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01 June 2012

weekly interrogation: Barry Phipps!

I'm so excited to welcome Barry to this space today! He's one of those people who seems to ooze wisdom and a general 'coolness' :) He's both a photographer and a musician AND happened to study at the same school my sister now attends! Since I just visited said school a couple weeks ago, I can now say it is a pretty awesome place and am not at all surprised Barry thrived there. I mean, once you check out his work it's pretty obvious how talented he is!

name: Barry Phipps
website: http://www.barryphipps.com

1. What do you “do”?
Like most people, I do lots of things, but the thing that I’m most crazy about is photographing people, so let’s say I’m a photographer interested in photographing people and people related things.

2. Why do you do what you do?
I don’t have a choice. It really is something I have no control over. That sounds pretty cliche’, I know, but I really have no choice but to do stuff that is impractical. 

3. Where are you from?
Southern California, The Ozarks (Missouri and Arkansas), Kansas City, MO and my current home in Chicago.

4. Favorite color?
I used to know this. It’s a Pantone blue, light blue and kind of egg shell like. I couldnt’ tell you the exact number, but it’s a light sky blue. It used to be brown when I was a kid and red when I was in college.

5. Favorite food?
There are these crazy pancake type things in Nara and Kyoto in Japan that I can’t stop thinking about. There was an amazing place in Nara that only had tuna on the menu, served in countless different ways.

6. Favorite shoes?
The Alden “Indy” boot, which I like to call the Alden Work Boot, which is what it was called until Indiana Jones wore them in the first movie.

7. Favorite place in the whole wide world?
My parents house in Rogersville, MO. It’s the house I grew up in from third grade through high school. I hated living in the country when I was a kid, but now I see the amazing beauty of the place. 

8. Favorite piece of playground equipment?
The sand around the jungle gym. There was a bunch of stuff in there that I could pick up with a magnet. Maybe it was iron bits. I don’t know.

9. Your funniest story?
Funny. I was just thinking of this. I know for a fact that I have a funnier story, but when I asked my wife about this she brought up two stories that she thought was funnier, but we soon realized they were more sad than funny once we started thinking about it. One was about how in 8th grade I FINALLY got an Izod shirt for Christmas, only to outgrow it immediately. I took the alligator off of the shirt and sewed it on to a non-Izod sweater and was outted by a preppy for having a “fake” Izod sweater. Another story was when I moved from California to a school in the country and mistakenly thought that a little cup of butter on my lunch tray was actually ice cream and stuck it in my mouth and then had to swallow it because everyone was looking at me because I was the weird new kid from California. I had a look on my face like “What are you all looking at? This is how we do it where I come from.” Sad, but so is the story I’m going to go with:

The year is 1986 and I’m a senior in high school with a couple of extra credits to burn. This is right before things called “computers” started popping up. I decided to take typing because I thought it would be an easy class. I had two friends in the room and we used to pass notes to each other and make fun of the teacher, who was an old school ex Mad Men secretary who would slap you on the wrist if you looked at the keys while you typed (which I am doing at this very moment). I was on thin ice, as I had already “acted out” more than a few times and was on strike two. When the last dumb note was intercepted by the teacher and I was finally kicked out of the class and forced to take a study hall, I picked up my stuff, stormed out of the class and yelled on my way out: “FINE! WHAT AM I EVER GOING TO NEED TYPING FOR ANYWAY?”

I think of that every day as I sit down at a computer. That fall I started working almost every day on a Macintosh SE 30 in the computer lab at the Kansas City Art Institute. Funny or sad. You decide.

10. Mac or PC?
Mac since 1986, which ties into question 9.

11. Manual or automatic?
Manual everything. Make everything hard. Manual transmission, manual cameras (Sunny 16!!!), recording music on old tape decks, developing my own film... I love to make everything harder than it should be. 

12. What do you consider your best asset?
The same thing I consider my worst asset. My one track obsessive mind. Multi tasking is over rated. Do something and get it done.

13. Guiltiest pleasure?
My wife and I eat out too much. We love it.

14. Biggest pet peeve?
When the drummer in the band is also the lead singer (The Eagles, etc.) It’s just not right to have the drummer be the front man.

15. What do you consider priceless?
The pursuit of the next meaningful photograph, but not the photograph itself. I love connecting with strangers through the lens. I have spent my whole life as an introvert who doesn’t know how to understand and appreciate people and I am making up for lost time by trying to connect with people with my camera as a buffer and an excuse.

16. If you could sit next to anyone on an airplane, who would it be?
My gut reaction would be Garry Winogrand, but after some thought I realized Diane Arbus would be fantastic, but then I thought about how great it would be to be in the middle seat between Garry and Diane and just listen to them talk to each other. Ultimately, I’d like to have a conversation with Garry AND Diane and also listen to both of them talk to each other while I photographed them distracted by the conversation.

17. What would you choose as your last meal?
One roll of 220 Portra 400 in a Contax 645 in good light. I’m serious.

18. What era in time do you connect with the most?
The 60s. Not the “Laugh In” Flower Power Austin Powers stuff, but more of the “Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society”, Beach Boys “Smile”, Winogrand, Friedlander, Arbus, Avedon, Chuck Close, Velvet Underground kind of 60s.

19. Your motto for life?
Good question. Still working on it. I’ll name check my favorites in the meantime: 
“Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.”-Chuck Close
“If your photo isn’t good enough you’re not close enough.” -Robert Capa
“To me, a good photograph is one that is in focus and of a famous person.” - Andy Warhol
The Lee Friendlander “Uncle Vern” quote (that is too long to recap) about the generosity of a photograph.

20. Best advice you can give?
It’s not what happens to you in life that’s important, but how you deal with with it.

Some of Barry's work:

First, he was featured on another site earlier this year so you should check it out and watch the awesome video:

These tree pictures make me swoon. I never thought dappled light would be something I'd miss:

In the words of my sister, precious. And I'm sure their family will treasure these someday:

Um, stunning. With a capital S:

I can't get enough of this wedding. And the stomping on the glass shot? UH-MAZING:

And this wedding makes me want to get married all over again in some far off place and have Barry photograph it:

I hope you enjoyed reading about Barry as much as I did!

If you'd like to participate, just click on the 'weekly interrogation' tab at the top and follow the instructions there. Hope to see you here!

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