Allan Barnes grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked as a photojournalist. He was a contributing photographer to the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, Spin, and Metropolis Magazine. He has worked as a photographer for over three decades, occasionally holding jobs with corporate and lifestyle publications. He has also worked as a freelance photojournalist and voice-over artist in Mexico DF, Mexico. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts Degree in Photography from Ohio University.
Below is the exclusive interview with Allan Barnes by Mirior Magazine.
Q: How long have you been shooting, and what made you choose photography as your medium?
A: I have been making pictures for 30 years. I saw a book with Duane Michael’s work when I was about ten years old and a light bulb went on in my head. I didn’t really start taking pictures till my last year of HS though…
Q: Have you been formally trained, and if so from what institution? Or are you self taught?
A: I am anything but self taught. I took classes as an undergrad, then got a Master’s Degree from the Viscom Program at Ohio University. I learned a lot working as a newspaper/magazine photographer but had some great mentors and took some additional workshops along the way. I still like taking a few workshops per year-learning never stops.
Q: If you could meet any artist who is no longer living, who would it be and why?
A: Perhaps you’ve never watched any old episodes of the Twilight Zone! You don’t mess with the forces of the universe! But I would love to have dinner with anyone alive who knew August Sander!
Q: Was your family supportive of your artistic endeavors?
A: Always. 100 percent. I am lucky.
Q: Is there someone special who has encouraged your work and your path as an artist?
A: Lots of mentors along the way. But I really started coming back to large format about 17 years ago when I spent a year working for a guy named Manny Crisostomo, in the 90’s he started a publishing company in Guam and hired me to come and work for a year. I was pushed to experiment and try new formats every week and got paid to do it! That’s when I really started doing more experimental work with things like Polaroid Transfers and large format.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams or future goals?
A: To continue to make better work every year! I feel like the last few years I have been doing the best work of my life; I would like a little more economic stability whether that comes in the form of more commissions or a steadier day job. I have been doing more teaching in the last ten years, and I would love to teach outside of the US, especially in Latin America, as I speak Spanish fluently.
Q: Tell us about your Alt Process work.
A: Many of the pictures here were made using the Wet plate collodion process, a technology that was popular from about 1850 to the 1870s. Each photograph is made from scratch on a metal or glass plate. It’s a very intense process. However, I also like modern technologies, so there are also photographs here that were created with a digital camera.
Q: What is a Muse and what is their role in your creative process?
A: Really a muse is your equal, who is 50 percent of your creative process, a person who shares or expands your vision. A muse is somebody who finishes your sentences, calls you when you were calling them, likes the same things as you…..all the while working as your creative partner.
Q: Do you have one special Muse or many?
A: Fortune has brought muses, fortune will bring more. This portfolio shows my work with one very special muse.
Q: Is there a historic Muse that you love, someone from the past?
A: The best muses are always artists themselves! Look at Lee Miller! Tina Modotti!