Prolific Jon Barry Takes Artistic Approach to Photography

Prolific photographer Jon Barry (OMP Member #41308) has practically filled up his One Model Place portfolio with Showcase Images – an achievement that has only been reached once before in the history of the website. OMP got a chance to catch up with Jon to discuss his artistic technique and philosophy, as well as his new OMP portfolio featuring his children’s photography (OMP #41309)

OMP: What is your artistic background?

JON BARRY: I have been a photographer of sorts ever since my college days. I was a fine arts major in college, and became a watercolorist of note in New Orleans. My uncle, Adolf “Buby” Huye, was a commercial artist, and back then during the 1960s, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I used to do architectural renderings for him and other architects. Once I started painting watercolors, Winslow Homer became my idol. I was out everyday sketching and finally I decided I just could not do the sketches fast enough and bought a decent 35mm camera to help my process. Photography was not my thing — painting was — and I only took photos in slides so I could project them and use them as the basis for the landscapes of my work.

When I went to Viet Nam, I had little time to paint, but taking photos was something that was always available. I bought a Miranda camera (obviously I was influenced by the naked glamour girl they had in their ads) along with a complete set of lens and gear. While there in Viet Nam, I took well over 4,000 slides. Though over the years I had a few jobs, art was always at the forefront, and photography was always a tool.

OMP: How did you make the transition into photography?

JON BARRY: Getting into photography as a profession did not happen until I started manufacturing theatrical makeup. My brother and I had an engineering firm, and I was basically the salesman. I was an art major, not an engineer. I had been bodypainting girls for years, and we batched up a bodypaint mixture that was to revolutionize the makeup market for movies and MTV videos, which became popular in the early ’80s. A friend told us that we should market our makeup, so we set out in a rented apartment and bottled the stuff. We were smart — we put the words “safe” and “non-toxic” on the bottles. I went to a few department store chains with a female friend, we did a few demos, and they bought it. Additionally at that time another thing happened — TV got into selling items live on the air. We found a couple of these channels, and wound up selling products that we did not even have. Then the FDA shut us down, yanked the product we had delivered out of the stores, and told us we had to do testing. With this setback, and the knowledge that the product was a winner, I set about designing products and doing the photography for the products. Within a couple of years, I started a prepress business to do the color separations for our business as well as that for other advertising firms, printers and graphic designers — all at the onset of the digital explosion. We hired a staff photographer as well, and the two of us began shooting commercial work.

OMP: Tell us about how you first discovered and signed up for One Model Place back in 2003.

JON BARRY: When the prepress business got soft and the printers started buying the same equipment as we were using and giving away the same type of products we were selling for free, the handwriting was on the wall. We had sold the makeup business, Generik, Ink, Inc. and the brand “Why Not Party” to Libby Lee Toys out of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1989. I totally concentrated on the prepress, Image 4 Prepress, Inc, and our business in that was great. We had two staff photographers as well as me, and we were very advanced in the digital graphics and the commercial field as we were using Photoshop before the Knoll Brothers went with Adobe, Inc. We were doing retouching as far back as 1985, and now were beta developers for Adobe, as well as a dozen other software companies.

We became a dealer for Kodak to sell their digital cameras and worked out an arrangement with Leaf Systems before it was bought by American Scitex, to also use their camera systems, so we were taking digital photos before almost anyone. At this time there was an explosion of the Internet, and the force that was driving the Internet was the porn and glamour industry. When our business was declining for prepress as the printers were doing their own, we started scanning the rolls of film that the porn sites would get and we soon learned who was shooting the models. I was not really interested in porn, but rather I liked working with models to shoot artistic nudes. I still loved bodypainting and was always in need of models. One of the girls whom I had photographed (Stacy Lynn, who is no longer modeling) suggested that I join One Model Place because there were lots of models there. I did, and have never looked back.

OMP: How has One Model Place helped you promote your career over the past seven years?

JON BARRY: Commercial work has always been my mainstay, I was always in it through the makeup and the prepress business and knew the clients. But I also began doing well during the explosion of the models on the Internet. OMP offered me a way to find additional models that before might not have been available. At that time we had quite a few models in our area and back then they were very anxious to get work and since we were selling the photos we could afford to pay the models. The work got progressively better through 2005.

After Hurricane Katrina things changed here in Baton Rouge for us and we lost population due to the destruction caused by the storm. However, I had a good port on OMP and a few dance clubs noticed my work and I began to shoot for them as well. I was also doing calendars and was always in need of models and they were available through OMP and would come in from other areas. But even though I was not getting the same number of models from OMP, my portfolio was still being viewed and I got jobs from it.

OMP: Tell us the stories of your first Showcase image, and your most recent Showcase image.

JON BARRY: The truth is, I have no idea when the first Showcase image was selected. I really did not pay that much attention to it. I started off right away with a Platinum Plus account, and back then it only allowed 300 images. I was using the portfolio more for the ability to find models, and was not too concerned with Showcases. I am sure that back then I deleted them just like I would delete other images. They were not featured on our ports like they are now… with the bars across the page showing those that we have received as well as those on models’ pages that we are linked to. When I first noticed them, they just had this little bar saying “Showcase.” They happened when they happened. Probably over the years I have deleted well over 50 of them.

It was not until I noticed the affect that they had on hits to my account that I gave them any value. How can I tell a story about my most recent. I get one almost every day now. In fact, I am faced with deleting about 250 of them because now my port is filled with them. I started another One Model Place portfolio just for children (OMP #41309), and moved all those photos to that port. Even with doing that the port filled up, and it is easily possible that by the time anyone reads this, I will have deleted all 250. However, I made a link of the Showcases I have at present before their deletion, and that link is available on my port for viewing.

OMP: What advice do you have for OMP models?

JON BARRY: You know, we photographers have more longevity on OMP than the models do. They get older, have children, get married, and do not feel like being models anymore — so most models have a lifespan that is limited. The great ones, well naturally they are still there. The biggest problem with models is they want it to be a dream, and they work with you and then they do not work with anyone else. Communications has always been their weak spots, but if the models want to really be successful, all they have to do is be good communicators, respond to emails and never be late or stand anyone up. Being good looking is truly secondary to being clean, punctual, and a good listener.

OMP: What advice do you have for photographers who are just starting out?

JON BARRY: I have watched Photoshop become ever so much more important than the camera to the shooters. My suggestion is to forget for the most part that Photoshop exists and concentrate on making the photos that are taken as good as possible when shot, so that little Photoshop work is necessary. I also think that the editing work by so many is overdone. I find that too many photographers have stopped worrying about their color and white balance, just being lazy and shooting raw which gives you a much greater color range, and correcting the files after the fact. But all this does is make the photographer even more of a slave to the computer and less available out in the field.

Further, I find that few photographers understand light at all. I think more attention should be paid as to where the light is coming from, what happens to it when it hits a surface, and learn how to shoot both inside and outside.

Lastly, stop worrying about protecting the images with large branding and providing tiny files to the models because of the worry that someone is going to steal the file. Be prolific, shoot more often. Shoot good headshots of the models that you do TFP with, and stop Photoshopping the models to the point where they do not look like themselves. This is great for the photographer’s port, but the other photographers who want to hire this fictitious person would sure like to know what the model looks like. We might not like the person created in Photoshop, we want the real person. Also, stop putting hours and hours into the retouching of photos, and spend more time learning the camera, the light, and the framing. Make the photos good from the get-go and please, please give the models more images at a higher resolution.

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To see more of Jon Barry’s work, check out his OMP portfolio or visit his personal website

Image of Tati OMP Model #414708 by Jon Barry OMP Member #41309

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