When the skateboarding world was formally introduced to Ray Barbee via Powell Peralta’s big-box video, Public Domain (1988), he exuded a finesse that immediately stood out. Since then, his inherent fluidity, spontaneity, and modesty have become the cornerstones of a career that has reached beyond skating.
As a creative, Barbee has pursued photography and music as diligently and effectively as he’s changed the face of skateboarding. Introduced as the next generation of Powell Peralta’s “Bones Brigade”, Barbee progressed street skating with not only his incorporation of step-hops and endless lines, but also as one of the first African-American street pros in history.
RAY’S TOP 3 PHOTO TIPS
1. Spend one month with one camera and one lens. The goal is to become more and more familiar with the camera and the focal length of choice, which allows you to start the process of anticipating what your composition can look like before bringing the camera to your eye. Also, the fewer choices you have to make, the more attention you can give your subject.
2. Staying with the theme of simplicity, concentrate only on black-and-white for a month. If you shoot digital, then either set your camera to b/w or convert it in the computer. If you shoot film, then only use b/w film. When viewing your images, you’ll be able to see how well you’re progressing towards the goal of creating pleasing compositions. By getting rid of the color, you’ll be left with only the light and dark, shapes and forms of the image.
3. Speaking of light and dark, my third tip is something that I hear painters (but few photographers) talk about—figure-to-ground relationships. The goal is to be very conscious about your subject reading well. If your subject is black and the background is black, then you have a very poor figure-to-ground relationship that does not read well or pop in your photograph. So my tip is to make sure that your subject is the opposite of the background or setting. Light against dark ... or dark against light. Again, it’s easier to develop that ability when shooting in black-and-white; and once learned, will serve you well when shooting in color.