Barry McCall, fashion and celebrity photographer, answers a few questions about his recently published retrospective, Pho20graphy, all proceeds for which go to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). Be sure to check out the video and information at the end of the interview!
Byrneholics: Your new book, Pho20graphy, is amazing! How did you decide which photos to include? What were your criteria?
Barry: The process of choosing the right images was a difficult one…We were trying to strike a balance… between the fashion and portraits, the new and the old images…also the images needed to flow with ease and at a nice pace…just to make the viewing experience as pleasurable as possible. There were a lot of “Sophie’s Choice” moments as I had to leave out some of my favourite images because they just did not work within the context of the book.
Byrneholics: Why did you choose the ISPCC as the cause you wanted to support? Not many artists would give all of the proceeds to one particular cause, so this is an extra special commitment from you–kudos to you!
Barry: I tried to explain within my introduction that the main driving force behind the book was the loss of my mother this year. Upon reflection I realised what a fantastic childhood I had… the freedom, love, encouragement and support of my Mom and Dad helped me become the person I am today…I just wished all children could have the same happy carefree childhood that I’ve had. The ISPCC is Ireland’s oldest children’s charity and it helps so many kids each year, I had no hesitation in donating all the profits to the charity.
Byrneholics: You have been a successful photographer for quite awhile now. Do you love it as much as when you started? Are you interested in other endeavors, like writing or film? And what is your next project?
Barry: Yep, I’ve been in business since 1990…it’s flown… my twenties and thirties are just one big blur of long days in studios, darkrooms, locations and models… Still loving every shoot as much as I did when I started…I will be working on some small video projects and some one else’s book…
photo ©James Horan/Collins Photos
Byrneholics: Now, on to the Gabriel Byrne photoshoot for Pho20graphy: Have you known Gabriel Byrne for very long? If not, how did you get to know him so well that you could capture him in your photograph so perfectly?
Barry: Would you believe it was the first time I met him!… We got on really well… Gabriel’s nature is to put everyone at ease around him…he loved the styling and the location…a disused factory in Dublin’s city centre. The crew all loved him…after all he is one of Ireland’s greatest legends and exports!
Byrneholics: How long did the photoshoot last?
Barry: The session was a half day (4 hours)…he flew in and afterwards he sat around and chatted with the crew for ages.
Byrneholics: Was it mostly fun or mostly work? From some of the candids, it looks like it was mostly fun!
Barry: There would be a certain amount of pressure when working on a session like this…you have to make sure you have your shot and the artist needs to feel that the images are good for him, too. But all this aside, it was a real blast… Gabriel was on my original wish list when the book was in its infancy so it was great to get him…well worth the wait.
Byrneholics: Did you have ideas about how you wanted the shoot to go when you started? Did Gabriel have ideas?
Barry: Pretty much so…I really wanted to be out of the studio…on a gritty location in his old home town… (not too far from where he grew up). We kept all the styling really classic and we used natural light which works really well with Gabriel’s eyes. I showed him my first few test shots so he knew what I wanted…then he just turned it on… sometimes the job is that simple…
Byrneholics: How did you choose his wardrobe?
Barry: I just asked the stylist for something classic and black so nothing would take away from the mood in the images… quite contemplative.
Byrneholics: How many pictures did you actually take? Will you sell some on the black market? (just kidding–sort of…)
Barry: I probably took about 1200…but I probably had my shot in the first 100 frames! [Note from Stella: OMG to get our hands on these pictures, yes?!]
Byrneholics: Did you swap stories?
Barry: Yeah, we chatted away about lots of stuff…mostly Dublin, old characters…movies, lighting etc…just down to earth stuff…after all, we Irish just love to chat about anything.
Byrneholics: Say anything you want to about the shoot–Byrneholics the world over are intensely interested!
Barry: It was a real thrill to work with Gabriel…little did I know when I was a struggling assistant…that not only would I be doing this book, but I would be working with Gabriel Byrne….need I say more…I can retire!
Many thanks to Barry for taking the time to answer our questions!
Pho20graphy: Behind the Scenes Video: “A brief look at the printing of the Pho20graphy book this September. Look at all that paper! That’s only a fraction of the sheets that went into the completed book.”
From the Pho20graphy Community Facebook Page:
PHO20GRAPHY by Barry McCall is a 20 year retrospective of his images, including celebrity portraits shot around the world and his favourite fashion shoots from over the years. It is being sold exclusively in Brown Thomas and BT2 stores across Ireland. The book, in aid of the ISPCC and in partnership with Brown Thomas, retails at €80 with every euro from the proceeds being donated to the ISPCC, Ireland’s oldest children’s charity.
Throughout Barry’s career his love for classic art, old movies and fashion has been a constant source of inspiration for his work. With over 350 pages and 300 images PHO20GRAPHY promises to be a book that people will truly treasure with images ranging from Liam Neeson in his family apartment in New York City to Snow Patrol in Red Square; Colin Farrell on a hotel roof in LA and John Kavanagh on the Abbey Theatre stage; Claudia Schiffer and Sophie Dahl; Erin O’Connor and Yasmin Le Bon; Gabriel Byrne and Anjelica Huston; Sienna Miller and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. A beautiful selection of Barry’s film and print fashion shoots take us back to the early days of his career. In each and every shot he has captured the essence of the subject and the style.
PHO20GRAPHY has allowed Barry to share some of the images that have been such a joy for him to capture throughout his career, while also supporting an important charity. The project was born when Barry, along with partner Kari and good friend Dylan Bradshaw, approached Caroline Downey Desmond, director and voluntary fundraiser for the ISPCC, with an initial concept for a smaller magazine spread of celebrity portraits. As talks progressed the project grew into the coffee table book available today.
Be sure to visit the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to learn more about their work and to purchase the book online!