Documentary photography by Hunter Barnes – artnet news



Jason and Delina, of Roadbook. Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk. “Width =” 866 “height =” 1061 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2015/06/hunter-barnes-3 .jpg 866w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2015/06/hunter-barnes-3-245×300.jpg 245w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload /2015/06/hunter-barnes-3-836×1024.jpg 836w “sizes =” (max-width: 866px) 100vw, 866px “/>

Hunter Barnes, Jason and Delina, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

Documentary photographer Hunter Barnes’ work introduces him to groups of people that most Americans completely ignore: a small Christian sect that revere with poisonous snakes, members of the downtown Blood gang, and the low rider car clubs of the New Mexico desert, to name a few.

These disparate subjects are found in his next book, Travelogue, which offers a fascinating glimpse into a number of obscure American subcultures.

Hunter Barnes, <em>Leroy</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, Leroy, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

Barnes, who owns a studio in Oregon and an apartment in New York City with his wife, has spent much of the past 15 years traveling the country, capturing what he calls “America’s Cross Cuts.”

Last month, the new Hotel Edition, which has already hosted a few star-studded art evenings, hosted a one-night photo exhibition by Travelogue, hosted by actor Dylan McDermott.

Hunter Barnes with his work at the Edition Hotel in New York.  Photo: Aria Isadora, courtesy of BFA.

Hunter Barnes with his work at the Edition Hotel in New York.
Photo: Courtesy of Aria Isadora via BFA.

Most of the footage, taken across the United States, has never been released before. artnet News spoke with Barnes about the photos he took and the people he met on his travels.

“I am really fascinated by the back roads in America,” admitted Barnes. This desire to travel proved to be very fruitful for his photographs.

Hunter Barnes, <em>Dreamer</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, Dreamer, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

On a Lapwai Idaho Native American reservation, for example, Barnes spent his time with the Dreamers, a very traditional and spiritual part of the Nez Perce tribe who still use sweat lodges. (The rest of the reserve, says Barnes, is more engaged in the modern era.)

“They set up a tipi for me and I sweated with them for four months before taking pictures,” he noted. Making friends with her subjects and giving them copies of their portraits is key to her process.

Hunter Barnes, <em>Patrick</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, Patrick, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

That personal connection is what allows Barnes to take intimate, personal snapshots of intimidating characters like Patrick, who hangs out with the low riders in Espinola, New Mexico. “People have to trust me to come into their lives, and it’s up to me to treat them with respect,” added Barnes.

“He’s one of the few photographers who actually live with his subjects before photographing them,” McDermott said in awe. “He really develops relationships. The actor is a photographer himself, but a busy film and television career doesn’t give him the luxury of preparing for a series of Barnes photos.

Hunter Barnes, <em>CA State Game</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, Courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, CA State Game, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

An exception to this rule are the photos Barnes took of prisoners in a maximum security prison in California, whose names he cannot release. Nonetheless, thanks to the gang connections Barnes made during his travels, he had friends who spread the word of his impending arrival, and inmates were open, perhaps surprisingly, to pose for him.

A friend also introduced Barnes to Snakes, a small Christian church in West Virginia, the only state where it’s legal to incorporate poisonous snakes into church services.

Hunter Barnes, <em>A prayer for the will of God</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, A prayer for the will of God, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

One thing he learned right away was how much the group appreciates the distinction between snakes and snakes. “My friend Snook said to me, ‘Honey, anyone can catch a snake, it’s poisonous to handle a snake!’” Barnes told us.

The practice is taken from a King James Bible verse, Mark 16:18, which begins with “they shall take serpents”. In a literal interpretation of this passage, snake handlers catch rattlesnakes from the woods before each service and release them into the wild afterwards.

Although Barnes did not witness any snakebites during his time at church, the practice of snake handling is undoubtedly fatal: Pastor Randy, “a dear friend”, has died of a of them about a year after Barnes’ visit.

Hunter Barnes, a boss, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

Other photos capture a more fleeting connection. One particularly haunting image captures a black man looking tired of the world with a pained look in his eyes. Barnes once met him on the streets of Portland, but “I didn’t feel comfortable asking to have his picture taken.”

Soon after, as Barnes sat on his friend’s porch with a pitcher of water, the man walked by and asked for a glass of water.

Hunter Barnes, <em>MAC</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy of Milk.

Hunter Barnes, MAC, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

“He was having a bad day, I could tell, that day,” Barnes recalls. He never got the name of the stranger, but he did get the photo, taken with a 195 terrestrial camera with Polaroid 66/5 film. “I gave him the Polaroid and kept the negative.”

Hunter Barnes, <em>Matthew</em>, of <em>Roadbook</em>.  Photo: Hunter Barnes, courtesy Milk.

Hunter Barnes, Matthew, of Travelogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Barnes via Milk.

Travelogue, by Hunter Barnes, will be released on October 31, 2015.

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