JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
BARNEY COUCH: A zoologist. I’m still growing up, and as I look hesitantly to throwing off the shackles of teenager-dom, I’m not much closer to knowing what I want to be.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
BC: I keep a folder called “inspiration” on my computer, and whenever I see an image I like I save it in there. The last 4 photos I added are by Jeff Rich, Spencer Tunick, Jenny Riffle, and Peter Byrne. I’ve probably been most inspired by Jason Eskenazi and Patrick Brown’s documentary work recently, and portraits from Jody Rogac and Tim Schutsky.
JC: What are you up to right now?
BC: I’m packing my cameras and clothes to go back home after another term at university. And waiting to get a lot of film back from my trip to India over Christmas - the light there is unreal.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
BC: I guess not. I’ve assisted a few times and had some colour darkroom tuition recently, but apart from that I’ve gone solo. I think it’s important to figure a lot of stuff out yourself, learning by errors and happy accidents rather than being told how to shoot.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
BC: I’m based in Cambridge, in my second year at university here. It’s a crazy and beautiful place, and the best part is undoubtedly the people: nowhere else have I encountered such a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints. Everything you think is questioned, reshaped, refined. People aren’t afraid to give their view. I admire that.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
BC: I never studied photography, or even art, so I’m hardly qualified to answer this. One piece of advice I’ve seen many times is: “keep plugging away”. I think there’s a lot of value in that: if you’re feeling uninspired, or haven’t had any good jobs come up, just go out and shoot, whatever. The inspiration comes, the opportunities arise, it gets better.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
BC: I don’t have a plan B, but I don’t have a plan A either. And I don’t think I’d ever say everything has failed.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
BC: Yes. But I’m happy alone too.