Los Angeles based photographer Kelly Lee Barrett continues to build a beautiful body of work that is an intimate tale about the human condition. Since moving from San Francisco to the city of angels, she has captured a series of playful moments that have given birth to a world filled with hallucinatory colors and psychedelic fueled adventures.
This exploration of our world has even found its way into our own hands via a set of handcrafted award winning photo-books. In them, she brings insight and humor into everyday urban life. The cleverly organized photos inspire multiple associations about how we communicate with one another in our fast paced culture. -James Pawlish / The Citrus Report
JP: Who is Kelly Lee Barrett? Tell us a little about yourself.
KLB: “You live among illusion and in the world of apparition. But there is a reality. You yourself are this reality, but you don’t know this. If you awaken to this reality you will see that you are nothing and being nothing you are everything”. -Kalu Rinpoche
So how long have you been taking photos? When did you decide photography was for you?
I’ve been shooting since I was a kid. Both my dad and grandpa were photographers. My grandpa set up a mini dark room in my bathroom when I was thirteen. I loved the smell of the photo chemicals. In high school, I had to choose between marching band and photography. Photography smelled better.
What kind of equipment do you like to use? Are you primarily shooting digital these days?
I love using my grandpas old Nikon lens and filters on my DSLR to get that analog film feel. I really can’t stand producing super poppy, crisp, digital photos. So easy and boring. I still like to break out all my traditional film cameras at times, but it gets too pricey since I shoot a ton. Digital shooting offers me more creative flexibility, archiving convenience, and affordability.
Your work has a dreamlike psychedelic quality to it. Can you explain your creative process?
I’m a very visual person. I like to create my own world, surrounding myself in things that make me happy, in hopes to block out the bad. I create dreamlike psychedelic images because I want to live in a dreamlike psychedelic world.
Are there any photographers or artists who have influenced your work?
I enjoy exploring Flickr. I’m addicted. There, I’ve discovered amazing photographers like Neil Krug, Ellen Rogers, Synchrodogs, Aëla Labbé. Other artists that inspire me are Miranda July, Ed Ruscha, Kenneth Anger, and Yoko Ono.
You’ve created a series of books that have featured a number of different themes. Is there a specific process you follow when designing them? Can you tell us how they’ve evolved since you first started?
I made my first photo book in college at U.C. Santa Cruz, after getting back from spring break in England. One night, I was sprawled out on the floor with all my photos from the trip and a bone folder from my print making class. I folded one of the photos in half and the light bulb in my head went on. Over the last ten years now, I’ve been hand-making my little books. I love presenting my images in book form, to create a visual story, in a portable, simple, intimate setting for the viewer.
I like to do all my shooting first. With no particular end result in mind. I then get everything printed and sprawled out on the floor. Next, I start playing with the images sequencing, creating associations and dialogue. The last stage is to construct the book using my bone folder and adhesive. The whole approach is very relaxing and meditative. Its a very time consuming, hands on, loving process.
You made the pilgrimage from San Francisco to Los Angeles a few years ago. Do you find the south to be a good home base?
Yes, I grew up here. I absolutely adored living in San Francisco, and will live there again. Though, its always good returning to your roots. I have a deep passionate love-hate relationship with LA. There is the typical ego maniac, materialistic consumer, don’t leave your house without high heels and a fancy car, kind of vibe that I don’t relate to. There is also a mysterious beauty, hidden gem, David Lynch, old hollywood vibe, that keeps me here. I love shooting and getting lost in the hollywood hills, luscious and quiet. The energy here in LA just keeps getting better; beautiful people and places coming out of the wood work every day. I feel very lucky to be living here in this exciting moment.
What are you working on right now?
I’m always shooting. I have a couple books in the works: my LA book set series, a pyramid book, a long-haired men book, and a ladies of Los Angeles book.
Whats currently on your playlist?
Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Madlib, Flying Lotus, Cut Chemist, Carlos Nina, Little Dragon, Lulacruza, Harry Nillson, Gwen McCrae, Angerine Dream, and Yes.
See more of Kelly’s photos and books at: www.kellyleebarrett.com
From The Citrus Report
Posted By The Citrus Report