Each month, I interview a local photographer to learn about why they love photography.
Joe Barrentine is the director of photography at The News Tribune and The Olympian. Barrentine has been shooting for newspapers for more than a decade and is still learning his craft. He carries a point-and-shoot on vacations and leaves the serious vacation photography to his wife Ingrid (whom I interviewed back in May). He used to golf, but now spends his free enjoying his 1-year-old daughter Rosie.
Roxanne: When did you become interested in photography?
Joe: I had small 110, 126, and disc cameras growing up, so I guess photos have always been a part of my life. I got my first 35mm (Pentax K1000) from my dad when I was about 11 and plunked away with that for a long time.
Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?
Although I knew the basics of exposure, I didn’t get serious about photography until I was in my 20s. I was selling gear at Kits Camera and started to learn from some of the customers. It was a great time of learning and shooting. Film made learning expensive, so working at a shop was the only way I could afford to learn!
Why is photography important to you?
Photography is the way I have learned to deal with the world around me. I interact with people, I go places, and I do things for the chance to make photos. Growing up as a socially awkward army brat, photography gave me license to be who I was and find joy where I could. I still feel that way today.
What motivates you?
Money. That’s what motivates me to get out of the house and go to work. Otherwise I’d stay home and enjoy my family! Photographically, the challenge of making good, low percentage photography keeps me trying to make good photos in tough, ever changing situations … and did I mention, money! ☺
What’s your favorite lens or other piece of photography gear?
I like long, fast glass! I often use a Nikkor 500 f4.0 or a Nikkor 300 2.8 to shoot sports. I have been known to add 1.4x teleconverter to either to help isolate the action of sports or the majesty of nature. I love the way the backgrounds melt away when shooting wide open.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in photography?
Just make photos. Make a lot of them, show them to people, talk about the photos and listen to what people say … I mean really listen. Remember they aren’t judging you as a person, they are talking about something you made. Get your ego out of the photos and then you will start to make meaningful photos. And if you feel like making photos as a business … make sure you understand the business before you start buying gear.