"I seem to create works which are super bright and others which are super dark, I think generally the darker ones are always self-portraits. I don’t know what this means, I think maybe that is how I see myself and this comes through more in my self-portraiture, I am more comfortable exploring the darker aspects of myself but in others, I see something very different, " explains a 21-year-old photographer Phoebe Barrett. In an interview for our magazine, Phoebe reveals what influenced her photographic style the most as well as what film photography means to her.
Hey Phoebe! Happy to have you here! How did you get involved with photography? When did you realize this is something you want to pursue?
Hey! Thank you for having me. I got involved with photography when I received my first Polaroid camera as a gift at sixteen and this kind of sparked my interest, and I went on to study photography in college too. But I didn’t really pursue it seriously and realize it as a passion until a couple of years ago when I fell in love with my Polaroid SX-70.
What inspires you to create beautiful content every day?
Love, affection, melancholy, nostalgia, solitude, small moments how light touches skin, a gesture or expression.
Besides all the photography work, you are also studying for a degree in Art History. How do you manage to do everything? What are you most looking forward to after your graduation?
I’m not quite sure. I’ve literally just finished all my work for my degree which is a relief. I am moving to Berlin at the end of this month, so I am obviously excited for that. I’m mostly just excited for new projects, I am looking to collaborate more with other people, and get out of my insular self-portrait phase. I’m also excited to see where Hylas goes, that is my main focus right now.
I understand you are the creator of Hylas, an analog magazine dedicated to inspiring film photographers around the world. What influenced your decision to make a magazine like this? What represents film photography to you?
I was inspired to create this platform because of all the beautiful work I was seeing in the instant film community, I really wanted to create a platform which showcased these works. To me, film photography is a way of defying our age of instant gratification. I think that’s why it is so important to me, it has a romanticism and a nostalgia, a special quality that it is inimitable.
Your work feels almost surreal and nostalgic and the same time, with a touch of romance. How did you establish your personal photographic style?
It wasn’t necessarily a conscious process. I guess my photographic style represents how I feel inside, about myself and others and the world in general. I am a contradiction, I am an idealistic dreamer, whilst a layer of cynicism and pessimism lies underneath. It can be confusing. I think that generally comes out in my images, often I create the brightest images, and the next day I might create something much darker which looks as if it could perhaps come from two entirely different people.
I understand you also enjoy doing self-portraits. What comes easier for you, being in front or behind the lens?
I generally do not like being photographed by others, but photographing myself is a much more comfortable process as I feel free to express myself in any way I choose. I love photographing others, especially those close to me. There are intimacy and vulnerability in it.
You did a series of intimate self-portraits called “Still, for a While”. How did you come up with an idea to make these beautiful, delicate self-portraits? Is there a reason why they are done specifically in black and white?
The title relates to my process when creating self-portraiture being almost meditative, I slow down and exist completely in the moment, which is something incredibly rare for me. As I previously mentioned I seem to create works which are super bright and others which are super dark, I think generally the darker ones are always self-portraits. I don’t know what this means, I think maybe that is how I see myself and this comes through more in my self-portraiture, I am more comfortable exploring the darker aspects of myself but in others, I see something very different.
All photographs shown in this article were used by the permission of Phoebe Jane Barrett. If you want to see more of her work, follow Phoebe on Instagram.