Today we’d like to introduce you to Roy Barnett Jr.
Roy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I moved to Denver 10 years ago for grad school, where I studied education (I currently am an educator as well as a photographer). With photography, I’ve always been interested in taking pictures. When I was a kid, I can remember going to thrift stores with my mom and looking at the film cameras there. It was the 80’s. Fast forward to my junior year at Oklahoma State University. I studied abroad for a year in Osaka, Japan. In Osaka, there’s a giant electronics store, Yodobashi Camera. On the photography floor, each floor houses different items where every type of film you could ever imagine. Down one long aisle, all Kodak film. Down the other Fujifilm. I’d never really studied photography, so like a kid in a candy store, I’d pick up random films and shoot them. Each time I got the film developed at the konbini (Japanese convince stores) on campus, I learned something new looking at the images. To this day, I still have all of my negatives from my year abroad. Japan is an incredibly beautiful country and taking photos there really pushed my like for photography into a passion.
Since coming to Colorado, my journey has led me to portrait photography. With portraiture, I feel it’s very important to learn aspects of a person to find a connection to parts of yourself and try to bring those out in photography. Which is why I believe it’s important to show people as they are. As such, I never do any alterations to a person. I think it’s important that we see who we actually are and learn to embrace that. It also means that not everyone is for me and vice-versa. I have incredibly strong personal beliefs, especially around race and I simply can’t put those aside.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s cliche, but if anything, I could say that life is a series of ups and downs. The ebb and flow can be extreme in either direction at any given time. I have an extremely rare condition which has led me to have numerous surgeries in my life. I think as of today I’m about around 20 or so with most being for my condition. It also results in me having had chronic pain for the vast majority of my life, it started around when I was four years old or so. As a result of this, there are things that I’m incapable of doing however, it’s been a blessing in a way for me. I consider it my blessed curse because all of the pain and devastation has led me here to this moment and that’s all we have I feel. Each moment you make a choice as to the direction you go. I fully believe that it’s not the destination, but rather the journey. Along the path, there will be times that shake you to your foundation and everything changes. For me, this past year was one of those times culminating the loss of the greatest man I’ve ever known, my namesake, my father. I will truly, never get over it, and will always have a massive hole in my heart from the loss. It has profoundly changed me, and I realized that I am no longer the person I was prior to it. But, there is no choice in life, but to move forward. So I’m learning myself all over again. I see differently, I think differently, I experience everything differently and I know that it comes out in everything that I create.
Roy Lee B. Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As a portrait photographer, I specialize in people. For me, this can be many aspect of a person’s life. Family, graduation, headshots, event, engagements, occasional weddings, most things people. Within that realm, I’d say of my work, that I am heavily influenced by classical paintings and work that portrays emotion and authenticity. As such, those things are apparent in my photography.
I’d say my proudest moments are when I present a photograph to a person and they see something in themselves that they’ve never seen before as well as their authentic self. I’m always appreciative of the depth of the collaboration. With that, I feel that my work has a very unique distinct look to it that simply doesn’t look like anyone else’s. I strive to create my own unique photography.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’ve won some awards here and there, been published numerous times in print and online, but I’d say my proudest moment more personal. As a photographer, it’s important to photograph the people around you, those you are closest to, ESPECIALLY your loved ones. About two Christmases ago, I took my heavy gear back to Oklahoma. Although I’d photographed my family before, this was the first Christmas with my daughter, as she was recently just born. My daughter is the joy of my life and having photos of my parents with her means the world to me especially now that my father passed a few months ago.
- Website: royleeb.com
- Phone: 720.248.8794
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/royleebphoto/
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