Christopher Barr, Freelance Photographer

September 25, 2008
Posted in interviews
September 25, 2008 Terkel

Interview: How To Become a Freelance Photographer

My first job was in photojournalism. In my mid twenties, I saw the world. It was wild. I got lost, it was scary. I was there alone for three days with a shotgun by my side. It was really a life and death kind of struggle. After that particular trip, I decided a safer kind of photography was in my future.

I was born and raised in Hollywood. I was comfortable with that atmosphere. I started shooting a lot of portraiture. I got a gig with a major magazine. A year later I was shooting covers for them. Three years later I was one of the most widely published photographers in Los Angeles.

If you throw children in the mix, I’m happy if the chaos is slightly organized. I’m used to a hit rate when I’m shooting adults of 2 in 10. 2 frames out of 10 shots. With children? I’ll be happy 1 in 30, 1 in 40.

The cameras, the lights, all that stuff is really about ten percent of what I do. The other ninety percent is working with people. Understanding where they are and taking them to the place where I need them to be.

I can’t say the light wasn’t very good that day. Or they were in a bad mood when they showed up. That wasn’t my fault. It doesn’t work. There’s accountability when I shoot. I like that. Quite frankly, when I was just starting I wasn’t very good. I look back and I can’t believe people were hiring me to do that. There was not a single person in my life who told me the reasons why I couldn’t succeed. I wasn’t aware until many, many years later how improbable success in what I was doing was.