Interview with Clifton Barker / street photographer, flash lover
Where do you live and what are you doing down there?
I currently live in Houston, Texas. I just moved (literally this last weekend) from Austin. I’m still adjusting, Houston is a huge sprawling city, most people drive everywhere–so I’m trying to find new ways to take photos on the street. Austin had so many advantages for my style of shooting, the downtown area is congested enough that people would walk everywhere for a few blocks, which gave me plenty opportunities for street photography. I work as a petroleum engineer for a directional drilling service company.
What cameras do you use and why?
I use a Leica M2 with a 35mm lens and a Fuji flash. I also have an M9 that I don’t use quite as much. For my style of shooting, a rangefinder is the perfect camera. With an SLR if your focus is not spot on, it obscures the image you see through the viewfinder, however with an RF, there is no need to focus and the scene is bright and clear without any fuzzy focus, you put it to your eye, frame and shoot.
Do you have some kind of fascination for the flash?
Oh yes, most definitely. I can’t really explain it. I think it came from seeing Ola Billmont and Dirty Harrry (itw on wertn) do such amazing things with it.
Can you introduce your recent project, FullFrontal (flash)?
Really nice of you to mention Full Frontal, Guillaume. It is a flash photography cooperative with some of my heroes. I feel really lucky to be involved. The group’s alignment hinges on the use of flash, different methods, different ideology, it’s fantastic the way the guys all share ideas and techniques. I can feel a sort of momentum, it’s the most excited I’ve been regarding photography for the last 10 years. Here’s our members:
What’s the background of this image? [see below]
This was taken in late 2014, part of a project I’m working on with Jeff Vaillancourt (one of Austin’s most exciting and up and coming street photographers!) to document the nightlife on 6th Street in Austin. These guys are actual amateur Luchadores, they roamed the streets of downtown and kind of raised hell. I got an interesting set of photos of them, but I typically just share one or two on social media. This is my favorite from the set. This was shot at 1 second at f/16. Since I was stopped all the way down, the bar was very dark so my flash acted as a shutter and stopped the motion. The other light was so dim that it didn’t register in the image. The luchador on the right was caught off guard, he really didn’t know what to think. Maybe a bit shell shocked from the flash.
Thank you Clifton!