"I use a lot of layers of correction in Photoshop, and love to de-saturate my images 20%-40%, then build them back up with layers of color and contrast. My black-and-white images all start in CMYK, then I use different conversions to ultimately get the rich blacks and grays you see," explains Barnes. He likes keeping the files formatted in CMYK because he feels it gives him greater control over the images' contrast. "I find that straight grayscale images seem to be lacking something."
Drawing on his design background, Barnes look at his images with an objective eye, envisioning their end-use applications and retouching them accordingly.
"I understand the designer's use of type, space, cropping, and message. I spent years looking at other people's photography in my layouts and I tried to be respectful of the image; to let it breath in the space, to enhance the image versus covering it up. So when I'm shooting an image for a layout, I try to imagine what the final product will be, how I will crop it, and where I'll put the type."
Barnes receives a rough layout to drop his images into during the shoot. "Digital helps because you can see the type and space instantly, no guessing, no odd tangents, the type doesn't run through the model's head or face, and the tone is good for reversing out the logo at the bottom," he explains. "With digital, in general, everything is more collaborative. The creative directors get to see your thoughts and you get to see theirs."
Advertising through Workbook, Barnes also promotes his work through quarterly mailings. "I research clients based on my type of work. I use ‘Adbase' for some lists, and I look at many Communication Arts and award-based magazines, which help me see who is doing great work."
According to Barnes, his website is his most powerful tool for promoting his business. "The website is easy to navigate and the images are really in your face. I think the site is more important than my physical portfolio because it may be the only chance I have to catch a specific client's attention," he explains.
Working with his rep, he sends out promos and show books regularly. "I try to call on new clients at least once a month, locally. Every quarter, I try to take a trip to different locations to find a new market."
Without a studio, Barnes buys and rents his gear. "We are set up to travel, which requires an ability to adapt to whatever is thrown our way. I use Pelican and Lightware cases and for lighting, I love to use Profoto Pro-7bs and an Elinchrom Octabank," he says.
A recipient of creative awards from APNY (Advertising Photographers of New York) and Communication Arts, Barnes offers the following tips for success:
"Stay in the game, don't get lazy. Be out there, have a presence in Workbook and Blackbook. Go see people and network regularly. Enter contests whenever possible. And remember: bigger is not better. You don't need a big studio or a lot of expensive equipment to create great work. Keep your overhead down -and shoot!"
For more images, visit www.matthewbarnesphotography.com