Interview with… Irwin Barbe

Photos by Irwin Barbé

Irwin Barbé is a seventeen year old French photographer and director, living in Paris. His work explore feelings of boredom, uncertainty and today’s youth. He took pictures and directed music videos for bands including Thieves Like Us, Zola Jesus, Nicolas Jaar and Gang Gang Dance. His photographs were published in magazines such as Vice, Pig, and Elle Magazine Korea.

When did you start to think about photography?
I’ve always been interested by images. When I was a kid I used to read hundreds of illustrated books. Then I watched many movies, and I realized that my dream would be to make films. When I was about fourteen my father bought a digital reflex camera and I started taking more and more pictures.

What does photography mean to you? and which kind of photography do you like more?
To me, photography is a way of capturing instants and atmospheres. It sounds cliché but I really believe it’s the best way to show that. I prefer watching amateur pictures of 1950’s teenagers to supposedly interesting contemporary art or documentary photographs.

When you take a portrait, what is important for you?
I almost never give instructions to the model. That’s why sometimes people look awkward in my pictures. I think the photographer mustn’t influence the person he’s shooting. It’s really pretentious to say that you can make an image.

Do you think it’s important to follow a school to learn how to shoot?
Certainly not. On the contrary, following a school often format your images, I think. I study at ENSAD Paris, but it’s a way to feel safer about the future. I know that for the next five years I’ll have school courses and I won’t feel too useless when I’m not shooting a lot for myself.

What’s the photo you want to take and you never did?
I’d like to shoot a series of kids in the mountains with stuffed animals by their side.

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