George Barnett’s Surreal Wilderness Photography
George Barnett’s Polaroid photographs recount tales as timeless and storied as the woods themselves. At only 20 years old, the Kentucky native offers furtive glimpses of not only the mystery found in nature, but also the inherent maturity. Over the last 6 years of captured memories, Filson has become George’s weathered travel partner; a central subject in his surreal work as well as his means of toting cameras and equipment. Filson had a chance to interview this burgeoning artist about his passion for photography and adventure.
How would you describe your photography in 5 words or less?
Real, surreal, honest, existing, living.
What are your five must-have items in the wilderness?
My Filson Medium Field bag (has 2-3 cameras in it along with my film, water and some survival tools), my Winchester hunting knife, my brass wolf necklace, Filson Shelter Cloth Jacket (hood attached if raining), and a nice pair of reliable boots to walk around in.
When or where are you the happiest?
I’m naturally happiest around my son, wherever we could be. But in terms of photography, it’s usually the wild. I get so excited when I realize that where I’m at is untouched or long-touched. I’m planning a trip to Alaska and I’m sure that will be the real answer to this question.
Who are your favorite photographers?
Ansel Adams, Rob Spicer, I appreciate so many different types of work. I love so many people’s work it’s hard to pick an actual favorite, but Ansel just had it figured out. Almost to an eerie level.
If you could re-live the life of one other person, who would it be, and why?
A trapper from the earlier days, that way I could have taught myself all I needed to survive. Maybe an oil man.
What attracted you to photography, and more specifically, Polaroid?
I got into photography around 2006. My family and I went to my brother’s graduation from boot camp in North Carolina. On the way home I took a snapshot of the sun falling behind the wooded hills. When it developed I knew I felt something that I wanted to feel again. Polaroid came about after researching its history and simply falling in love with its characteristics and its flaws.
If you could travel to shoot photographs anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d love to go to Alaska, Montana, and Canada. Take some new Filson products with me and capture myself and friends using them.
If you had one inanimate object that you could deem your “best friend,” what would it be?
The Original Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, the camera I use most often.
How did you find Filson?
A friend of mine was wearing a Weekender Jacket and I was so impressed with its quality, checked out the site, and then placed an order. Then, I realized that Filson was the real deal.
What’s next for you George?
Traveling, publishing my work, enjoying the winter months, and playing with my son, Levi. Hopefully get some advertisement jobs to shoot. Just enjoying life as much as I can, as well as documenting it. You only live one life, so, “You Might as Well Have the Best.”