Photographer Nigel Barker on His Love of Travel
Below, Barker shares a few thoughts on his travel style and most memorable destinations. Read on, then click through the slideshow above to see some of Barker's favorite photographs from his trips.
Last year I took my family to Sri Lanka, where my mother is from. It’s one of those extraordinary places where in a day you can drive from the mountains to the beach to a rain forest, where you've got leopards and sloth bears and elephants. It’s funny—we have Sri Lankan blood running through our veins, but you don’t necessarily identify with a place until you’re there and a part of you says, Oh, you’re home.
I have all these cheesy routines when I travel. My seven-year-old daughter always hides a teddy bear or something in my bag. I carry a little leather frame with pictures of my family that I put by the bed. And I carry a container for cuff links with the word studs on top that was given to me by my grandfather. I think having these very personal things are a way of grounding yourself and realizing why you’re working so hard.
I’m often shooting in chaotic places like Miami or London, so I look for a hotel that feels like an oasis. The best environment for me is a blank canvas. If I’m going to go back to my room to edit film, I love it if the color palette isn’t jarring. I’m the global brand ambassador for AC Hotels, and that’s a big part of who they are—the aesthetic is very calming.
I try to be organized when I fly. I have a Smythson travel wallet; it’s very large, and it has all these leather dividers for documents, passport, money—all that. I've had it for years, and I use it religiously.
One of my favorite places in the world is Point Clear, Alabama. It’s all hundred-year-old houses and beautiful oak trees with Spanish moss. We stay in the same house year after year. It’s on the Gulf of Mexico, and the sun sets right on our doorstep. You can just sit and watch the pelicans scooping into the water. It’s a true getaway.
Our house is decorated with things from our travels—rugs and lanterns from Morocco, painted elephants from India, glass from Venice. I like to find out what the place is famous for and then go and get the best example of that. And no matter where I am, I will track down a Christmas decoration from that part of the world for my wife. So it’s like a United Nations Christmas tree every year.
The photographer at work in Malaysia.