As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who were nominated in LeBook’s Connections. http://www.lebook.com/coleBarash
Today’s featured photographer is: Cole Barash
How long have you been shooting?
Since I was 14, I think… So 14 years
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self taught. I tried going to photographer school and left after three weeks. Brooks was such a joke and rip off. I really wish I would have at least looked at a good school like Parsons, Pratt or Art Center in Pasadena which all have pretty legit programs.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Talk Story is about the sub culture of the North Shore of Hawaii that is loosely anchored around John John Florence (prodigy surfer). Every year thousands of photos are shot of all the action of the progression of surfing on the North Shore on Oahu. The beach is lined with huge telephoto lenses and always focused on the action. I wanted to go there and create a body of work that was complete opposite of that, 180 degrees away from the water. Digging deep into the rugged localized north shore culture showing portraits of specific influential people, the colors and anything my gut re acted on why making the work not worrying about if it was going to work or not. Also focusing on the home life of John John as he is a very soft spoken but huge part of surfing that is kept pretty under wraps.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Depends. A few months to a year. I like to go out and make new initial work/ working images out from my brain- print them, look at them and see if it is worth exploring deeper and more details. I need to see it in a tangible way first- usually.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I make work that is quite different than what I am hired to shoot. Sometimes it has influences but mostly its different. When you are commissioned to make work you are under some one else approval, vision and at their mercy. Which is totally fine as I see it as a service that I can provide and can be into it as well. Personal work- I take pretty seriously and focus more time and energy on that than commercial work. When the commercial work comes it comes and I’m hyped to do it but I don’t stress on it or focus on how much money I can make every year. I focus on creating work from my gut, as it’s the only way I can progress personally- the only person I’m up against is myself. I want to create real bodies of work that puts my stamp on the map so when I die people can hopefully find my visions and different specific perspectives on certain things, which I do with books and prints.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yea mostly MySpace. ). Naw, haha of course I for sure have but it’s not something I rate it with. I measure my work from how the people I respect react to it not how many likes or re blogs it has.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Sure. Tumblr madness- and some press on certain projects has been great. I think it is now a really valuable way to spread news and show people what you’re working on or what you’re thinking but not necessarily as a whole or tangible object.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Definitely not. I don’t believe in making my art books as promos. I don’t make books to get more work I do it as a creative expression and a tangible perspective as well as a contribution to the printed community of art and photography. Not saying that my rep hasn’t made promos with images from personal work which she has and it has looked great but the books as promos- not me.
I wanted to create a body of work that to show the true colors, beauty, grit and life of the North shore anchored around John as a main subject. Portraying the life at home inner details that makes/made his life what it is. I made it to make a statement of an era of surfing and Hawaii that ideally you will be able to look back in 20 years in your hands and see with your own two eyes not through a computer screen. This was made as a contribution to surfing for nothing but the true salt, blood and bones its roots.
Cole Barash (b. 1987) began his journey when he left his New England home at sixteen to document snow and surf culture in California. Self-taught and dedicated, Cole soon made a name for himself. With an organic approach to film photography and a clever eye for composition, his portraiture and still lifes became known for their candid and spontaneous sense of intimacy. Well acquainted with international subcultures, Cole seeks “subjects where the boundaries are more open, not as seasoned, not done before,” capturing “unpredictable outcomes in a predictable world.” In 2011, Cole relocated to Brooklyn, New York where he now resides permanently.
One of PDN’s top 30 upcoming photographers (2009), Cole’s work has been featured in group shows “Get Gone” (2008), “SILENCE” (2009), “Hot Bed” (2013), One Eyed Jacks Gallery (2014) and the Annenberg Space (2015), and a solo exhibition “Cold Emotions” (2009) at Montanero Gallery in New Port, RI. Cole’s first monograph book, Talk Story, and accompanying exhibition opened at Brooklyn’s Picture Farm Gallery in July of 2014 with a subsequent exhibition at Venice Arts Gallery in LA. Cole’s images have been featured in numerous publications including, Rolling Stone, ESPN Magazine, Relapse Mag, and No Thoughts, among many others.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.