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Behind the screen insights: Paul Barton, Director of Photography

August 5, 2022 BY EPM Agency

Say hello to Paul Barton, Director of Photography in Digital Services here at EPM! We’ve asked him about how he ended up in the role and got an insight into some of the incredible experiences he's had throughout his career.

Can you tell us about your career journey and how you got here?

It's a long story. After I left school, I did an art foundation course at St Helen's College of Art and fell in love with photography. From there, I got a place at the London College of Printing. After the first two years of study, keen to explore the world and looking for inspiration for my photography, I decided to take a gap year. I rode to Nepal on my Honda motorcycle, only turning around when I got to the border with Tibet.

On my return, whilst in my third year at college, I was shooting album covers in an old warehouse near Tower Bridge, that we had turned into a studio.
At the end of my final show, a production company asked me if I would rig out a camera truck and take a film crew around the country to shoot a BFI film. I was loading the magazines, doing the grip work, and learning lots about filming on location.

The company then gave me a lot of work and one day, a producer said, "Here, you shoot this scene", so I started shooting for them and never looked back. I worked on a whole range of projects, from period dramas to music videos, shooting for directors including the wonderful Derek Jarman and David Bailey.

I then set up my own camera and editing film facilities company in Soho, just by Carnaby St and was shooting films for many leading production companies. In those days, Soho was the hub of the film industry. The technology was costly, so everybody came to London to shoot the big jobs. It was an inspiring time.

For several years, I worked as a director of photography on various drama series and it was on one of these that I met my wife, who was a costume designer. When our children came along, months spent filming dramas away from home became less conducive to family life. So I moved into shooting more commercial projects, including title sequences and trailers for all the major terrestrial channels. I shot title sequences for Doctor Who, Blue Peter, Eastenders, Channel 4 News, LWT and many more.


The commercial projects that I have worked on over the last 30 years have included a lot of automotive shoots, which I really enjoy, not least because they have taken me to some fantastic locations around the world. Imagine shooting a 360-degree pack shot of a Jaguar F Type whilst travelling at 100mph down the main straight of a Grand Prix circuit! They also often have budgets that allow us to use state-of-the-art film kits.

I've been so lucky to have had the opportunity to shoot in places as diverse as the Arizona desert and the Arctic Circle, filming in -50 degrees, with dog sleighs and cars racing across frozen lakes. There's never a dull moment!

Can you tell us about some of the memorable moments from your career?

There have been so many highlights. One particularly exhilarating shoot was on location in New York, where I was filming from a helicopter, sitting out of the side with the doors off, with my feet on the skids, wind in my face, headphones on, telling the pilot where I wanted to go to get shots.

At golden hour we circled the Statue of Liberty and tracked along the waterfront at high speed, then onto the avenues of uptown Manhattan where the avenues looked like rivers of gold with all the car headlights. It was a wonderful job and included follow-on scenes in major cities around the world.

I've been so fortunate in my career to have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful and very creative people. I've also had the privilege of filming some extraordinary and moving subjects, from filming in operating theatres to spending time with indigenous people in the Amazon jungle.

How has it been working for EPM?

I'm currently working on a promotional film for EPM in collaboration with the rest of the fantastic people at the company. The visual premise of the film is that all our modern devices, which are in essence' electro pages', are becoming the primary form of communication in our modern world. We will be moving in and out of virtual reality scenes in an inspiring way, to showcase the skills and capabilities of the team. That's the future, and it's exciting!

These 'electro pages' are becoming the primary communication form, even in some way to ourselves.

What are some of your interests in your personal life outside of work?

Since an early age, I've loved water sports and am a keen sailor and kitesurfer. My favourite playing field is the water between Brownsea Island and the shores of Poole Bay.

I also love sharing my passion for photography as meditation. The camera Is the perfect tool for focusing attention and enhancing a feeling of connection.

You can capture things that you can't usually see by going to high shutter speeds and see hidden patterns in movement by playing with longer exposure values. You're playing with light and time. In all its manifestations, light is at the very heart and structure of life and the universe we live in.

When I'm not on the water or behind a camera lens, I can be found in the garden. My main passion is growing our own food. You can not beat cooking with ingredients that you've just picked.

Do you have a dream project you'd like to work on?

My dream project would be to create the most amazing healing environment, where light, sound and architecture are all brought into sync harmonically.

What are you learning at the moment?

I'm learning a lot about all aspects of Virtual Production and workflow systems that join up CGI virtual tech with studio camera work. We're in the process of putting together a virtual studio in number 8, which is really exciting.

I'm so impressed with the skill sets and experience of the team here at EPM and I'm learning a lot from everyone. To see how switched on everybody is, it's just fantastic.

If you could go back ten years, what would be a piece of advice you could give yourself?

Don't get distracted and keep integrity in everything that you do. Above all, have fun and let creativity be your driving force.

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