A SOUTHERN FOCUS
THE LIGHT AND LENS OF PHOTOGRAPHER BRANT BARRETT
Originally from Augusta, Georgia, his family had a vacation home on the sea island, and he spent the summers of his youth crabbing, fishing, and exploring its environs. When adulthood called him away from his idyllic childhood, he joined the Marines, started a family, and began a post-military career in information technology. As retirement approached, Barrett pondered his next move. He would need something to occupy his time, energy, and creative mind – or, as he put it, “I had to figure out what I was going to do since I don’t play golf.” So he bought a 35mm Nikon camera and a South Carolina State Park pass and began photographing the landscapes and wildlife of Huntington Beach State Park near his Surfside Beach home.
Picking up a camera at this phase of life was like visiting an old friend. He had put photography aside years before to focus on his career, and returning to it felt natural. Barrett first became interested in photography while capturing family moments following the birth of his two sons in 1977 and 1980. Even then, composition and communicating a vision was important to Barrett. In those years, of course, he used film, and he sees learning the basic skills of photography with film as a gift. “Each push of the button cost money,” he says, so taking the time to plan and execute each shot wasn’t just more artful; it was more frugal. Today Barrett still uses film occasionally, noting that “film really slows you down.”
Shortly after Barrett began photographing the denizens of Huntington Beach State Park, he began to notice that everyone else was photographing the same things that he was. The ubiquitous imagery of wading birds and marsh grasses made his new hobby feel less satisfying, so he enrolled in visual arts classes at Coastal Carolina University to learn more and branch out. For years, Barrett has been growing as a photographer thanks to his commitment to continued learning, even sometimes repeating courses with different professors to gain a new perspective. In 2011, Barrett entered his first art competition at Winyah Rivers Foundation, earning Best in Show. From then he was inspired to enter more competitions, taking the merit prize at ArtFields in 2015 and the top category prize in 2017 and 2018, among other awards and recognitions.
Barrett tells stories through images of both people and landscapes. When he was accepted for a portfolio review by Atlanta Celebrates Photography, he was told by one of the reviewers, James Estrin of the New York Times, “People are curious about other people they don’t know.” Barrett wants to invoke your curiosity about his subjects and their environments, turning his lens onto the life and work of those we might otherwise just drive by without a second thought.
Brant Barrett’s work can be found in the Santee Coastal Reserve permanent collection in McClellanville, the SC Artisan Center in Walterboro, MISC- Everything Murrells Inlet Gallery in Murrells Inlet, and Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash, North Carolina. For more, visit his website: www.brantbarrettphotography.com.
By Tara Bailey