Our early summer art show 2023: Maine artist, Barbara Girard alters her cameras to capture stunning infrared photographic images usually invisible to the human eye.
View the collection here:
Barbara Girard wandered into the shop along with a friend last winter, when the weather was cold and bleak. The friend accompanying her mentioned her artwork: photographs of botanicals and nature, taken with cameras that have been altered to capture infrared light rather than the full spectrum we are accustomed to seeing. I was immediately intrigued, and we began a conversation about showing her work later in the year. Several weeks went by before I heard from her again, and I feared she may have changed her mind about the show. Fortunately, that was not the case.
Barbara Girard graduated with a degree in Photographic Communications from Northwest College in 2007. She originally set out with the goal of studying photojournalism, until one fateful day when she attended a hot air balloon festival. Partway through the day, a freak wind storm overtook the festival, and Barbara found herself standing on the ground staring up at the sky, completely mesmerized by the colliding hot air balloons. When the unexpected excitement had ended, she realized she had witnessed the entire thing without taking a single photograph, and soonafter decided that she simply wasn’t cut out for the journalistic aspect of photography. She then changed her focus to the more artistic aspects of the field, concentrating on fine art and capturing light in simple and dramatic ways.
In her early college years, Barbara was introduced to the process of infrared photography by her professor and mentor, Gary Bakken. At that time, digital photography was beginning to flood the market and Barbara felt like a lot of photography was beginning to look all the same. She was seeking a new way to create art that would stand out as unique and challenge her creativity in new ways.
Infrared light has both longer wavelengths and a lower energy field than visible light. While many insects, vampire bats, and certain species of snakes can see infrared light, it remains invisible to most living creatures including humans.
This process of infrared photography opened up a whole new world of artistic expression for Barbara, literally allowing her to see her subjects in a new light. As she became more acclimated and proficient with this new process, she also became more entranced with the images she was able to create.
The images in this collection are from Barbara’s infrared body of work. They are the captured infrared light usually invisible to the human eye.
The process of taking these images requires converting a camera body to recognize the infrared light. This process is irreversible, and renders the camera unable to capture the full spectrum light we usually expect to see in most photos.
The process of converting a camera to infrared allows for variation of the amount of visible spectrum that remains in the resulting photos. Barbara works with cameras that block all but ten percent of the visible spectrum, resulting in a bit of color still remaining in the image. In the majority of her photos, she will then pull the color back out during processing to make it look more like a true infrared, although in a select few works she prefers to leave that small amount of color remaining.
In the years since college, Barbara has worked primarily with portraiture and artistic photography. For more than a decade, Barbara’s cameras have been her constant companions, allowing her to document whatever she finds interesting in her day-to-day encounters. Circumstances in the past few years have somewhat limited Barbara’s ability to be in constant photograph mode, but she still continues to work with the medium regularly, and clearly her eye for capturing drama and simplicity in a single image has not been hindered by this.
Quality light is Barbara’s greatest inspiration. A simple subject can be made great, or a great subject become boring, based solely on the light present and how skillfully it is captured.
While Barbara finds great satisfaction with her fine art compositions, portraiture, and professional work, her true passion continues to lie in the simplicity of photojournaling moments from her own life. Giving herself the freedom to enter that much quieter, less chaotic world where it’s just her view through the lens...a little grainy, an occasional blur. This is when Barbara feels the most free and creative: photographing nothing in particular, just her and the lens.
Barbara’s works will continue to hang in the Briar & Bone gallery through the month of July.
Please come visit us in person, or you can view the collection here: