Long before Instagram, there was the online gallery TinyVices. Photographer Tim Barber founded it in the spring of 2005 to showcase artists and works that inspired him. But what started as a side project from his daily gig as a photo editor at VICE magazine snowballed into a huge archive of cool shots from all over the world. Group exhibitions, even a book imprint followed. All the while, Barber’s been cranking out his own work, shooting for Opening Ceremony, Phillip Lim, Rodarte — you name it — and you’ve likely seen his fashion photography in NYLON, Rolling Stone, and Vogue, too.
But all this productivity is no surprise: Barber’s always been one step ahead of the rest of the pack. An ardent follower of photography since he was 14, the Amherst, MA, native decamped for a few years to northern Vermont before attending art school in Vancouver. Calling New York City his home base for the last 10 years, Barber has no shortage of creative stimuli. In fact, “I think it’s more of a challenge to slow down,” he says. Now he’s in the middle of redesigning and reconceptualizing TinyVices with a whole new look debuting this September. And even though everyone and their dog can snap a decent shot with their iPhone these days, Barber feels the future of professional photography is blindingly bright. Like he wisely points out, “Everybody can sing, too, but there's still a lot of interest in good singers.” We snuck behind the lens for a peek at his process.
“There will always be another next big thing, but I'm kind of a traditionalist. The things that excite me about photography are the same things that got me interested in it 20 years ago. I like how good photographs can tell complicated stories, communicate emotion, and real human experience. Advances in technology won't change that for me.”
“I'm a collector of tchotchkes. My shelves are cluttered with little doodads and whatsits, and they all have, or had, stories connected to them. But I don't have one that stands out, they are all equally (un)important.”
The Best Part Is...
“Traveling, exploring places, and getting to collaborate with new people. And I just like obsessing over images.”
“My studio is sparse and open with lots of light and plants. I like to be super-organized, and I got to build out my space to fit all my books and things, so everything has its place. There's also a back deck, and it's really great to be able to get outside and away from the computer when I need a break.”
“I think trying to predict the future is dangerous and counterintuitive. But that said, I'm hoping this next stage of the TinyVices project will lead to new and exciting things.”
For more in-depth interviews with inspiring visionaries, click here.