention of people “liking” what I do, so if anything it plays the role of an ego boost. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m addicted to it, but I usually post at least one shot a day, and I spend a fair amount of time browsing other peoples photographs as well.
TPS: What, if anything, has it changed about your own work?
MB: I don’t know if it has had an influence on my work, but it has certainly rekindled my love for the snapshot, which being a commercial photographer kind of killed. I used to, especially on road trips, drive around looking for something cool to photograph, but when I stopped carrying a camera around with me all of the time I lost that ability and would just drive on. Now I always have a phone with me, which means I always have a camera, so I can pull over, explore and shoot to my heart’s content - more often than not I immediately upload my discoveries to Instagram. It’s nice to get back into something that I used to enjoy so much when I was simply photographing neat things for a laugh, not just for my career.
TPS: Do you think the instant gratification and the emphasis on quantity has had an impact on storytelling?
MB: Of course, but I don’t feel that most people over-analyze, or perhaps even analyze at all, what they post. Take last week for example; I was in Vegas and I posted a ton of shit - random snaps of our crew having a time - but I didn’t spare a thought for what I was shooting. It wasn’t as if I was putting together a scrapbook or a photo album of the trip, but I did end up telling a great deal of a story to the people who viewed it, never really stopping to think that a few thousand people were watching. When we look back I think Instagram will be remembered as a really powerful visual history book, documenting a time from a few years back, up until it’s simply not cool anymore. I liken it to the Polaroid - in twenty years or so people will look at the images shot on the iPhone 4s and 5s and they will look soft, noisy and generally shitty, but there will be a certain type attracted to that aesthetic and who will try to emulate that kind of look.
TPS: How do you decide what you show on Instragram? Would you ever release a creative exclusively on it?
MB: I guess I show a bit of everything. I feel like there are no rules on Instagram and, even as a professional, I won’t be judged quite as harshly for what I post on there. I tend to simply shoot what’s around me - old cars, cool buildings, nifty things I spot when biking, on-set snaps of jobs I’m working on - but as I went through to gather some images for this post I did start to see a theme developing. Regardless of if I’d do a real creative for Instagram or not, which is something I’m not quite sure about, I do seem to be accumulating a subconscious collection, or a sort of series on it.
TPS: Is it absolutely necessary for a photographer in 2013 to use social media?
MB: I work at a studio full of all sorts of photographers, of all ages, and some do the social media thing and some don’t. It doesn’t seem to bother them and they are as busy as everyone else - besides, when they do partake in it all it doesn’t really suit them. Personally, social media has been a big part of what I do for as long as it’s been around and a fair few of my early breaks came about from my participation in it - I shot Deadmau5 after connecting with him on MySpace, of all places. I am a terrible real-life networker - I’m a fairly shy guy, I hate crowds and I rarely go out, so sharing and schmoozing on the computer is comparatively easy.
Ride the jump for more Insta-Matt, and follow along with his
addiction shenanigans right here.
Matt has been privileged enough to work with director/producer/raconteur Mark Myers on several occasions (namely through Mark’s role at MuchMusic), so when he approached Matt about shooting the poster for his documentary film, Delivery, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. The film, to quote Mark, is “hovering between production and post-production,” and justifiably he’s turned to fundraising site Kickstarter for a little help finishing it off - he’s quite nearly there as well, with just over a thousand dollars left to dig up in the next three days. Have a peek at the work-in-progress that is the trailer, and hopefully you’ll feel philanthropic enough to throw some support his way!
Matt’s second encounter with the lassie known as Lights was, ironic as it sounds, decidedly darker than the first time around. Older (slightly), wiser (surely) and blonder (conspicuously), the artist formerly known as Valerie Anne Poxleitner’s vivid vibe contrasted an otherwise aphotic affair, while her natural effervescence was highlighted through the help of stylist Sonia Torsan and MUA Robert Weir.
Thankfully Lights’ radiance wasn’t lost in the shadows of the shoot, but it certainly wasn’t helped by the inclusion of an animal associated with the dark arts - a bird of different feather - Ruby, a Eurasian Eagle Owl, appreciatively provided by Hands On Exotics. For more of Lights, Ruby and several sinister still-life shots, click through the jump, and be certain to pick up Lights’ acoustic version of her album Siberia, out on April 30th.
José Bautista, the Jays’ blue-ribbon bats-man, is no stranger to this space, having previously appeared on the Passing Shot in a spread for Sharp Magazine. His reappearance is equally as rakish, but his surroundings have shifted from the cold comforts of the Rogers Centre to the warmth of a Grapefruit League diamond in Florida - perhaps a background best befitting a man from Santo Domingo. All in the name of the venerable Harry Rosen…
We’re just the two-shot-spot today, but check back later in the week for the first-look at a new Matt Barnes creative, one which features a radiant Canadian songstress alongside a bevy of bestial beauties.
Man-about-town Matt Barnes stopped by Toronto’s Blk Box on Saturday evening for an impromptu shoot with Glaswegian disco dee-jay Al Kent, who was in town for a party with locals Cyclist and A Digital Needle. Mr. Kent, known for his rare finds and disco compilations, was making his North American debut and kicked off the Keeps Diggin’ series of parties at one of Toronto’s coolest new spots. The next disco jam at Blk Box is on June 1st, and is headlined by former Dr. Dre & Kanye sample digger Kon, but if you can’t wait that long to get your disco fix, drop into a Beam Me Up party at the Piston, any second Saturday of the month.
Matt’s affinity for trains has been well documented on this very blog (evidence), so when given the opportunity to combine said affinity with tangible, remunerative work, Matt was naturally, erm, all aboard.
Stepping out on the York-Durham Heritage Railway and taking style cues from our very own slice of Canadiana in Festival Express, Matt and euphonious ensemble the Treasures combined for what surely is a genuine photographic representation of their brand of soulful, down home and roots-tinged rock n roll. Thanks to Natalia Zurawska for her hair and makeup handicraft, as well as Chase Cohl for her support with styling. Ride the rails past the jump for all of the shots in the series, as well as a bit of moving imagery from behind the scenes.
Not a second wasted with that bloke Matt Barnes, who was knocking about balmy Las Vegas scouting locations for a yet to be disclosed upcoming project, and decided to ring up (read - tweet) new age pinup star Sabina Kelley. Sabina was an ideal model for Matt, possessing the sort of retro styling with a modernistic approach that mirrors his own photography - the fit was nothing short of natural. Taking to what one could call a “shitty old motel” on the strip, Matt & Sabina, alongside her photogenic progeny (including son Kaiden, who is pictured above), went to work, and the results are a nice slice of glam, with the animal print outfit giving off the right amount of the bestial. Having previously modelled for the masterful David LaChapelle with the rest of his family, Kaiden was certainly not shy in front of the camera; he is a slightly studlier chip off the ol’ block!
Be sure to ride the jump for all the vivaciousness from Vegas…