Friday Five with Nigel Barker

For this week’s Friday Five, we reached out to Nigel Barker, celebrated fashion photographer, New York Times best-selling author, furniture designer, and AC Hotels by Marriott’s global brand ambassador. The London-born Barker set up his studio in New York City in 1996 and has since become an internationally recognized photographer and television personality having served as photographer and judge for 17 seasons on America’s Next Top Model, and as the host of Oxygen’s modeling competition show, The Face. He pulled from his two decades of experience in the fashion and beauty industries to write two books, The Beauty Equation, and his most recent, New York Times Best Seller Models of Influence. Lately, you’ll find his voice gracing the SiriusXM airwaves on Tuesdays hosting his own show, Gentleman’s Code, on Andy Cohen’s channel, Radio Andy. Outside of work, he’s lent his time to charities, like The Human Society of the United States, The Human Society International, Make A Wish Foundation, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (board member), The Edeyo Foundation (board member), and the USO. Here, Barker gives us insight into what keeps his creativity and inspiration alive and well.

1. @chintwins so yes my wife and sister-in-law have to be my top and favorite inspirations. I met them together 22 years ago in Milan Italy when they were modeling. I photographed them both that afternoon and have never stopped. Now married to Crissy with two wonderful children I continue to photograph these remarkable women who have a total of 5 children between them and continue to inspire 100s of thousands through their Instagram account. For me personally the voyage of shooting two women for so long and so intimately has been an extraordinary pleasure and trip! Every photographer needs a muse and I have two.

2. Light, Obviously as a photographer I am drawn to the light as my tool to create. Dodging and burning, reflecting and blocking in order to control every aspect of the image or at the very least making the most of what the sun has to give that day. Playing with both the light and absence of it and understanding what the light can do continues to be the reason I love being a photographer. In fact my understanding of light is something I use no matter what I am designing or creating. The way light plays off an object or comes in through the windows and lights up a room, sets the tone and mood.

3. New York, I first came to NYC in 1991 and lived at the fabled Chelsea Hotel. A very different city than today but regardless New York has always been this partner pushing me forward and keeping me on my toes. The city that never sleeps, that takes no prisoners and if you can make it here you can make it anywhere continues to excite me after all these years. Having lived in many of the worlds great cities like London, Milan, and Paris, New York is unlike any other place, almost it’s own country with a heart beat that seems to be always racing, it’s not for everyone but once in your blood very hard to give up.

4. Morocco, A destination that I have now visited over a dozen times over the years. I took America’s Next Top Model there in cycle 16 and have been for both pleasure and work since my childhood. A country that has old world charm, mystery and history combined with ocean, beaches, mountains, desert and cities. The light and shadows cast across the country in souks and Kasbahs is unique in part because of the sandy/dusty streets, Atlas mountains and Sahara desert mixed with the Mistral winds whipping up off the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Seals, since a small child I have loved animals. In fact, I wanted to be a zoologist and that passion for flora and fauna has continued throughout my life. I now work with various organizations around the world like the Humane Society International using my ability to tell stories through film and imagery to both celebrate animals but also shine a spotlight on issues like global warming which is causing our polar ice caps to melt and threatening the survival of the stunning yet fragile ecosystems that exist there.

All images courtesy of Nigel Barker.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.