Melbourne-born lifestyle and interiors photographer Paul Barbera is a creative whose interest lies in other creatives; or rather, where those creatives do what they do best. Though Barbera travels the world with brands like Conde Nast, Gourmet Traveler, and Architectural Digest for his site Where They Create, he turns the camera on the creatives themselves and dives into their processes by documenting their surroundings.
How did you get your start in photography?
I was 15 when I started taking a serious interest in photography. I was never a very good student, but as soon as I picked up a camera (which actually belonged to my father who was a budding amateur photographer) I knew that I wanted to put all my passion and energy into it. Four years later, I was accepted into one of Australia’s top art schools the VCA and I haven’t looked back. Of course, it was not always a straightforward path. It’s taken a long time for me to explore many different genres of photography and find what worked for me and to learn how to trust my instincts.
What inspired you to delve into the lives of others; to see where they create?
A lot of my friends are creatives so I’ve always had a curiosity about their creative process and I was often lucky to be invited to visit their studios. From time to time, I would take photographs as I thought that one day it would be great to look back on these creative moments. While I had been doing this off an on for nearly 20 years, it wasn’t until blogging became a thing that I had a platform to put all of my images and I found that I had an audience for this work. In addition, I travel constantly for my commercial and editorial jobs and Where They Create became a great way for me to meet new creatives and see places in different parts of the world that I would otherwise never see if I just stayed in my hotel room.
Why do you think it’s important to talk about artists / creatives in that way?
I think that the creative process is often hidden and misunderstood and I wanted to offer insight into a person’s methodology and bring this to an audience who appreciate the creative process. I have also worked for a long time in editorial, shooting interiors, and I thought there was something missing in the way that a space was always styled and did not really show the messiness and the randomness of creative work spaces and this was a personal body of work that came from a place that was very natural for me.
Favorite studio you’ve shot so far?
Acne was quite a big deal for me as it took a bit of persistence to gain access to their space and it felt good to have them want to take part in the first book version of Where They Create. I flew to Sweden specially to shoot them. Their design studio and showroom are located in an old bank in the middle of Stockholm and the space is enormous yet every room and surface embodies their manifesto as a brand. It’s a place where people not only work but are inspired.
Plans for “Where They Create” / your career?
I am currently working on the second volume of “Where They Create”, which is to be published by Frame again. It’s too early to reveal any more about the project, but I hope that people will like the direction that I am going in. It’s my intention to have more books published as I think this is one of the best way for my photography to be showcased. I love the way that digital media has changed the way I have worked as a photographer but I also think that there is something amazing about having a book of your work published.