Nigel Barker – Raw Like Sushi


“I have always been inspired by authenticity, honesty and basically the raw truth. So I set out to create a series of portraits of people who live life to the fullest, people who provoke and emote.”

RAW is the latest series of portraits by renowned British photographer Nigel Barker and features dynamic images of über cool characters, all wearing their favorite denim pieces. The pictures include fashion ‘jean-ious’ Lucien Etori, acclaimed artist Shantell Martin, actor Alan Cumming, designers Cynthia Rowley, Betsey Johnson and Nicki Muller, who as a teenager was diagnosed with bone cancer (osteosarcoma) and fought a brave battle for eight years, whilst simultaneously working on several creative projects with Barker.

“I don’t have a favorite shot as each moment caught on Digiloid is unique. We have everything from tears of joy, to tears of sadness and no tears at all! I like to play music that my subject is into to get them to open up and relax. I talk constantly with my subject so that the narrative in the photo is directly connected with what we are talking about.”

The ubiquitous Mr. Barker got his first camera, a Kodak Brownie that shot 120 medium format films, when he was twelve years old. As a child, Barker had no aspirations of be- coming a photographer until he was in his twenties. Fashion, however, was always something in which Barker was interested, studying design, pattern cutting and tailoring as a teenager be- fore become a model and then eventually transitioning to the other side of the camera. Barker now juggles photography with his many other pursuits. After 17 seasons as the judge on the phenomenally successful America’s Next Top Model, he is currently hosting Oxygen Network’s The Face, alongside Naomi Campbell.

“I guess the biggest irony is that I received my big break into the modeling world in 1989 by becoming a finalist on one of the first televised UK model searches called The Clothes Show with British Designer, Jeff Banks. So when fourteen years later as a photographer trying to make an impression in New York, I was offered the opportunity of shooting an episode of this new cult show America’s Next Top Model, I wasn’t as hesitant as many folk were at the time. You have to remember that in 2003 reality TV was still relatively new territory especially for the exclusive world of high fashion.”

We have everything from tears of joy, to tears of sadness and no tears at all!

New endeavors on the horizon for Barker bring modeling very much back into focus as well as a film project on human rights, which is close to Barker’s heart.

“I am working on my second book about the history of modeling with Harper Collins. [I’m] also working on a screenplay about the life and times of human rights activist David Mixner with the hopes of directing my first feature film. Although, to be honest, my biggest and most important projects are helping to guide my two children Jack and Jasmine to be as creative and caring as they can be.”




Text by Keanan Duffty
Photography by Nigel Barker