If you’re into fashion photography, or perhaps if your beau or sister has ever made you sit through episodes of Next Top Model, you’ll likely be even vaguely familiar with Nigel Barker. He’s been a professional on both sides of the camera, and certainly it’s his work behind them that he is known and will be remembered for.
When you’ve reached this level of photography, this sort of iconic status where you make up part of the small group at the top, you’ve clearly been exceedingly good at what you do. Part of that is understanding your equipment. You may scoff at that statement thinking it’s so obvious it needn’t be mentioned, but it’s one of those horrible things I see all too often, that working photographers often don’t have a good grasp of their tools.
Nonetheless, at this level you’ve also probably had the good fortune of using any camera you like, so it’s always interesting to hear what the favorite is of these guys who have access to it all. As Barker divulges in this episode of #behindtheglass, it’s the Mamiya 67 Pro ii (he doesn’t specify if it’s the D variant or not). For those who may not know it, it’s a behemoth medium format camera that’s been around in some form or another since the 80’s. The RZ67 Pro IID has an integrated interface that allows for communication with digital backs, and as such, it’s still a popular choice among fashion shooters – fashion shooters with a nice budget, because as you know digital backs don’t come cheap, and neither do leaf shutter lenses, typically.
Barker notes two very interesting points in his explanation for his affection for the camera system that I loved to hear, because they go against the grain of what you’ll see and hear preached from many photographic educators. We typically hear that large cameras are intimidating, and it’s usually said in a negative manner. Barker feels that sometimes when a large camera is used, that very intimidation can make a subject feel special, or glamorous, or ‘lucky’ to be the focus of such a machine. There is, I feel, some real truth here. How many times have you seen people associate anyone with a big lens on a DSLR with being a professional just given the look of the camera?
[REWIND: Nigel Barker On Retouch | A Fashion Photography Icon Speaks Honestly About The Controversy]
The next, is how he notes the slight softness of the lenses, and appreciates that fact. We’re forever bombarded with questions about the sharpest lenses out there, but it warrants a mention that you don’t always want the sharpest lens or, in fact, the sharpest aperture, especially for people, and maybe hearing it from someone of this caliber may get it to sink in.
You can learn and see more from Nigel here.