Kissing from Above

Intimate photos are given a whole new perspective by Andy Barter. Kiss is a personal photo series that gives us an aerial view of couples kissing. The choice of black background places the focus right on the couple. It's beautiful to see the shape their bodies make when connected in a tight embrace.

We recently caught up with Andy and he was kind enough to answer some of our questions. Be sure to check out the interview, below.

Where are you from? Can you please give us a brief description of yourself?
I was born in Salisbury England, 1967, and currenly live in London with my three children and partner. I have a studio in central London and work for magazines such as British Vogue, Wallpaper* and Esquire. I also work for a broad range of commercial clients. My great love is to shoot my own work. I dislike the idea that everything has been done before. It gives photographers an easy opt out for not trying anything new and to be lazy. I don't claim to be original but I do spend a lot of time trying to look at things in a different way. Better to try and fail at that than be a photographer whose work has no particular distinctive quality or application.

How did you come up with the idea for the Kiss series?
I have been shooting and playing around with “birds eye” images of heads and people for over ten years. With the Kiss series, I wanted to bring the idea to life and really have the bodies connect. I could imagine in my minds eye that the shapes would be really interesting with arms, heads, lips, noses and bodies compressed. It's such a normal everyday activity, but not often seen from this angle. I like the intimacy of these images.

How long did it take to complete each shot?
I spent a couple of days in the studio working the shot out first, playing with different lengths of lenses, swapping and changing backgrounds, testing and trying different lighting setups and all the time playing with different balances of light. Once I was happy with the general setup, each shoot was quite quick. They took around two hours each.

What kind of editing went into each photo? What tools did you use?
The post production work was done with very “light hands.” I use an excellent retoucher who gently lifted areas that needed lifting and held back other areas much as you would in a traditional printing process. We decided to leave much of the skin blemishes alone as I didn't want the images to look airbrushed or fake. I didn't want “beauty shots,” as I think they are beautiful in their own natural way. Sometimes Photoshop in over-eager hands is the best way to ruin a perfectly good image….

How to do you stay creative?
The word creative is interesting and much debated in our studio….Many people claim it and indeed some have it in their job title. I try not think to hard about being “creative.” I prefer to work on the premise of an idea. I work on expanding it and letting it evolve. Most times, you hit a wall and this can be very frustrating as a week or two can slip past and you realize you have nothing. On other rarer occasions, you hit a little vein and its that little glimmer that can lead into interesting imagery, if you work hard at it.

What tips would you give to aspiring photographers?
It depends on what you want from it! It's a hard life in many ways. Very few can relax and rest on their laurels. Your career can feel like its out of your hands and jobs come and go on the whim of somebody else, so you need thick skin and plenty of belief. I don't really want to join the growing army of advisors (most have never made an image in their life) but keeping a passion and a belief in what you are trying to achieve is very important to me. Try to filter your information in as it can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on what took you to photography in the first place. It just might take you somewhere more interesting…

Thanks for the interview, Andy! Keep up the great work!Andy Barter's website

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