Jim Barber is the photographer behind the camera that captured the cover photo for the Reporter’s 2017 Welcome Home Magazine. The magazine, which debuted last week, features FitCo Health Club owners Stacy Bryant and Daniel Stickler and their families in front of the iconic Monroe County courthouse on its cover.
Barber said the shot was challenging in that it incorporated eight people, including two toddlers who were never looking in the same direction at the same time. All of the subjects could only get together in the afternoon. He chose the courthouse as the backdrop, studied the lighting for the optimal side of it at the available time and brought in the best flash equipment for the setting.
“I took about 35 exposures,” said Barber. “It was so fun; I’m glad I had that experience.”
He actually has over two decades of professional photography experience, beginning with an emphasis on wedding photography in 1996. Many of those whose weddings he photographed returned to him for family portraits periodically, and he stayed busy with this type of photography for over a dozen years. However, he commented that the 12-hour marathon of taking pictures on a wedding day is “a young man’s game.”
Barber said that one of his favorite places in Forsyth to photograph families is the Stone Depot on Adams Street because it creates an interesting setting.
For the last decade or so, Barber said he has “re-focused” his camera work to serve the needs of businesses, especially real estate. He cited research that shows increased visits, faster sales and more revenue derived from homes and commercial properties marketed by pictures done with professional techniques to show the properties to best advantage.
“When negotiating with a real estate agent, a home seller should insist on a professional photographer,” said Barber.
He said the secret to success in photographing real estate is a lot of flash equipment and a 16 mm lens, which captures a wider angle of view and reveals how spacious rooms are. He uses a multiple exposure technique, taking three or four exposures from an angle on his tripod and then taking the best points and compiling them into a finished image.
“The computer is now the darkroom of today,” he explained.
Balancing interior and exterior lighting, he said that he usually invests about 10 hours in travel, shooting and computer time to create a set of photos to advertise each property. He also works with businesses to capture products, staff, buildings and more for marketing purposes.
Barber bought his first camera in 1979 as he and his wife planned a trip to Hawaii.
“I was fumbling with that camera for a week in paradise, but I developed a love for photography,” he said.
Barber completed a 44-year career as a respiratory therapist with retirement in 2015. He said the 12-hour, three-day week of a hospital worker let him pursue his photography full time concurrently with part of his respiratory therapy career.
“By nature, I’m an analytical person. Photography helps me get in touch with my creative side,” said Barber. “I get a lot of pleasure from my photographic efforts.”
As well as his work in real estate and other commercial photography, he is the feature photographer for a Macon magazine that keeps him busy. Of course, he also captures photos of grandchildren and other family members and said his wife loves his spontaneous pictures.
Barber moved to northern Monroe County from Macon about 10 years ago to be closer to his daughter and her family. He said he has “red clay in his veins,” calling various parts of Georgia home from his mid-teens on. He operates “Impressive Images Photography” from his home. His goal is to provide photographic services “Beyond the Ordinary” for those who would like to use his experience and talent.