About Tom Barnes

What made you create Supertography?

I don’t think I’ve ever met a photographer who has got a ‘standard’ journey or route that took them to do what they do. I am certainly no different.

I have worked in aerospace, corporate management and a London based tech start up. All those experiences led me to this point. None was ever going to persuade my subconscious need: to create. Not that I was particularly aware of that at the time.

Photography has been a symbiotic part of my life for 20 years. The apparently ‘less responsible’ side, I often thought, at least career-wise.

It led me to working in many photography specialisms in some capacity: from fashion to events, sport and weddings. Landscape photography was just something I experimented with. Something I did just for me. To unwind and relax. It never had a purpose, other than it constantly drove me to explore: to find a story. Some of my early work starting getting noticed much further afield.

 

What was the ‘wake up’ call to become a landscape and travel photographer?

A friend contacted me with an opportunity to be part of a National Geographic shoot in Peru in 2016. It couldn’t have gone more wrong.

On the day I arrived in Santiago, Chile, I had all of my photography equipment stolen from between my feet. Although it was insured, I’d lost that potentially career making opportunity. But I had discovered something far more important: without my camera I was lost.

This is what I love doing beyond all else. To explore, to create and to share the story.

 

So you’re a black and white photographer?

No. I have a love affair with black and white, but I can’t be monogamous. Some scenes just cry out for colour, and I would be restricting a huge part of what I want to share. Although the process for shooting each, is markedly different, mentally and technically, the post camera work I use does have strong parallels.

I love contrast and the subtle use of tone.  More often than not, you can look at a painting or photograph and know you like it but necessarily identify why. There is huge complexity in that, and it’s the thing that drives me most. To take something less obvious and make you see it in a different way. Sometimes there is no point, other than it’s an incredibly beautiful scene that took my attention. But sometimes there is a point. A story. Something to share about something that isn’t immediately obvious.

Long exposure photography is a technique that I use a lot in my work. There is some real excitement in that for me still: taking an photograph that might require 8 minutes to expose. There is still some of the old magic in that. Like a Polaroid film. It’s a glimpse of a world within a world. And perhaps that’s all I’m trying to do: share a momentary switch of perspective.