I think this could be one of the most important sets of images I’ve taken

Picture of John, why is it so important?

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Turn back the clocks a couple of years, I was a music photographer solely shooting musicians, no problem there but I felt there was something missing, something creative and fun, work had started to feel a little too much like work. I had started reading about ‘personal work’ from photographers, projects shot on the photographers own clock and non-commission based work, I had normally discarded it not really having time for it and never really shot much if any personal work!

The time came where I wanted more than just photographing musicians, I’d enjoyed every shoot but I didn’t want them to become formulaic and I wanted to broaden my photographic horizons! I started reading more into personal work and trying to justify the time/effort etc to do these on my clock. Until this point I’d charged for all my commissions and was busy to the point of exhaustion – a great place to be but wouldn’t it be good to go out and shoot some things that I wanted to shoot, some work that was completely off brief?

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Turns out yes, it was! The reason this series of images is so important to me is that they were the first proper piece of personal work I shot. It felt fantastic to be going back to shooting photographs for fun but just with a lot more technical skill and experience than I used to have!

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I contacted John, we set a date, we shot and I sent him prints (which are currently framed in his house) after the shoot I entered it into the Taylor wessing prize, it didn’t win but it did get accepted into the salon de refusé of Portrait Salon, it was a boost and I think one that I needed!

It spurred me on, it gave me a real boost and it gave me something different for my portfolio, I’m now shooting a huge amount of personal work, it keeps me thinking and it’s changed my attitude towards work commissions as well. I always loved my job but never shot for fun, now I do both and could not be happier!

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I think this could be one of the most important sets of images I’ve taken, and I would strongly suggest to other artists no matter what the medium to get out and shoot more personal work, turns out what we do is great fun!

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All images were taken on my old Mamiya medium format, I also used Profoto B1 lights

About Tom Barnes

“I’m obsessed with photography, have been since I first got my hands on a camera at the age of 5. It’s the fascination of trying to capture something as I see it that intrigues me the most. I started teaching myself at 14 after saving money from paper rounds and odd jobs to afford old tutorial books from charity shops, I then put what I read to the test though years of trial and error on my dads old film cameras."

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