A Photography Blog

/rachel hulin

Editorial, Interviews

Coming to the Table with Lincoln Barbour

It’s nice to check in with our favorite photographer friends and see how the year’s been treating them. And also to get some scoops about what work they’ve been making, and how they’ve been making it. Enter Lincoln Barbour, who’s working out of Portland, Oregon, and making some delicious new pictures. I asked him about his pics and processes.. read away.

Hi Lincoln! It’s been a while since we checked in with you. Tell us what you’ve been up to.

Well, I’m happy to report that I survived the Great Recession and actually had a slightly above average year in 2010. It was a little scary there for a while, but things seem to be on the ups. If it weren’t for my local client base, I would have totally gone out of business. So, I’m really grateful I’ve built that core group of clients and I treat them like gold.

Now that things are picking up, I’m focusing my career towards my three favorite subjects: Food, Home/Interiors, and Lifestyle. There’s an inherent connection between them in that life at home often revolves around cooking tasty meals. It’s my trifecta for a happy times. I feel my style and approach to photography is really suited for this kind of work. I’m a very easy going person, love creature comforts, but I’m also a camera nerd. I shoot as natural as possible, but I’m also very technical when I’m behind the camera. I mix available light with Profoto strobes, Arri hot lights, Photoflex LiteDiscs, foam core, etc.. And when I shoot, I create conditions that allow for real life moments to happen and capture them as they do.

Also my biggest 2011 resolution was to be more diligent on my marketing. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but the email/print promos I’ve always done sporadically. This year I have a plan: email blast once a month, follow up with a hand addressed print piece to buyers who clicked through, follow that up with a personal email, and then do a big mass print mailer twice a year. I’m going to then set up portfolio trips to NYC, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago throughout the year. I’m advertising on Wonderful Machine, FoundFolios, Dripbook, and Google. I also have portfolios on ASMP, EP, and APA. It’s a lot to manage and I would say about half my time is dedicated to it.

I hear you’re starting to shoot some food photography… tell me how you got interested in that, and what the process/learning curve has been.

Two years ago, the then Creative Director of Portland Monthly (Hector Sanchez) gave me a feature assignment to shoot the Best Breakfast of Portland. He had a philosophy to give photographers assignments that were outside their comfort zones. I had never shot food seriously, but I’ve shot a lot of architecture and landscapes. I basically took the same approach to the assignment and ended up creating images I was really in love with. It was like seeing what I like about photography for the first time in my own voice. It was exciting and I wanted to do more of it. The problem is I had no clients in need of food photography. So, for the past two years I’ve been slowly building up a solid food portfolio and now that it’s ready, I’m pushing it really hard.

What was your favorite shot from last year?

This one. I shot it for Willamette Week’s 2010 Restaurant Guide to Portland. Art Directed by Carolyn Richardson, she saw my food and lifestyle work and had a vision for this shot. It was a really small budget shoot, but all the elements came together. Cool people, beautiful food, a great environment. If there’s one shot that describes what I am as a photographer, this is it.

How awesome is this??

Can you share with us the process of making a photo? Perhaps choose an interesting shot and walk us through its inception to the final product.

The process is a little different for every shoot and very different if I’m shooting food, interiors, or lifestyle. So, I’ll run you through a general scenario. First step is to define what I’m shooting and how I’m going to shoot it. Is it on location or studio? Are there people in the shot? What kind of approach are we going to take and how many shots can we do in the time we have? After the details are squared away, it’s time for the shoot.

On an average sized production, I’ll bring all my gear which includes Canon 5D Mark II with primes, tilt-shifts, macros, and a pair of zooms; a pair of tripods; 4 Profoto Compact 600 Monolights, 4 Arri 650 Watt Tungsten Lights, 6 Arri 150 Watt Tungsten Lights, a dozen oval Photoflex LightDisc in either Translucent, White/Silver, or White/Soft Gold, a big case of grip, and about 20 light stands. I also bring a MacBook Pro and shoot tethered whenever possible.

When we arrive to set/location, my assistant will unload and set up the camera, laptop, and a couple lights to get us started. I compose the shot in my head first, then I’ll get the camera and put it on tripod to find the shot I saw in my head. I then do Live View to show the client where we’re at. After refining the shot, I start to light it. I see what we have working for us available light and then start adding strobes for fill and/or to create shape. My go to technique to bounce a strobe into a wall or reflector that is between 45° and 90° from the camera. I taught a class on architecture last year and have a PDF about some of these techniques here.

While we shoot, the client will sign off on the shots he/she sees on the laptop. At the end of the day we do a quick review and make sure everyone’s happy. Then we pack up neatly and restore the location to what it was before we showed up. When I get back to my office, I download and process everything in Lightroom. I then show proofs and deliver finals through my Photoshelter account. It’s hella fast.

Which other photographers are making work you’re excited about right now?

I’m part of collective of photographers called PhotoForce and I’m really excited by the work everyone in the group does. Besides me, it’s Daniel Root, Brian Lee, Steven Scardina, and Stuart Mullenberg. We all have our specialties and we collaborate on pro bono and for-profit projects throughout the year. On our site right now is a project we all shot for the Oregon Food Bank. We just finished up a project for Big Brothers / Big Sisters and will get more images up there soon. PhotoForce is still in its infancy, but I’m really excited to be a part of it. All the photographers are incredibly talented and by committing to working together, reviewing each others’ work, we create a great support network that all pushes us forward and upwards. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling on their own.

photo by Daniel Root

See more from Lincoln Barbour!


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