Artist Statement

Portraiture is more than art, it is knowledge.  I am compelled to make photographs of my sitters in the same way that a biographer is compelled to tell a person's story.  Every image I make is made with the utmost care and respect for my subject.  In order to make a portrait of a person, they must place their trust in me and I aim always to be worthy of that trust.  

My intention has always been to explore a person’s face and body, not to alter it. I want to find the camera angle from which my sitter can be the most that they can be – whatever that is.  If they have a grace to their limbs, then I will photograph them from the angle at which that grace becomes the absolute most it can be at that very moment.  Everyone, without exception, has a beauty to reveal and I will light them and photograph them from the angle which allows me to capture that beauty faithfully and with kindness.

This leads me on to explore angles, space, reflections and light.  I strive to make forms which make sense to the eye and trust that the visual poetry will naturally follow.  My practice is, by its very nature, ephemeral.  Photography uses the manipulation of light to describe a truth that might only have been apparent to the artist before the shutter opens and closes.  Yet my portraiture involves being faithful to my sitters' vision of themselves, whilst inviting the viewer into their private world, to share in their emotions and hopes, if only for a moment.

I work with musicians, performing artists, athletes and a wide variety of men and women with stories to tell, both on location and in the studio.  I make my living by treating my professional assignments as art.  When I make personal work, my subjects deserve no less than that same professional rigour.  

As a lifelong student of portrait lighting, I take my studio with me and I work in the field with cinematic lighting equipment to achieve the look and feel that my work requires.


Charlotte Barnes is based in West London and has been making photographic portraits for over a decade.