Bird's Nest, by Mandy Barker
Photographer Mandy Barker couldn’t stop collecting, cataloguing, and photographing trash. The 48-year-old from Leeds, England, picked ocean debris as the central theme of a school photography project. She often went to the beach three times a week for collecting, and sometimes filled multiple bags from just a few hours of walking the shoreline, yet she still couldn’t stop gathering when she went on pleasure jaunts. “I’d just find myself drawn to picking things up,” she says. “I should just be out with friends, but I find I just can’t walk past things.” Her passion paid off. She began photography classes five years ago, earned a Masters this past July, and was recently nominated for a Prix Pictet award for “Soup,” a collection of images that showcase groups of marine debris. We called her at home in England to find out how she made old trash look so good.
View a gallery of Soup.
Was “Soup” the first big photo project that you’ve done?
No. For the last four years I’ve done all sorts of types of photography. I did a project before “Soup” called “Indefinite.” That’s about different types of debris and the amount of years it takes to decompose. I made a book about it, and each caption was just the amount of years. It’s just sort of to hit home on how long these things last out there.
1 year, by Mandy Barker
How much trash do you have?
Well, I’ve had to get a small shed to put it in. I do have quite a lot. I do have stuff that I’m quite precious about. Really unusual things I have in boxes, and it’s all catalogued and listed. And I have several drawers and boxes. I have things outside that are in sacks. For example, floating buoys, which are made of thick plastic that cracks. So I have sacks of fragmented fishing buoys outside. So, yeah, quite a lot. I don’t throw anything away.