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Conversations with James Barton

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Barton.

Hi James, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started my photographic journey as the yearbook editor of my high school. Two years of lugging around a camera and documenting the most cherished moments of our small town’s teenage youth brought me immense joy. I was creating beautiful images and capturing memories people would look at long from now and reminisce. You’d think when I got to UCLA, I’d continue this but nope. Wrong. I studied Molecular Cell and Developmental bio and poured my time and energy into pretending I wanted to become a doctor. (spoiler alert: I did not want to be a doctor) I’d moonlight as the occasional Instagram photographer for a friend or two here and there. People would see my photos and glow and I’d feel good. It felt good to see people beam at their portraits or grad pics or artsy creation. Eventually, I decided this was truly what I wanted to propel my life into. I started absorbing as many online tutorials on camera mechanics, film, retouching, the latest editing trends, etc. until I felt like I could do anything. I decided to open my own studio in downtown and really throw myself all the way in! Sink or swim right? So here I am today, loving life and capturing it with my camera.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Oh definitely not. It’s hard to be an artist. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to find my next big client or where to reach out for help on concepts I don’t fully understand. Lighting can sometimes be an experiment for me and the ever-growing need to buy the latest greatest equipment can be a bit of a roadblock. My most recent blunder was having over 6000$ of equipment fall off a tripod that was improperly weighted crash nearly 10 feet to the floor ruining both the lens and the camera. (Luckily, I buy warranties/insurance on anything I deem remotely expensive for this very reason). Definitely taught me to be more careful!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m first and foremost a photographer. I love to shoot beauty, fashion, products, you name it. I’m very picky about my shots and painstakingly spend hours editing my photographs myself. I’d say my most popular shots are the beauty sets as I aim for perfection – whether it be the makeup, the retouching, the lighting, the outfit – it all must be perfectly in place. I’m most proud of a set of photos posted on Behance titled “Synonyms for Brilliance” where a makeup artist and I studded two models with rhinestones. The photos came out *brilliantly*!

I’d say what sets me apart from others is that I started in front of the camera. I wanted to be an actor and model as a child and had some minor successes in lots of different disciplines whether that was touring in Russia or gracing the stage of the San Francisco Opera. I know what it takes to feel comfortable and help my clients capture their best selves even if they may be nervous because I’ve been in their position. The other thing that sets me apart is many photographers outsource their editing to others. I like to handle every shot myself.

What are your plans for the future?
The goal is to expand! Eventually, I aim to be a fully autonomous creative studio without the occasional odd job to keep me financially secure. I’d love to work with magazines, large brands and get myself into the fashion scene! I am shooting for the moon!

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James Barton

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