After getting full creative control over a 14-page fashion editorial for Relapse Magazine, Brooklyn-based photographer Cole Barash became fixated on an idea. He shot the fashion spread using a double exposure technique—where each frame of film is shot twice with images overlaying one another—and was so surprised by the results, he knew it had to be a bigger project. His idea was to shoot six models from around the world in the studio, then travel to each of their cities, shooting a second exposure on the same film. As a followup to his gritty documentary-style photo project on Hawaii’s North Shore, “Six Girls Six Cities” sees Barash producing a decidedly glamorous body of work replete with stunning models and cosmopolitan street shots without losing the raw edge that initially drew us to his work.
“I generally do not love double exposures,” Barash tells CH, “however I felt this process of a cohesive vision all the way through combined with the organic process of the unknown suited it well.” This marks the first time in Barash’s career where he has produced a large body of work using the double exposure method—apart from the editorial that was the catalyst for the project. After shooting 60 rolls of Kodak film in the studio, Barash booked an around-the-world ticket. Embarking from his home in New York he spent two-to-three days in Paris, London, Moscow, Tokyo and finally São Paulo—shooting on the streets of each city on the same rolls of film where each model is from.
“After I had finished the last city I boarded the plane in São Paulo and realized I had no idea if any of it would work,” Barash says. “I had no idea if any of the film had fogged or if any of the x-rays fucked anything up. I had no way to check it or back it up—it was all based off of gut reaction when photographing and having faith the process would work.”
The result is a cohesive body of work that beautifully captures the aesthetics of a city contrasted with the individuality of the models Barash chose to represent them. “The photographs of the girls represent different emotions,” he explains. “The textures, people, lines, shapes, grit of each city is really what represent the emotion—combined I wanted it to be an honest expression of each.” The highly orchestrated look and feel of studio photography melds with the spontaneity of shooting on city streets, forcing the viewer to consider the beauty of each method simultaneously.
Images courtesy of Cole Barash