Fashion Category Winner Julien Barbès discusses his take on a Minimalist Twist using the KISS principle


We are proud to introduce you to Julien Barbès, winner of the Spotlight Awards 2019 Fashion Photography Category. Read the exclusive interview below to learn more about the winning image, and how Julien focuses on a minimalist feel by using the natural intricacies of light, color, and beauty in his work.

The winning image of the Spotlight Photo Awards 2019 Fashion Category. Photographer: Julien Barbès

Production Paradise: Tell us about the winning image – the idea behind it, how was it shot?

Julien Barbès:The image was created when Caleo Magazine asked me to shoot their next cover story. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to create a bold, minimalistic series in celebration of the Bauhaus school and movement turning 100 years old this year. I kept the setup basic, and rather focused on building a great connection with the model. Natural light, my faithful Nikon, and the right angles did the trick. And a great team behind the camera of course.

Production Paradise: How do you feel about winning the Category Prize of Spotlight Awards 2019?

Julien Barbès: It still seems surreal. It’s truly an honour to have won in the fashion category. The jury was packed with professionals and I feel humbled that they chose me. It’s a great motivator.

Production Paradise: How would you describe your style?

Julien Barbès: Have you heard of the KISS principle? Haha… No but really, I like to Keep It Simple and Straightforward. As natural as possible. The light, the poses, the emotions… all of it.  I like to create personalities, and real moments, that people can relate to.

Production Paradise: Name 3 photographers that have inspired you?

Julien Barbès:

  1. Glen Luchford
  2. Lachlan Bailey
  3. Richard Bernardin

Production Paradise: How did you end up behind the lens? Tell us about your career path.

Julien Barbès: Back in Montreal, I founded a streetwear brand with some friends during my teens. We needed some campaign pictures. As we were just starting out, we had no money to hire a photographer, so I picked up my dad’s camera and pretended to know what I’m doing. The pictures actually turned out quite alright 😉 When I realised I could do this for a living, there was no turning back. I proceeded to study photography and became the first assistant to Richard Bernardin. In 2013 I moved to Berlin, where I’ve built up a great network, learned and worked with many image-makers along the way. Last year I signed with my first agency, Stöver Photographers.

Production Paradise: What do you think is necessary to become a successful commercial photographer?

Julien Barbès: I could say the usual things like network network network, and practice practice practice. But I’m going to say:

  1. Believe in your work. Find your own style. Don’t let the latest photography hype influence you. That will pass. Create your own style. Nurture that. Make that grow. Someone WILL want you for that. This is how we differentiate ourselves.
  2. When in doubt, ask questions. Make sure you understand the client’s needs.
  3. Laugh a little and do your best! On shoots, bring a good vibe and make the model(s) feel comfortable. Don’t let any stress get in the way. It ruins everything.

Production Paradise: If you weren’t a photographer, what would be your alternate career path?

Julien Barbès: Probably something to do with sustainability and the circular economy. I’m also very interested in the impact of architecture and urbanism on people’s lives and happiness. I believe that cities need a radical change in their transportation systems. We can’t be travelling the way we are today, it’s simply not sustainable.

Production Paradise: We believe you are not resting on your laurels – what are you working on now?

Julien Barbès: Funny you ask. I’m actually busy with the post-production of pictures for Caleo Magazine’s next cover story (you won’t be disappointed) 😉

While at the same time, trying to organise three editorial stories for different magazines, working on a personal project with moving images, and at the same time of pitching for a commercial job.

I think one of the hardest parts of the job, is to stay creative, work on your own project, shoot editorial, update your portfolio, post on Instagram, workout, travel, live, love, etc.

Production Paradise: The Spotlight awards had a judge’s panel composed of potential clients for commercial photographers – did that influence your choice of image(s) selected for your entry?

Julien Barbès: It did… I wanted the jury to get to know a piece of work that I believe really represents me, my style, and the vision where I want to go.

Production Paradise: What made you want to participate in these Awards?

Julien Barbès: There are many awards out there but the Spotlight Awards has a good reputation and the jury panel is perfect for a working photographer like me. Getting my work in front of them is a very good way to get direct feedback from leading, inspiring minds.

We would like to thank Julien for taking the time to share his experience with us! If you want to see more of his work, visit his member page or his website.

Production Paradise has published a special edition of the Spotlight Magazine featuring all the winners and their images. Make sure you subscribe to our blog and Spotlight Magazine so you won’t miss out!

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