David Alexander Barnett is a renowned photographer who loves capturing the essence of nature and beauty in nature. Having been interested in photography, David never really had the money to invest in what he calls “a decent camera.” While still a student at university in Scotland, David made it a point to walk around the lake or climb up the hill behind the hall of residence to shoot the sunrise with his point-and-shoot Canon Compact.
As he puts it, “Capturing beauty has always interested me….but not only beauty…the unusual…the everyday seen in a different light. I’ve always loved art but never had the artistic background. I don’t think my parents ever put a pencil in my hand. Photography was, I suppose, the shortcut. Bresson, I believe, thought the same, starting with art, becoming frustrated, taking up the camera and then going back to drawing in the end.”
To David, specialization in any particular area is secondary to his penchant for serendipity and spontaneity. He carries his camera with him everywhere. “I mean everywhere. I never know when I’m going to see the right light, or that peculiar angle or object or person or moment. Most of my photography is, I guess, nature photography, but I love all types. I’d particularly like to get into portrait photography…but find that particularly challenging. Everyone is always on guard!” he explains.
Unable to stop thinking of photography, David is always determined to keep pushing the envelope, and is determined to get better and take some great shots, as he puts it, before he dies. “At the moment, I only have good ones. No great ones yet!” he says humbly.
David never looks for motivation – but rather, looks for time. He is a full-time English teacher, a father and a house-husband. “If I walk to work, I do it with camera in hand. If I go for a stroll, likewise. Weekend away, that too. My wife does get a bit tired of it, but when it comes down to it, I actually take very few. I’d love to be more active photographically!” he says, wistfully.
Currently, David has a Fuji X20, which he loves. “Unfortunately, it is in quite a state as I use it so much…and on many of the settings it lets in far too much light…still don’t know why. Still, it takes great low level light shots, great macro, has superb colours and looks wonderful. I am a big Fuji fan and my dream job would be to test their cameras. I’d love to have a FujiX100s or the XT1, but that would require lenses and money and that I just don’t have!” he says.
David is most fond of prime lenses and the flexibility one has to have in order to use them. He once had a 1:1.8 Rokkor for his Minolta X300 back in the analogue days which worked like a dream. He still loves that lens and the camera, but the film is increasingly difficult to come by and developing worse quality and more expensive. Against this backdrop, David is not one to consider phone photography as competition, for as he puts it, “It’s like fighting a sword with a dagger. I understand how practical and quick they are but they just don’t have the flexibility and range of a camera.”
Among the latest technologies in photography that he wishes to get his hands on, he dotes on Lily Drones. As he puts it, “I love the Lily drones and the possibilities that they have for film-making. So much cheaper than renting a helicopter. I’ve always had a yearning for Leica and Hasselblad…such elegant cameras…but I would go for any of the top range Fuji. They rate alongside the best of the best.”
For travel/landscape photography, photographers use 50 mm f1.2 lens. Ask David if is there a better alternative to this and what his advice for those who cannot afford this lens for landscape photography is, and he shares a beautiful message. “It’s as the saying goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love then love the one you’re with.” In other words, trust your own equipment, use it, practice with it, get the best out of it. Milk it for all it will give you. I don’t understand these photographers who upgrade every 3 months. They must have more money than sense or skill. Why upgrade when you already have a great camera? I see so many people out there who are taking very mediocre shots with tremendously expensive cameras. It’s like buying a Ferrari only to drive at 30mph around your neighbourhood.”
David’s favorite photograph is by Felix Lupa, of a black woman and a white baby laughing hilariously in a doorway. To him, the image is priceless!
His current photograph from his own work is called Film Noir. “I took it in Venice from a great distance at night with my Fuji X20. It’s not particularly clear, but it has a great atmosphere and looks as if it belongs on the cover of a Raymond Chandler or Graham Greene novel.”
His tips for aspiring photographers is simple & witty like him, “Always carry your camera with you. Always carry an extra charged battery, a battery charger and an extra memory card, just in case. If something in the street makes you look twice…there’s probably a photo in there somewhere. Always look behind you as well as in front. Sometimes the best angle is where you’ve just come from. When you find a good area, work it. Walk backwards and forwards, stand high, crouch low…work all the angles…think in black and white as well as colour…think about all the options available to you on your camera and how best to exploit them.”
Thrilled to have David as a PhotoConcierge!