Photographer Profile: Adam Barker Balances Speed and Light

In the 2018 Photo Annual, we asked seven photographers to dish on the inspiration behind a favorite photo of their choosing. These featured photographers capture the landscapes, community and emotion that that evoke the untracked experience, from dawn’s light to skintracks cutting across a blank white canvas.

Adam Barker, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, discusses the finer points of capturing speed and light.

Barker masters the art of the selfie.

This was from a great day in the Snowbird backcountry. It was pretty early in the season, but we got access to some great snow. From a photographic standpoint, it was a challenging day because we didn’t have a lot of light to work with, and light is king. 

If you don’t have light, you have to figure out another way to make the photo engaging—that either has to be ridiculous ski action or you have to implement some other kind of photographic technique that stops page-turners. So a lot of the time when I don’t have light, I try to shoot motion-blur photos like this. 

Connery Lundin | Wasatch Mountains, Utah | Photo: Adam Barker

Essentially it involves trying to shoot at faster shutter speeds while panning with the athlete. If you do it right, the athlete’s sharp and the background is blurred. It gives the feeling of a lot of speed and motion in the shot, but the nature of this type of technique is that your keeper-to-throwaway ratio is really slim. It’s not easy to get a sharp athlete and a blurry background. 

Connery Lundin and I did this a few times. It was our first day working together, and I told him, “The faster you go, the better.” And this worked out well as a black-and-white photo because the speed-and-motion blur gives you that stark separation between subject and background.

To view more of Barker’s work, visit

Speak Your Mind