I Am Me - Fall 2015
Interview with Photographer Barry Byrd - Photos by Ricky Davis of TRD Photography
IAMM – What shaped who you as a person
Barry – I think that some unfortunate life
events, in my case losing someone you care
about a lot, in my case losing my fiancée a
couple of weeks before our wedding. It was
unexpected. I had been a loner in my life
pretty much till I met her. It was the whole
deal, we clicked, everything felt right and
having that taken away all of a sudden. It put
me in a dark place for a while.
IAMM – How did you start to deal with that
Barry – I realized that I was the only person
that could help me get any better. I started
going out on walks for a little while. I
started seeing stuff that started catching
my eye while I was out walking around. Stuff
like old architecture on buildings and other
odds and ends. I thought, well I’ll go get a
camera and start taking some pictures of
some of these things. I had just moved to
Knoxville from Atlanta and thought I’d post
them on Facebook for some of my buddies to
see where I’m at. It was really helping me on
an emotional level, and then other people
just started liking it too. Some gallery
people liked my work too. I didn’t really
know what I was doing but I met some people
and they showed me how to take better
pictures. And that’s been my life ever since
I started. I still miss Courtney and I still
think about her a lot. But at least I feel like
I’m doing something positive with my life.
Which she was a really independent person,
and a hard worker, and I know it’s what she
would want me to do is to keep on going and
be doing something that makes me happy.
IAMM – How would you describe your style?
Barry – I think that losing my fiancée, maybe
losing my mom when I was younger, maybe
helped to shape kind of my style a little
more. I tend to do things a little darker. So
maybe some of that loss has helped to shape
kind of what I see, and how I feel things. I
look for pictures that kind of speak to me.
IAMM – How did Courtney pass away?
Barry – She had been in a car wreck with her
Mom when she was a kid. She had back
complications from it. So she had to take pain
medications for it. One night she took two
different ones, a friend had given her one
and another friend had given her a different
one. They didn’t mix. She fell asleep and she
just never woke up. She died in her sleep of
respiratory failure. She was only
twenty-seven. It was so hard to get over
because she was such a good person. I knew
she would have done so much good with her
life. She would have contributed so much to
our society. I was lucky to have known her
life I did, and not everybody gets that. Some
people go through life without ever meeting
their soulmate, or finding love, and I did. I
had several years with her. So I try to remind
myself of that. That I had it, even if I never
IAMM – How has your photography helped you
in dealing with your past?
Barry – To be honest, some of it to start with
was just a mindless task. Just a time killer. I
was doing something to keep myself busy, and
it helped. It doesn’t sound great or very
valiant, but it really helped to focus on
something else. I fell in love with it almost
immediately after I started learning more
about it. Which was really good because I
didn’t think I’d feel anything again.
Barry (continued) I didn’t feel anything for people, for friends,
for family, for food, for nothing. I was just wondering why I
was still here, and what was my purpose. Now I feel like I have
a purpose. I’m forty-three, and older, so there’s a good chance
that I won’t get married or have a family, so this will be legacy.
It’s the only thing I can leave behind that’s attached to my name.
So these photos will always be there. I did something besides
just exist. I created something out of something that wasn’t a
really good situation.
IAMM – When you shoot people, your work is more natural,
gritty, and less polished. I’ve found that sometimes people
relate more to that style rather than the overly photoshopped,
glamour type work. What attracted you to that style?
Barry – I’ve tried those methods but eventually came back to
what I do. It’s more me. Part of it’s that I’m not that talented
yet. I just want it to look like how I saw it. I’ve had a couple
models get irritated for not airbrushing them or taking
something out. I’d just rather not use that image rather than
make them someone that they aren’t. I’m not gonna change your
body weight or skin tones. I want them to be natural and I want
them to blend in with the environment. Most of these places
are gritty and rundown looking. Some of my favorite
photographers do the other styles. Maybe at some point I’ll get
to where I can do more of that type of stuff because I don’t
want to be pinned into one certain thing. I want to have
IAMM - Where do you want your work to go?
Barry – I want to go more towards the photojournalism,
documentary style. At least with my people work. I want to use
my camera to document and to catch moments in life. I want to
travel and take as many pictures as possible. To be able to do
this and not have to have a full time job would be ideal. When
you work forty hours a week, and you edit thirty hours a week,
and you shoot twenty hours a week, it gets rough.
I truly hope that you enjoyed reading some of Barry's story. I hope that you may see a little behind this man and his lens. If you would like to read his story, and several more stories from people like you, and see behind their eyes, feel free to check out the Fall 2015 issue of I Am Me available below.