Erika Barker is a New York City beauty, editorial, and product photographer known for her unique lighting and post-production techniques. She prides herself on the highest level of quality, which stems from her experience as a former military photojournalist. Her client list includes the NFL, Macy’s, DirecTV, Conde Nast, Stila Cosmetics, Spiegel, and much more.
I remember that moment as a curious teenager; the moment I picked up a camera for the very first time, and what a glorious feeling that was. This might have been the initial spark that started my journey into becoming a visual storyteller. It would not be until I became a combat photographer, where the wheels would certainly start to set in motion.
I recall my mentor, PH1 Bobby McRill, who taught me what it meant to be a photojournalist:
“A photojournalist is a photographer who can grab a moment that can make someone laugh, cry, get angry, start or end a war. No other photographer in existence will ever be able to duplicate what that photographer captured.”
I took these words to heart, and Bobby’s mentorship changed the course of my life forever. It was not until PH1 Bobby McRill was killed in action serving in Iraq that I understood how passionate he was about his craft. He died doing what he loved most. After this, I promised myself to be just as passionate as Bobby was and to pass on the knowledge to younger photographers as freely as it was given to me.
My passion began to strengthen once I noticed my work being published. My motivation continued to grow when I traveled to places like Hurricane struck Haiti, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Cuba, showing the world their story. My job of capturing moments that could influence a nation or the world was my definition of photojournalism.
There were many mistakes, quite a bit of yelling, late nights, frustrating hours and tons of stress that have, and continues to mold the person, and photographer I am today. My experiences with documenting starving children, fellow service members, people who lost their homes, and detainees in Guantanamo Bay have reached beyond the lens, touching my very soul, and has helped me understand more than what meets the eye. It opened my heart, to not just simply take a photo, but connect emotionally and tell a great story.
Today as a civilian, I remember the lessons and experiences I learned as a combat photographer. Passion and dedication for photography runs deep into my bones and makes up the very fabric of my being. I don’t photograph for the money or fame; I do this simply for the love of capturing a moment that will either make a tear fall from your eye, or a smile comes across your face.
My unique photojournalism style is now incorporated into my studio, commercial, and fashion photography shoots. I never capture a posed reaction; I always capture something natural, and wonderful. I find true beauty comes in short burst, and it is my job to capture the split second reaction.
Everyone has a natural elegance, and beauty. Sometimes it’s hidden, but I always find a way to bring it out of people with humor, honesty, and passion.