Riri & Malcolm Barker (nee Girardon)
The Last 44 years
A year or so after leaving Ealing we decided to move to Italy, where Riri’s father offered us some premises which were suitable to set up a studio. We soon made contact with the Bowens importer in Milan and through him and other contacts, began our activity here in Italy.
At that time electronic flash was not widely used, especially for still-life over here, so after our experience at ESP we decided to build our own “bank” using 6 Bowens Multilec heads. The “thing was a monster!” Made of mild steel with an enormous counter weight, not very manoeuvrable at all. However it brought us quite a lot of work as the word got around about the “English window light” No one had thought of photographing a bottle with a 120x150cm light. Also, in that period many advertising agencies in Italy used to go to London to use famous English photographers for their products. (We weren’t famous, but we were on the spot.)
Slowly but surely we built up quite a reputation and became specialised in food photography, wines and spirits and industrial photography. Thanks to our contacts with the importers of photographic equipment we became involved in the promotion of portable lighting equipment; in particular “Window Light” and “Plume Lighting” – (Colorado). For a number of years we demonstrated the products of these companies at the major trade fairs in Europe and equipped ourselves with a totally portable still-life studio which enabled us to satisfy clients all over Italy. Specialising in Salami products (4 clients) wine production and distribution and any situation requiring a fully equipped studio in the most “unthinkable” situations!
Our studio in Milan flourished for over 20 years until in 1995, when we moved to Riri’s family’s village on Lake Como. We adapted to the local work situation, leaving behind the international advertising agencies, and opened a small studio. This survived for a few years, when the “digital bomb” hit the photography business, and every company had someone with an “idiot proof” camera and Photoshop.
Reluctantly we moved on to other pastures!
Firstly, silkscreen printing for water-skis and wakeboards, which then developed into computer graphics and sublimation, until retirement!
Looking back, we are both thankful for our choice to become professional photographers. Every day offered a new challenge, every subject in some way different from the previous one. The satisfaction to see the finished “product”.
In the past 40 or so years we have learnt and experienced so much, working for clients in a multitude of fields, often finding ourselves in exciting and even extreme situations. “When photography was a science and an art”.