From working both sides of the camera to being a judge on America’s Next Top Model, Nigel Barker has experience with many ends of the spectrum. With an incredibly interesting story to tell, both from his past and current ventures, Nigel gives Style Solutions his lowdown.
S: How did you get into photography?
N: I’ve been a photographer for about 20 years and it started off as a hobby when I was in high school. I was entered in a modeling competition in the late 80s by my mother and girlfriend at the time. It was a TV show called The Clothes Show; I didn’t win but I got to the top 3 and got a modeling contract as a result of it. So I thought in between highschool and med school, where I was meant to go, I’d take a year off trying to make money and travel to Europe modeling and then eventually go back.
S: Tell me about your switch from in front of the camera to behind the camera.
N: During my years modeling, I saw photographers working and realized this is a profession that had longevity, creativity and was obviously a passion of mine that I enjoyed but didn’t think was an option. After a couple of years modeling, I didn’t go back to med school since I knew it would still be there. So two years led to three years and financial independence; then came the 90s heroine chic, the grunge movement, androgyny and I was this big model (in size, I’m 6’4) and the whole business changed. Men would look like boys, girls would look like boys and I would look at myself and thought this isn’t going to work as a model. But I loved the business, having worked and met incredible people and photographers, so I thought to try out the other side of the camera and built up a portfolio. Come 96’ I became a full time photographer, got my big first job, and moved to the US in 98’ and opened studio NB. The rest is history.
S: What goes on at Studio NB?
N: I work as a photographer, but one of the things we decided to do (and we base this off of the Andy Warhol idea of having a creative place doing all things creative) is having a client like Nine West, who works with me and my team, to not only shoot their [Runway Relief] advertising campaign and TV commercial, but to develop creative concepts around them. We just signed a contract for 3 additional years to work with them. A portion of the money raised for buying the Runway Relief Nine West boots will be donated to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer.
S: You were also the spokesperson for the campaign, which was incredibly successful. What was most exciting for you?
N: With 30 models, we did multiple interviews during the shoot itself and filmed it for a behind the scenes video and invited the press to the shoot with a red carpet for a step and repeat. The campaign got 350 million views in 2 weeks and we raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity.
Stay tuned for part II tomorrow!