On the very first portrait Cole Barash went to shoot for his feature on Iceland, “64.133 ºN/21.9333 ºW” in this month’s Relapse Magazine, one of his lights blew up. Blew. Up.
“Yeah, it’s not like you’re able to run to Adorama and pick up a new light,” said Barash. “So I just stripped my kit to basically a one-light set up with a fill option. It pushed me a little bit to use just that and not have so many options. OK.”
At 25, Barash has photographed campaigns for Adidas, Nike, Rag and Bone, Brixton and Burton. A die-hard film user, Barash’s laid-back persona belies the strength of his creative vision, his disciplined approach to photography and respect for the medium and its history. That drew Relapse Editor Ian Frisch to his work.
“The concept of film in relationship to his photography even furthers my view of him as a true photographer,” said Frisch. “Rather than picking up the newest and flashiest equipment, Cole utilizes the history and foundations of photography, in a physical sense, to capture moments in a way that people have been doing for decades that, in some instances, the younger generation has lost touch with. His passion for photography, across the board, is something that is very rare now-a-days, and something that I hold in the highest respect.”
Barash headed to Iceland with 100 rolls of film to shoot a personal project. When Frisch heard about Barash’s trip, he asked him to do a shoot for Relapse featuring the increasingly influential arts and fashion scene in Iceland. Relapse, founded in 2012, showcases edgy, progressive fashion photography and provocative culture journalism.
With not a lot of time or pre-planning, Barash moved quickly to find and create compelling portraits of designers and artists who make up this community and culture. That same creative vision and work ethic he uses in the back bowls of Canada worked in the studios of Reykjavík.
“Shooting snowboarding out in the back country has taught me a lot. You can’t exactly run 200 feet through waist deep snow to go check an angle,” said Barash. “You really start to put yourself in that 200 foot position and how it’s going to frame up and what it’s going to look at. You need to go find the best angle quick.”
In Iceland, when shooting designers, “as soon as I got into their studio, I made some quick decisions on how their brand and how they as a person would be interpreted to me – light and flashy, dark and moody, vibrant and atrocious.”
For the bands, Barash wanted to create photographs that conveyed the feeling of Iceland, as well as the band members themselves.
In all cases, Barash moved fast – deciding how he wanted to shoot, the tools he would use to shoot and the need to focus his energy on making a connection with the subjects.
“I knew the tools I had and what I could do with them. I kind of quickly made decisions about the environment – where I wanted to shoot them and how I wanted to light it. Then I just started shooting.”
Barash shot mostly with KODAK PROFESSIONAL PORTRA 160, with a bit of KODAK PROFESSIONAL TRI-X thrown in.
“I love the tones on PORTRA, especially on the skin – I haven’t found anything better,” said Barash. “It’s very soft and fairly muted, but not so muted it feels desaturated; very good contrast.”
“TRI-X – generally the contrast and the grain is pretty spot on for what I like to shoot. Especially when you start developing different filters and process,” said Barash. “I think I’ve been shooting it for so long that I know how something’s going to look on a negative.”
The latest issue of Relapse Magazine is available now in New York at Barnes and Noble Union Square, Soho International News, McNally Jackson Bookstore, Lafayette Smokeshop, Bouwerie Iconic, and Bedford Exotics in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is also available through the iTunes Store on all participating mobile devices.
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