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1 February 2019

Tom barnes 200px

© Tom Barnes

Winner of the Moving Image category of the 2017 Awards, Tom Barnes talks to us about his career shooting both stills and moving image.  We asked Tom what being a category winner has done for his practice...

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© Tom Barnes

What impact has winning the ‘Best in Category’ with your moving image work in last year’s Open Awards had on your career? 

The impact has been mainly on my own confidence with regards to shooting motion, obviously it’s nice to have it recognised but I think it has allayed some of the fear of shooting it, I’m a very confident stills shooter but shoot far less motion compared to my main line of work so it has helped to give me a real boost and thrown me more into it. That film actually helped me land a large job late last year, it had come down to two photographers and I got the entire job as I shot motion as well. 



© Tom Barnes


Can you give us an insight into how the work came about?

I went to university years ago in Sheffield, friends of mine used to be in a band that practiced in this dingy room at the back of Portland works. A couple of years ago I was up there for a wedding and dropped by a few old haunts, I got chatting to a few of them and was introduced to Michael on e-mail. We had a couple of calls and scheduled the date! 



© Tom Barnes


How did you your career begin?

Going back to Sheffield again, I studied economics (yawn) but more importantly I had a timetable with loads of spare time - I used all that time to shoot. As time went by my attendance record dropped to 13% at University whilst I was travelling all over shooting. I graduated (just) and went straight into photography full time with a decent collection of clients. I’ve never looked back.


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© Tom Barnes


These days there is an increase in the demand for photographers to also be directors, how did you embrace this? 

I’ve been shooting motion for years, 10 years ago I was shooting for bands on tour so the transition has been quite easy for me. I’ve been shooting since the launch of the 5D MKII but have really started taking it seriously in the past 2 years. Since focusing more on it I’ve really grown to love it - I desperately need 48 hours in a day to be able to stay on top of everything but I feel like it has really been paying off especially with some of my larger clients.



© Tom Barnes


How would you describe your style?

Oh, the question everyone hates. My work is moody without being too dark, some people have described it as cinematic and I’ll take that but mainly I would say dramatic and dark without being too miserable!


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© Tom Barnes


Have you got any advice for photographers considering entering the Open Awards? And will you be entering!?

Just enter, but enter for yourself, don’t shoot something to try and win the competition - you’ll make no progress by imitating and deliberately shooting the style of previous winners. Also - be selective, don’t enter hundreds of images - choose your top three and ask someone honest for their opinion as well - not a relative - someone who is genuinely honest - sometimes we can be a little too close to our work to be truly objective. 


View more work from Tom in Find a Photographer


Instagram @tombarnesphoto 


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