Photographer Zoe Barker talks about
how the renowned ‘Englishness’ of the Isle of Wight,
is such an inspiration for her work…
Could you tell us about your creative background… I spent many years in London working in television, I got made redundant and took the opportunity to study photography at Reading College of Art Design. That gave me all the tools to turn my hobby into a serious passion! I haven’t looked back since.
How many cameras do you own and what’s your favourite… I do have a digital camera but when it matters I shoot on film (which is most of the time). I have two large format cameras (the big old-fashioned heavy types with bellows that take 10×8” or 5×4” negatives), two ‘normal’ medium format cameras and a Holga medium format. The Holga is the cheapest camera I own – mass-produced in China, it’s just a plastic box with a lens. There’s no speed or aperture control. You have to estimate the focal distance. The back falls off all the time. But it takes fantastic pictures with a quality you just don’t find with anything else! So it’s my favourite camera.
What’s your favourite time of year to photograph… Has to be winter when the tourists have gone home. I love the grey, flat light. There’s something especially beautiful about the English seaside during ‘closed season.’
Seascape or Landscape… Definitely neither! I love domestic interiors – the older or more run down the better. I love the small details of everyday life that we don’t see because we take them for granted. It might be an old scrap of wallpaper or a socket on the wall. It’s all about finding the beauty in the mundane. I also love ‘Englishness’ – beach huts, village halls, caravans – which makes the Isle of Wight a very inspiring place to live.
What’s your top tip for approaching shops/galleries to sell your work… Make sure you’ve thought about what you want to say before you go in, always have a business card and be prepared for rejection!
What’s been the highlight of your career as a photographer so far… Probably my first solo exhibition in a Devon gallery which then went on to be hung in London. But otherwise my first Open Studios in 2012 – a group of us exhibited together at Ryde School and I loved it. We had so many people through the door, got so much feedback and I met so many interesting people. Looking forward to doing more of that in 2013!
What’s your typical day like… There’s no such thing as a typical day! I freelance in television, so I’m sometimes working in London but at the moment mostly working from home which is great. I sell my cards and prints in lots of places on the island so there’s a fair bit of time spent managing that. And the rest of the time I’m out and about with my camera or sorting through images making plans.
What’s your favourite magazine or blog… I confess I don’t really have one. I was in love with AG (The International Journal of Photographic Art & Practice) but sadly the editor died recently and the magazine has closed. I’ve yet to find anything that even comes close to it.