Bob Barry. Photographer

2 August, 2014
  • Bob Barry - Burrell Kenny 2000
  • Bob Barry - Arturo Sandoval 2012
  • Bob Barry - Nancy Wilson 2004
  • Bob Barry - Roy Hargrove 2012

Bob Barry

Date and place of birth:
3/17/43 Spring Valley NY (just outside NYC)
Place of residence:
LA (Hollywood) CA
How did you ended up in jazz photography, starting from jazz or from photography itself?
I have always been a big jazz fan. I grew up in a home where all kinds of music was listened too and enjoyed, especially "Dixieland" & "Swing." But it was the first time I heard the Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" album that nailed it for me! I loved the different time values. There were two fine musicians in the late 50's named Ed Sauter & Bill Finegan who experimenting with different time values but Brubeck and CO. took it our of the lab and brought to the forefront and a larger audience. Then later on Bossa Nova came into my life opening even more doors.
Is jazz your main activity as a photographer?
Jazz is my personal preference but I consider myself and work as a "Music Industry photographer" and archivist. I shoot recording sessions, concerts, festivals of all genres.
Do you have any other activities related to jazz?
I have played guitar for the last 50 years. 
I am on the board of directors of the California Jazz Foundation a charitable organization that helps jazz artists in need. 
Do you stay in touch with the musicians that you photograph?
I have been fortunate to have made many good, long term friendships with many of the artists I have photographed over the years. They have in many ways become my extended family.
How important are social networks in your work?
It's another way to reach (touch) your audience. We, (Jazz Photographers) live in a "niche" world and although our audience is small, it is also diverse reaching around the globe. Any way I can get my work out there is a good thing in my eyes.
In jazz words, how would you label your most recent work: mainstream, fusion, free, avant-garde…?
My work was best defined by my friend and mentor and great Jazz Photographer Ray Avery who called my work "Performance Portraits". I shoot in available light and during performances. 
Can you tell me 3 features of jazz photography that make it so interesting to your eyes?
It's "In the Moment" happening in real time. "Honesty" in that, what you see is what really happened, (no staging or added lighting) and lastly I think of my archiving work as preserving a pictorial history of the jazz  artists of my time and in my geographic reach.
Do you think that there’s a relationship between the quality of the music in a concert and the quality of the photographs you take there?
No! Not really! However if you define quality as the accessibility you are given and the quality of the lighting and general presentation then I would say yes! 
What side of jazz photography is more attractive to you, the creative side or being a jazz reporter?
My work is not really "journalistic" it is a form of portrait photography as I mentioned earlier, in real time and available light. (very challenging)
Some so called ‘jazz festivals’ diversify their offer in favor of other styles of music. Do you think that this trend is a thread for the consistency of jazz photography? 
Our jazz audience is small percentage wise to the other musical audiences out there and the people who organize these events are thinking only about how many people can we bring in and how much money can we make. Only the smaller festivals can keep their musical venue as pure jazz and only if they are able to get bigger names to headline. It's a battle and we need to educate the younger fans about jazz and develop the next generation of players and their audience.
Can you recommend a contemporary jazz photographer 
Yes I can, William Ellis of Manchester UK. William's work is first class in every way. His work extends from portraiture (see his, to journalistically capturing the greats and the soon to be greats throughout Europe and the USA. 
About two years ago a film maker/documentarian named Dailey Pike came to me and asked if he could do a film about me and my work. After much discussion I agreed and the link I am attaching will take you to the final result, the finished film. It is 59 minutes long and I and Dailey offer this "Jazzumentary" to you and your readers. It is called  Bob Barry - Jazzography in Black & White" and the link is
Thanks Bob.