We first met Ray nearly 2 years ago when he agreed to be part of our 'Legends of Skateboarding' ILFORD Inspires YouTube series. We were blown away by not only his talent as a musician, photographer and artist but also his genuine humility as a person.
He was one of the first people that we reached out to, to take part in the Lockdown Sessions and we were so pleased when he agreed. Read on to find out how he has been spending his time.
This is a photo of Stacy Peralta and Lance mountain during the filming for Stacy's documentary about his company Powell Peralta and their iconic skateboard team called the Bones Brigade. I grew up idealizing that team as a young skater. Fortunately as I progressed over the years I eventually found myself being a part of the team. This photo is huge for me . not only because it reminds me of the journey, but these two people have played the biggest roll with me having a career in skateboarding spanning over 30 years.
My name is Ray Barbee and I live in Long Beach California with my wife and our two sons.
I started skateboarding in summer of '83 and turned pro in 89. That's how I make a living to this day, I'm still a pro skateboarder for Krooked Skateboards, Independent Trucks, Spitfire Wheels and Vans Shoes. Skateboarding is a very rich culture and when I say rich, I mean rich in creativity. music, art, graphic design, cinematography, videography and of course photography.
I started learning how to play guitar shortly after I first picked up a skateboard because of my skater friends. Later because of always being around super gifted skateboard photographers and always seeing their work , I found an increasing desire to shoot photos and make my own beautiful silver gelatin darkroom prints.
I shoot film because I really appreciate the inherent qualities that happen when light passing through the lens, hits the film, and then gets developed with chemicals. Physically what happens in the developing process of rendering the image on the film leaves a visually very pleasing aesthetic that's seen when the neg is printed well in the darkroom on fiber base silver gelatin paper. There's no better experience in photography for me at that point. I really love viewing the print under the light when it's still wet in the tray, the blacks really hit . especially on my favorite paper ILFORD glossy fiber.
I look at it maybe a little differently. Seeing my major influences/inspiration coming from collective individuals / communities that have a common approach a kind of school of thought if you will. The skate photographer camp and the Magnum photographer camp are my biggest influences.
I've gotten a lot of great advice over the years but the one piece that's helped me the most was from my buddy Ray Zimmerman who's skate photography I really dig . He told me to just concentrate on using only one camera, one lens, one developer and one paper when I was first starting out.
I haven't been shooting that much during lock down. I'll shoot a little bit here and there of our shopping experience during the quarantine. Mostly I've been working on writing music for projects I'm a part of. I recently composed a song for a big Vans campaign .
I would say if you're out of ideas, try walking around your house or front yard or backyard if you have one and make a conscious decision to shoot things that don't interest you. Maybe even with a camera you never really use composing in a way that's different than how you typically would compose. Challenge yourself. You might end up with an image that you really dig.
Before everything went down I was working on a panoramic book project. I'm looking forward to getting back to that when the quarantine is over. The gear i'm using is a hasselblad xpan with the 30mm lens and HP5+. i love that lens it really makes that format come to life .
Really, really missing printing in the darkroom. going to make more of an effort to get out to the lab and print more .
This being such a heavy crisis and the fact that we're quarantined means that there's a lot of contemplative thinking happening. Which is great because people are reassessing what they value in life, a lot of that is coming from a humbled place of uncertainty. I hope that frequent soul searching and questioning what you truly value in life doesn't change post coronavirus.
I want to give a shout out to my favorite darkroom. Irvine fine arts community center in Irvine California . All of the volunteer's there are great. Lot's of good people who make up that photo community.
Ted Forbes (the art of photography ) - I dig his artist series
Sean Tucker - It's bit more philosophical but super insightful
Matt Day's channel is nice . lot's of info
Steve's Camera Service Center in Culver City CA. - Steve as done an amazing job fixing my cameras over the years .
Freestyle Photographic Supplies .....not sure if people realize what a huge roll Freestyle plays in keeping traditional darkroom materials around.
Leica store in Los Angeles . - Love that store mainly because of the employees.
My favorite camera is my trusty faithful Leica M6 and 35mm summicron. 80% of what i shoot is with that camera.
My wife Stefanie is an amazing teacher. The district she teaches for went on strike last year, the last strike was 30 years ago. I was out in the rain shooting and documenting it and fried my internal meter in the process . so now I carry a little gossen lightmeter when I go out.
I have been very blessed to have such kind friends.
When i was first getting started with shooting and printing I used my wife's Pentax K1000. When i realized i wanted to use a rangefinder camera instead of an SLR my friend ray Zimmerman gave me a Minolta cle that he found some years prior at a pond shop in Texas. Then shortly after, at an event, I ran into another friend Robbie Jeffers that saw me with the cle and said he had a Leica m6 with a 50mm and 35mm lenses not being used. That's the camera I shoot with to this day.
I have a lot of favorite ILFORD products. My #1 favorite is the ILFORD glossy fiber paper with HP5+ coming in at a close 2nd. I also love processing and pushing my film with ILFOTEC HC . It does such a great job giving me detail in the shadows which is amazing since i'm underexposing 2 to 4 stops for the push.
Without a doubt 16x20 ILFORD Multigrade glossy fiber paper.
I nominate my friend Robbie Jeffers @robbiejeffers on Instagram. He does a lot of good work pushing HP5+ to it's limits.
Ray is an American skateboarder, photographer, and musician from San Jose, California. A humble yet remarkably talented skateboarder, musician and photographer who believes that all 3 passions are crafted by various factors outside of the artist’s control. From making prints in a darkroom to making music in a studio, Ray embraces the imperfections of analogue formats.
You can follow Ray on Instagram @r.barbee
Photo of Ray ©Michael Blabac
All other images ©Ray Barbee
Posted on 4th December 2013
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Posted on 6th November 2018
Posted on 8th May 2020