'Sheltering in Place' During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Apr 8, 2020 | By: Kent Barker Studio
Like the rest of you, I am 'sheltering in place" at home...and to say that these are the strangest of times would be an understatement. I have witnessed many unusual events in my 67 years on this earth, but nothing compares to this. Am sending my heartfelt love to all of you out there that are experiencing this along side me. Hang in there, stay safe and know that (as the old saying goes)...this too shall pass. We will get through this!!
With all things both good and bad in life, there can often be found a "silver lining". In this particular case, the silver lining is time. I have been giving lip service to working on my archives for the past year, but day to day work has always seemed to get in the way of any real progress. And now, here I am. Time I have in spades...so I'm making the best of it and diving in with both feet!
The photograph you see above is one of my earliest images. While in college, my mother (who was a travel agent at the time) took my brother and I on a two week trip to Europe. I had just discovered photography and brought along my first ever camera, a 35mm Nikkormat. Seeing cultures I had never before witnessed was such a thrill visually! The experience changed me forever...and set my life long path as a photographer into motion.
I married a few years after that first trip to Europe and shortly thereafter, my wife and I embarked on a month long backpacking excursion to England & Scotland using a Eurail pass. Took the same 35mm Nikkormat with me and photographed like a banshee. Again...it was so much fun!! The image you see above is in the large park below the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.
I moved to Texas in the late 70's and my goal was to become a commercial photographer within the burgeoning Dallas market. At the time, I loved French Vogue and was especially enamored with the work of fashion photographer Guy Bourdin (who was creating game changing ads for Charles Jourdan shoes). The work was highly original and unlike anything else of the day. The above photograph was shot originally as a test and definitely inspired by the Jourdan shoe ads. I borrowed the shoes from Avant (a local store located on lower Greenville) and the model was Nancy Cole, a new addition to the Kim Dawson agency with very long and shapely legs. We worked together for a couple of hours and I tried a number of different poses. Just before we wrapped things up, she leaned over and shook her mane of hair. OMG I yelled...that is our shot!! With my encouragement she did it a few more times and one of those moments hit. Donna, who owned Avant loved the image and ran it in the local fashion rag. Not bad for your first ever ad!!
After working as an assistant for a couple of years, the first studio I actually shot out of was owned by photographer Doug Doering. Doug allowed me to come in as a junior shooter. As such I was allowed to use the studio and the equipment in return for a percentage of all my jobs. Since I was relatively unknown at the time, I didn't have many paying jobs...so the arrangement was a much better deal for me than for him. The space was wonderful however and included an exceptional large box light on a rolling stand. What I did do there was test a lot and those tests began to get me actual work. Tsuki Caspary was a long and lanky model and showed up for our test in a modern dance outfit that included a voluminous white skirt. Meant for dance, the fabric flowed beautifully. We tried many things together and at a point I asked her to throw the fabric up. It looked promising, so we went through about a roll of permutations. This was in the film era, so I would not know if anything great had happened until the film was processed. As you can see, greatness did occur...and this remains one of my favorite images ever!
Am wrapping up this post with a little bit of humor. Have been finding wonderful images...and also some silly ones as I go through my archives. This tongue & cheek shot (pun intended) was found on a forest trail high above the ski valley in Taos. It is a wonderful example of "art within nature" and also a bit of snide commentary on my feelings regarding the coronavirus...i.e; may it soon disappear within a dark hole and never be heard from again.
As always, thank you for taking the time to look at this post. Limited edition prints of all the above images are available from my studio. Please call or email if you are interested.