Barbara Banks, Celebrated and Respected Photographer, Joins the Club

Barbara Banks, Celebrated and Respected Photographer, Joins the Club

From shooting the Worker Project at the Sarasota Art Museum to hanging from the ceiling by her belt to shoot for the Sarasota Ballet, to taking photos of political figures such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama, Suncoast native Barbara Banks tells stories through pictures. Her skill and eye for light and pose make her photos remarkable, memorable, and iconic. Take a listen to her story of growing up in Sarasota, her path to photography as her art form and business, and her favorite photo shoot of all time.
Come along and join the club!

• Barbara Banks Website & Facebook & Instagram

• State of the Arts Gallery Website  & Facebook & Instagram

• Sarasota Art Museum Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Sarasota Ballet Website and Facebook and Instagram

• Urbanite Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Lila Restaurant Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Michael's on East Restaurant Website and Facebook and Instagram

The Ringling Museum of Art Website & Facebook & Instagram

• SCF Art Gallery Facebook & Instagram

• Katherine Bzura Facebook & Instagram

State College of Florida Music Program Website & Instagram

• State College of Florida Theatre Program Website & Facebook & Instagram

• State College of Florida Foundation Website and Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn

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Robyn: Look out some coast culture club members. We have a local celebrity on with us today. In fact, our guest is so famous across the Suncoast that I called in Katherine buzzer. They helped me interview her. Catherine, are you excited about this one? 

Katherine: I'm having trouble sitting still and keeping it together.

Robyn: I'll help you out there. Although today's guests main art, medium is photography. I'm excited to share that many may not know that she's an accomplished musician playing cello among many other instruments. Her dad was the orchestra director at Sarasota high school back in the day. So on my book, she's got good bones.

Katherine: Yeah. But you'll recognize your photographs, a style magazine, the Sarah set of LA. And she even photographed bill Clinton when he was in Sarasota, Robyn, she is currently represented by state of the arts gallery in Sarasota. And we are so pleased to visit with her today. Barbara Banks, welcome to the club.

Barbara: Thank you. Happy to be here. 

Robyn: Cause we like to call you in our household. You are a Sarasota native and your upbringing here and your surroundings really shaped the person you have turned out to be. Tell us about your early life on the Suncoast. 

Barbara: Well, it was really beautiful because I was born back in the 19 hundreds. So

Robyn: you look great for your age. 

Barbara: Yeah. The beaches were pristine and  they're pretty beautiful still, but they were remarkably pristine, beautiful trees. And. The water was amazing. , it was great. It was a great place to grow up. We walked to school, , rode our bikes, walked, we felt safe, 

Robyn: surrounded, , in high school, your dad was there all the time. What was that like? 

Barbara: Well, My dad was a really cool and kind person. And before he even took the job, , we had a family conference and we discussed it and I was always very proud to be associated with bill banks. So it really wasn't an issue. Of course, I got away with a few things, . But I really had  the usual challenges people have in high school with social matters, but I hung out in the music room and the art room and I was really happy and had good friends and still have some of those friends today from Sarasota.

Robyn: I'm sure you've seen this town really  what are some good things and so bad things you've seen change about it. 

Barbara: Well, I think  the mix is , the development it's good and bad. I hate to see so much development, especially encroaching East, and yet with population on the planet it's bound to happen. I think the town has become more vital than it was say back in the eighties,  we have a lot to offer here as you well know, music, art galleries, performing arts. There's a lot, including the environment. I enjoy the,  coastal environment. And I also really enjoy the center of the state, the trees, the farm land. Love it. It's beautiful. 

Katherine: Well, your original path to your career did not involve photography. Am I correct? 

Barbara: Yes and no, not directly, but I always incorporated it in whatever I was doing. 

Katherine: So was there a moment that you went from thinking this is something I do in my spare time that I enjoy too. This is going to be the way that I provide for myself materially and artistically.

Barbara: Yes, , there were several moments because I had to really think about it. So, Oh, I had several career paths, enjoyed all of them. And there was a point where I was doing photography on the side. I had a really nice job with a medical company Lifelink in Tampa and, , I was doing freelance photography and I  became busier and more busy and really, really enjoyed it. And it got to a point where I had to make a decision, whether I was going to cut back on one or the other, and I took the leap and opened my business. And , I feel very fortunate. It worked out very well. 

Robyn: Wherever. When you graduated from high school, you went straight into college. 

Barbara: I did. 

Robyn: And  where'd you attend college? 

Barbara: Oh Florida state university. 

Robyn: So you moved to Tallahassee and what were you majoring in there? 

Barbara: let's see how many majors can one possibly have I had many, , , I was in a candy shop. I loved taking various classes. , honestly, I wanted to do photography and music. I was not mature enough to produce on , demand as I have to do in my work now. , it's one of the things I love and also it's a bit frightening. , but back then, , I just wasn't able to. Pull it together. So I became a teacher. No, no bread, terrible, because I really enjoyed teaching. 

Robyn: You ended up with an education degree. 

Barbara: I did. 

Robyn: Okay. 

Barbara: Out of many different majors, I studied photography and art and music and sociology. You know, there were so many things to be interested in modern literature. 

Katherine: That's what makes you a great teacher that curiosity?

Barbara: And I like to have fun, but back then, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. , I started college when I was 17. , I had no clue and I encourage people to find a path. Sometimes it's immediate. Sometimes it's not so obvious that,  where you're really happy with what you're doing and with your life.

Robyn: And so when you got your degree and you started looking for teaching jobs and where,  did you first work? 

Barbara: My intention was to collect my things and go for interviews. And what back then? Fun cities like key West and St. Augustine.  My parents were still here. I ended up getting a substitute teaching job at Tuttle elementary and they ended up hiring me. It was not my intention to stay here. So I taught second grade there for a year. Then I moved to Ashton and taught there for the five years. 

Robyn:  So you left teaching. And what was your next step? 

Barbara: Well, I floated for a while , then I ended up working in the public relations marketing firm and kind of took that up as my career for several years. then I worked at Sarasota Memorial. And marketing loved it. And that's where I met the people from life link. And I ended up working at Lifelink for a decade. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I've I've really enjoyed all of my work. 

Robyn: , what is Lifelink 

Barbara:  Well, there are a couple of LifeLinks. This life link. L I F E capital L I N K one word is an organ procurement organization. They, , coordinate, manage, educate the public and medical professionals with regarding organ and tissue donation. And they also employ physicians and staff that do transplantation. It's a very interesting medical field.

Robyn: And that's where you were working when you jumped off then to become a photographer. 

Barbara: That is correct. 

Robyn: You are still involved with that organization to this day though, ? 

Barbara: Yes.  I do portraits of donor families and recipients for their annual report. Or I have been up until 2020. 

Katherine: So  this is a question we wanted to ask you for sure. You have many wonderful organizations that you shoot for and are passionate about supporting in the nonprofit sector, lifelike being one. Can you tell us more about,  some of the other organizations that you serve with your particular skillset. 

Barbara: Well, thank you. Interesting question. Because when I do have interns or people that want to learn a little bit, I encourage everyone to do volunteer work. And , because I'm not able to write, , giant checks like many, . My charitable work is in kind and I really enjoy it. There are several organizations, , spark planned Parenthood children. First child protection girls, Inc. So , when the need is there and I can help with in kind photography, I'm happy to do it.

Robyn: That's awesome. 

Katherine: It is. And often nonprofits just don't have the budgets to create those beautiful images that really help connect the public to the message of their missions. And I think some members of the community, maybe they're just not even thinking about where those images come from. But I've been involved in a photography business and , the in kind donations are a really great way to stay connected to such important parts of our community. And I just say to our listeners, , there's an image maker. That's probably donating some of those services. When you see those beautiful pictures for your non-profits glossy, , materials that go out there to the public. 

Barbara: Yes. And I have a philosophy if you don't ask the answer is no. So, , I like to donate to auctions and things of that nature. , there's a limit and yet I try, , if, and when I do retire, I will continue to work and probably focus on non-pro. It's really rewarding. 

Robyn: And I have to say the word retirement, , and I talk with artists about this in every medium, the thing about what we do. Is you really never retire. , even if I retire from teaching I musician and that stayed with me forever,  even have to bust out that  trumpet and play in some community band. When I'm  90 years old, 

Katherine: you can not retire from being Robin bell. 

Robyn: But Barbara, you know what I'm saying? That you will always have a camera in your hand. You never lose that gift in, you know, maybe retirement just means we're drawing on another income, but it doesn't mean  I hang up my Baton or you hang up your camera 

Barbara: precisely.

Katherine: Right. We're always curious. , we always have another chapter in the works, even when we're writing the one we're in at the present moment. 

Robyn: That's right. Catherine. You've had a lot of chapters too. 

Katherine: Almost definitely. I actually worked for a public relations company straight out of college that represented Lifelink down in New York city. Yes. The Steven's company on seventh Avenue in New York city in the early nineties. 

Barbara: Really? 

Katherine: Yes. 

Robyn: Isn't that like the connection? That's what this podcast is all about. So Barbara, you have had some really I'm sure memorable photo shoots. Can you off the top of your head, tell us like maybe your top one or two most memorable photo shoots and what was so special about them? . 

Barbara:  , I have to say it could have been my most recent photo shoot because I really enjoy different elements of all. However, the worker project was incredible.

Robyn: There you go. I'm so glad we're going to talk about that. 

Barbara: Amazing to be asked to do it. It was, , nine months. I will never forget. I really enjoyed being on the campus,  several times a week over the nine month period. 

Robyn: Let me stop you there because we probably have some listeners that don't know what the worker project is, and we referenced it once before, but can you just tell us , what that is and how it came to be that you were a part of it?

Barbara: The worker project is a permanent, , exhibition at the Sarasota art museum, which is the old Sarasota high school. It's right on 41, that beautiful restored building. And I was asked by Ann Marie, the curator and director to make. Pictures of as many of the workers on the site as possible. And I would go early in the morning, late in the day, all different times of day, different days of the week. And I was photographing trades people, any one from Mason's plaster workers, , painting dry wall tile. , the fire system, you just name it, any of the workers who were working to both re Furbish, repurpose that building and then add data, you know, the wires to it. It was fascinating. And so touching to be involved. With the people who are making that project come to fruition, 

Robyn: kind of people that don't often get their photos made. They're not the ones that , we're going to put up in a wall to look at.  Anne Marie Russell, she has her own podcast episode that Katherine dig with her. It was fantastic. And she gathered, explained to us that it was kind of one of the workers that  didn't they come up with the idea or something like that. If I remember. 

Barbara: One of the workers inspired it. Yes. 

Katherine: So it's,  her openness and the conversations that she has with people in all aspects of her projects that really inspire some of the things that come out of the retrofit, the re-imagining, , And she wants to move stories forward that hadn't been included in our narratives before. I think in a lot of ways. And her eyes really lit up when we mentioned that. And I think it was in context of asking, what was your favorite part about, nine months that you were the hard hat and, , she kinda got a whistle looking around, like I really miss my hard hat. Like those were the days like friend. And you were definitely a part of it. I think it exceeded her expectations and so many ways, and it delights her that it's permanent. So that part of the project will never really be forgotten. 

Barbara: And I'm hoping when,  we can go out again and be amongst our friends, that we can invite those workers. To see their faces on that wall. It brings tears to my throat. It's really, really meaningful. And , I remember so vividly when I would ask people, if I could take their picture, many of them didn't know they were working for a museum or a Woodby museum,

Katherine:  right. 

A look on their faces. Many, many of them have, , Not astonishment honor gratitude that they would be recognized.

Robyn: So cool. 

Barbara: And Maria and I shed many, a tear of loving kindness and, , just being touched deeply by the humanity. And I learned a lot about construction. It was interesting, but I really, really appreciated watching.  , I didn't have long conversations because , there was no intention to interrupt the workflow. So I would ask a simple question and then stand there and watch and take pictures. And it was just wonderful. 

Katherine: There's an idea about transformation there. That's really important to Amarie Russell and the two of you transformed, perhaps some. People's idea about themselves or what they were really doing there while they were on site. And it reminds me about ancient structures and thinking about teaching when, , like a structure like anger bot in Cambodia's is made, we Marvel at the engineering of it, but everyone kind of had to be on the same page as far as mission and purpose go, perhaps in ways where we're kind of siloed in our. Modern lives. , our engineering isn't maybe any more astute than theirs, and we're just much more disconnected in a lot of ways. So , you guys really connected them just through making images and having those moments of really seeing people. 

Barbara: That's the key, really seeing one another and being invited. To actually make an image of someone. , most of the people agree, just a handful said no, , for whatever reason.  And a lot of that communication was non-verbal. 

Katherine: Right. 

Barbara: So it was really, really special. 

Robyn: And on the other spectrum, , here you take , these photos of all these workers that are, , middle-class hardworking people . And then, so we're years ago here comes president bill Clinton, the town on the other end, and you are asked to take his. Photograph , tell us about how that came about and what was that experience like  

Barbara: It was great. , I was doing photography for the, , town hall series and I photographed some very interesting people.  , well, that night they wanted the white house photographer to take his picture because they had a lot of specifications about the backdrop and this and that. I said, I've got it under control and my problem. , , so that part of it was taking pictures of. President Clinton with students from Ringling, with donors and so on and so forth. The most significant part of it for me was when he was leaving. And if you've been to van wisely, you know, that stage entrance and exit is quite a narrow sidewalk with walls on both sides. And I, Was taking pictures. I was backing up and they were, they meaning bill Clinton and his entourage of secret service and local police were coming. I mean, I was shooting and shooting and shooting and backing up and I knew I had to step aside because they were not going to stop. There was a curve that I didn't see. I hit the curb, went over. Because I was, moving fairly quickly, so there was momentum and I've hit the ground. The camera flew up and hit me in the face and it,  hurt and it was embarrassing. And so my glasses were knocked off and I felt these hands on my. Arms and I heard, are you okay? And I was like, Oh, and it was him. And he pulled me up.  Law enforcement were like, hurry up, hurry up. He was like, no, no, no, no. And he stood there and told me a story about when he bumped into a telephone pole when he was walking and talking. And he, knew that I was embarrassed and , it was really, really kind and I won't ever forget. It was great. 

Katherine: I was going to say, that's,  the nicest thing. I've fallen down a few times of my life. I'm six foot four, and maybe my feet aren't quite big enough for my body, but, , it's always like, there's some time in between you kind of know you're going down and you have that moment to think about it, but then there's when you have to get back up again and see, you can just look in that's the, that's the hardest part. And for him to offer you that, cause I'm tumbled story was redeeming. 

Barbara: Yeah. And there might've been seven. I don't know. , it was a small group of men. . And I was like sitting, I didn't have on slacks. Thank goodness 

Katherine: .  Elegance, elegance. 

Robyn: I see these photos you took of president Clinton often and around and , that must've been a really neat experience. And also to think about that separate  end of the spectrum, you know, from the president United States to these hardworking people, restoring the high school that you attended, right. Where you walk the halls and just , what an awesome dichotomy there. I'm love that. 

Barbara:  it is awesome 

Katherine: and everything in between, right? The Sarasota scene and 

Robyn: the Sarasota ballet, all those images you take with  the ballet dancers in the numbers of the year and stuff, their anniversary. Oh, this just awesome. Whose idea was that? 

Barbara:  I think the first. Was  the 20th anniversary. I believe it might've been their idea.  

Katherine: And sometimes  the client will come up with a really great idea, but it's up to the artists to make it look good. Because otherwise it could just look up a bunch of jangled bodies on the, and it may or may not look like a 20 well,

Barbara:  it's definitely a collaboration that was a big time collaboration, which I really like collaborating love it. I love different ideas and it's great to brainstorm. So that obviously involved the dancers I was up, In the main dance studio being held by my belt because this was before drones. And , even last year for the 30th, , I don't shoot with a drone. So the people and getting them in the right position was a collaborative effort between the dancers on the ground. And then, , Maggie and Ian and different staff members who assisted with that arranging. It was fun. 

Robyn: Yeah, really cool. Well, Barbara, we have, , aspiring photography students here at SCF, and I know they would love to get some invite from someone as accomplished as yourself. Now I know in my business of music, it's just not enough to have the talent. There's a whole business side to this arts career thing. What advice would you have for our photography students here about that? End of being an artist about the business side. 

Barbara: The business side. Did you have to ask that question? That's a tough one, but thank goodness. I was really naive because I had always worked for corporations or larger entities. So I just kind of figured it out. , I think the main thing that people. Coming out of school, want to realize is that you want to have a cross  the board skills because to walk right out and get into the job that you may seek,  whether it's to be another Clyde butcher or what have you, you have to figure out what your expenses are going to be. It's tough, you know, costs. Versus income ratios and this kind of thing. So it was, a huge learning curve. What do I charge? What do I offer people? I'm sure there are business models out there now. , I just figured it out. , I think what I might suggest depending on the market that you choose to go into you discover who your competition is. You look at, if you have rent. , , there's so many factors to consider and to try to put together and, , maybe conferring with other business people. I'm happy to talk to people about it.  , I know I'm friendly with my competitors. There's so many more photographers in town now, but I've always checked in with key friendly competitors. I call them, , we've referred to one another, we support one another and I check in with them about what they're currently charging and what they get for the fee and this and that, or what they offer. So there's no Pat answer. Probably like setting up a department at the college, , , it's a process and there are models and then you have to forge your own way for your own product and signature.

Robyn: I would imagine when you first started this career, , that it was a real specialty. You had to have a high end equipment and expensive. , camera's and I don't know how much you were using computers when you first started, but now everybody with their iPhone is a camera man. Right.  It's opened up this whole, I'm going to be a  photographer in my garage thing. . You've seen the competition change in that way. 

Barbara: Yes. And I don't want to be arrogant about it. Like music or any art form. It's not really the equipment that you have. You know, hand me a million dollar violin. I can't play 

Robyn: that's right. 

Barbara: I do know how to use my equipment. I don't think you necessarily have to, you know, when I first started, I wanted to have all the current trendy stuff. As long as you know how to use your tools, that's really critical use the tools. And then I photograph people. I really like interacting with people.

Katherine: And that  shows in your work most definitely. And I think that's a really good point to mention with students. , if you don't like people, man, be good at shooting buildings, I guess, because they don't talk back. 

Barbara: Yeah.  , , I have good software. I have good. Lenses and cameras, but I have to emphasize . You have to know how to use the lighting, where to place it. I don't have a formula that I use. I interview my clients. I had two this morning. I asked them what they're doing, , what their work is, how they're going to use the images. And I basically decide or alter when I arrive on the site or when they arrive, it's all customized. It depends on the person or the people. And I adjust accordingly. Usually it works out well

Katherine:  from what we see as the result, I would say, 

Robyn: absolutely.

Katherine:  It works out well. 

Robyn: And wherever you didn't mention that you had two clients come in this morning, but when we come back, we want to talk to you about your life and career during the pandemic, anxious to hear how your schedule of events was altered due to COVID-19 and how you see yourself in our cultural arts scene, making a comeback back after this break.

Katherine: Welcome back to the Suncoast culture club podcast, where today we are visiting with photographer, Barbara Banks. Now Barbara, the pandemic shutdown has effected every nook and cranny of the cultural arts scene in America and our Sarason and artists have not been spared. Tell us about how the pandemic has altered your life and career.

Barbara: Wow. Okay. Back in March of 20, 20, it's hard to believe it was almost a year ago. It's like what happened to the year? Um, it impacted me significantly. , I have worked through the fear and the, this and that, you know, my thoughts. , business-wise, , as you recall, everything's shut down. So people were afraid. They weren't going out, even though the numbers are still high, people are venturing out. So I'm getting more and more inquiries. , my summer was good.  , it was a little scary. I said to myself, I'm glad I'm not starting my business.  , I did downsize my studio. I moved to a smaller. Space. So I could cut my overhead.  , I'm fortunate that I have a lot of clients who come back year after year, so things are great. , but I've, adjusted my expectations. Am I thinking about all of that and worked through the uncertainty because really. A lot of days are uncertain if you think about it. So  yeah. There was some fear and trepidation. 

Robyn: curious about logistically because , when you've taken photos of me, you will, you get close and you say, turn your shoulders this way and do your head this way. Are you a bit more skeptical about getting close to clients? 

Barbara: Well, we. Practice what probably most businesses are practicing. I send out information. I talked to people on the phone, even my answering machine talks about safe practices. So I asked people to come in wearing a mask. Obviously they're not going to wear it during their photo session. And I wear a mask the entire time and I do approach, but usually when I'm shooting, I'm at least six feet away. If not more. So that's not really a problem.  , but if I do need to adjust, I,  sometimes wear two masks, but , I felt comfortable. I feel okay. I'm very cautious. I try not to get too close and I have asked people who want to look over my shoulder and look at their photos too. Put their mask back on and stay back a bit. Most people understand. So we've been moving forward. Cautiously.  , I did have a request during the summer to do a group of 17 in my studio and I declined. I just, I didn't, it wasn't safe and it's not now. 

Robyn: Right. That's smart. 

Barbara: Unless all of those people have been together. It's just not safe and that would be inside. So I do studio work and I, continue to do studio work and I do location work and , we talk about it. 

Robyn: Well, Barbara, , this kind of goes hand in hand with being safe, but you've had some health scares during your career ones that you probably should not have bounced back from the dead. How did your cancer diagnosis changed the way you look through your lens of life and photography , and has that changed also your outlook on the pandemic and how you handle that personally?

Barbara:  Robin. I appreciate that question. I have to remember, , . That I and other people have overcome much adversity. And I have to go back and say, okay, remember, you know, you've done this, you've survived. This you've problem-solved this, , that cancer diagnosis, which was stage three, colon cancer was given to me. I remember it. Most people who have had such an experience. I remember the day, the time. What I was doing, I was actually still working at lifeline and I was transitioning. So it,  cemented my wish to fulfill my desire to try photography.  , without a doubt, it encouraged me to move ahead and strike out on my own.


Robyn: That's awesome. 

Barbara: , So during the pandemic and when,  you're feeling challenged or emotionally disconnected or  the discomfort, those uncomfortable feelings, I sometimes go back and look at what challenges I and other people have overcome. And it gives me insight. So. Put one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward.

Katherine: That's a good message from everyone in our lives. I'm thinking from my students to my kids, to my peers is , we're experiencing a little bit of pandemic fatigue, where we were very careful and we were scared and now we're scared and the numbers are what they are, but we want to venture out. And it's easy. We make so many decisions like you're talking about, you have to make a decision about asking a person to stand back and negotiating social interactions and, , having your expectations for safety met and not met. And, , we do need to remember that , we've all been through a lot historically individually, and it helps me be kind to other people. When I remember that. 

Robyn: Cause we work at the state coach rotor. We've been having to come to work since last August and we'd been around students and  , besides wearing a mask to rehearsals and out in the hallway life isn't much different day to day for us than it was. , and so then I need someone that hasn't been out of their house since March. And I forget about how. , the mental state of I've gotta be super careful and can't be around anybody because we've been forced to shelve that due to our work and the jobs that we have to do. , and so I have to be reminded of that. You know what I mean? Somebody, you can't just shake their hand or hug them anymore, like, Oh yeah, yeah. I forget. You know, but I missed that. I missed seeing a friend and giving them a hug. 

Barbara: So it's still impacting, you know, , I go to work and I see people and I'm thinking back to a shoot I had in the summer in July and one person brought in spray and sprayed the environment. I'm fine. I get it. And that person was very nervous. And I did a couple of group pictures where I shot each person. I photographed, I, we use the term shoot to take pictures, photographed people separately and did a composite because some were comfortable being together and some weren't. And I remember,  , working with those people. And as you said, Catherine, the kindness I'm trying. More than ever to just understand that. So many people, our challenge right now with all of this, it's not about my business or your there's so many people globally who are going through this and it's well, not so many everyone. 

Katherine: Yeah. And it's hard when you,  have an adult in front of you and they're behaving in a way that you can't quite wrap your head around. I look at them and I think, Oh my gosh, you're scared. And I remember that they're scared. And then I picture them. I probably shouldn't say this out loud, but I'm going to cause vulnerable a picture them as a five-year-old scared child. And then I react to them the same way that I would if I saw a five-year-old scare a child on the street. And it seems to work wonders and dissipating people's  uncertainty, because I think it's reassurance maybe in the moment, I'm not going to reassure you that everything's going to be okay globally. But right now you and me we're okay. 

Barbara: I think recognizing that vulnerability in everyone is so helpful. You know, a friend told me a story. This has nothing to do with photography about. Last night, she was walking through a parking lot. She noticed this woman coming out of a store and she just picked up on this profound fear or sadness. She didn't do anything, but she did share it with me. So we were kind of sending that person energy. And she said that she saw the person sitting in their car with their  head and their hands. And it's, if you just look around and look at someone's eyes and just. Try to be a little more compassionate. Not that you're not, or we're not just a little bit more. And I feel that's one of the gifts I am able to experience in my work, working with the workers, working with people in the studio, many people, regardless of their jobs, except. Bill Clinton. And some of the people that I photograph, Michelle Obama, Hillary, who are so accustomed they're. So self-confident, most people do feel very vulnerable sitting in front of a camera or being asked to play a solo spontaneously in front of everyone else in the band or orchestra. And being empathetic about how that feels. It's scary. 

Robyn: Totally. 

Katherine: Their fear of being seen is not too unlike the fear of being infected with a virus that you can't see. That's just out there 

Robyn: girls.  We've gone so deep. We got to bring some levity back. 

Katherine: Oh, 

Barbara: Let's add some levity, 

Katherine: I guess that's going to be my job. So. You and I are going to hang out all day long.

Barbara: Let's do it. 

Katherine: We're going to bring Robin along. So we get to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I think about that for sure. Together, you get to choose, which now we know we're not operating in the real world because Robin might weigh in on where we're going to eat or drink or something. So we get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You get to play in a church choice. Where are we going? 

Barbara:  Well, breakfast is my fav brunch  I love Leila. . I could probably have breakfast, lunch and dinner at Leila. Now. I miss Arthur. And Arthur's wonderful baking.    , ,  for Thanksgiving, my mom and I got takeout. Fabulous. Thanksgiving dinner from Michael's and we went to my park. It was perfect. And I took the Sterling and the, , linens and crystal, and we sat at a funky picnic table and. Enjoyed it. 

Katherine: And that still supports my goals.  We have supporting the chefs and the, people that run that business. And we're just picking it up and taking it to the park.

Robyn: Would we find hanging out at the farmer's market on a Saturday morning? 

Barbara: Yes, but I don't hang out anymore. I  used to go to, , Lynn's juice truck, and now she has a storefront. 

Robyn: Good for her. 

Barbara: But  that question about the restaurants. There's so many great dining establishments. It's hard to narrow it down. 

Robyn: I know. And if you think about, let's say you had to move from Sarasota tomorrow, you're moving and you have one last meal, one last good restaurant to go to wouldn't that be tough? 

You know, I don't know. 

No, I think like we're down where you live. I always think about pastry arts and, , cinema.

Barbara: There are a lot of really nice restaurants in Sarasota and Brayden. 

Robyn: We always loved Beulah's and , I understand veal went out of business is something new now, and now we just heartbroken to see the views went bad. 

Yes. Unfortunately, many of our dining establishments have suffered terribly during this time.

That means we're all cooking more at home. 

Katherine: Yeah. It's going to be a whole new landscape out there though for,  the future. 

Robyn: Well, let's say we're on this same little triple date, the three of us, and we figured out where we are or are not going to eat. Tell me, Barbara, where would you take us for our evening activities? If there's one,  thing we had to buy some tickets to go see what's on the top of your list.

Katherine: I just want that on an endless loop.

Barbara: Well, we might start at the Ringling museum for Jacobs coach love it's outdoors, even in the rain and . I love strolling in nature. So  maybe attending an urbanite reading or another. Performance group that might be for performing outdoors.

  I also love films. It's really challenging not to be able to go to a theater and the performing arts. We can't do it all in one night. 

Robyn: would need a matinee, something and then an evening something 

Barbara: again, Sarasota is blessed with so many great arts performing and fine arts. . I'd probably end up going somewhere for some live music, got to have live music.

Robyn: That's really the point of these last two questions is to highlight, to showcase. We can't decide. There's too many places to go. They're great things. , and we love them all. They all contribute so wonderfully to the culture on the Suncoast and we are the Suncoast culture club. So we dig it all. But we're interested in our guests in, do they have a certain organization or performing or visual arts thing that they like, you know? Yeah. You got to go see this. I know you and I talked this morning. You're going to go see the 

Barbara: urbanite.

Robyn: Yeah, urbanites that played thirst at the Sylvia gardens this weekend. So, , we lived the urban ITU. That's,  fantastic. 

Barbara: . Oh, I forgot. I love the bistro at the Cirrus at art museum. In addition to the art. The bistro is fabulous. 

Katherine: A great new addition. Great.

Robyn:  I haven't been there yet, but, 

Katherine: and then also Barbara, who you were saying, you like to walk , you like to take a stroll. So one of the great things in Sarasota is that we can usually walk in between things and between restaurants and live music venues. And the thing that's added that Amarie wrestle reminded me. Eloquently and persistently that you can walk while you're on the campus there, that the meander. So I have it on my agenda. It's very safe. I went and saw the show that's there now the similar show, but , I planned it in the beach or it was just closing. So I thought, well, this wasn't very good. So the next time I go, I'm going to take the stroll I managed to get into, to the shop, but do the stroll, having a coffee or playing it for lunch and then see the. Inside of the exhibition. And so inside, outside little libation, like Sarasota is really great at that kind of thing and even the little shopping. So she's got the one stop, literally shop there and in very safe, very, very safe. 

Barbara:  I love being there. In fact, in the early days. What on a Sunday afternoon, I can go to the same show. Yeah, you have to go more than once to view the same show. , but one Sunday afternoon, I wandered into the conservatory that might be closed at the moment. It's a little library and Anne Marie's daughter Ursula was there on a Sunday sitting in the corner  in the womb chair writing in her journal. And she said, this is my spot. And I feel it's my thought, you know, I love it. And by the way, . We're walking to Selby tonight. We'll convene downtown, and then stroll to Selby and then stroll back.

Robyn: a  perfect. January night in Sarasota to be able to do that. That's just so awesome. 

Katherine: Right? We're there we are in agreement with all of these choices.  We'd be along for the ride, Barbara, for sure. No. Now we're gonna segue and we have come to the rapid fire segment of the podcast. We're going to ask you some questions. And you give us the first answer that pops into your mind. This is it. Might've started to seem like the therapy session that a few minutes ago, but it's really not. 

Robyn: , I have actually have two questions about it and one here and I edited there in the course of our time together because there's always this discussion. So Barbara, you're going to have to put this to bed for me.  Picture or photograph?

Barbara: Picture. , I'm going to make a picture. 

Robyn: What's the difference?

Barbara: Semantics.

Katherine: Right? 

Barbara: Whatever works. 

Robyn: Okay. So I don't have to feel bad about saying picture 

Katherine: as long as you're not saying picture 

Robyn: picture. Oh yeah. That's something you pour water, 

Barbara: make pictures. We tell stories, whatever. 

Robyn: Okay. All right. , you got the right answer. All right, Barbara, to photograph an animal or to photograph a baby 

Barbara: animal, same thing. Photograph an animal and a baby

Katherine: animal baby. 

Barbara: One of my memorable photos was I was photographing my friend's baby. And they had , an elderly Dachsund doxins are very protective. The baby was born long after the docks and was in the household. And I said, do we want to get a picture of the two together? Is the dog going to eat the baby? If we put them together and the baby was a newborn. So the baby was all snuggled and fetal and,  the dog just got up on the platform and spooned that baby. Click one click and , I made a picture. That's a tough one. Generally. , I'd say an animal. Maybe these are tough.

Katherine: Can be animals. 

Barbara: Human animals are challenged. 

Katherine: There are no matter what their age, so same sort of question photographer for rolling stone magazine or national geographics. 

Barbara: Nat geo. 

Robyn: Nice. Nice. Okay. I know you're a big Joni Mitchell fan. You can only take one Joni Mitchell song to a private Island. So what's your favorite Joni Mitchell song?

Barbara: Oh, my gosh, well, you know, Meryl Streep was asked a question recently and , I agree , with Meryl when she said, Hey, Gyra,

Katherine: traditionals, snapshot, or digital photography. .

Barbara:  I take it. You mean film? 

Katherine: Yes. What's not going to lead you there. So film is your answer.

Barbara: , okay. I'm going to segue a moment. I that's how I approach the worker project. .  I knew they were going to be converted to black and white. I was shooting with ambient light. Some of them, I did set up a light, but when you're doing spontaneous photography, it's natural light. So I actually. Shot that from a film approach, even though I was using a digital camera and that's how I approach my work anyway, and then they are not photo-shopped, they are adjusted for contrast. So I prefer that traditional or pre digital approach. That's what I love. 

Katherine: I think you're speaking a little bit about authenticity there. , which I like from,  the silver process of film. 

Robyn: All right. Barbara landscape view or portrait view. 

Barbara: Well, I'm going to adjust that because I shoot my portraits in landscape.

 Robyn: You're so clever. 

Katherine: So , what's your dream assignment?

Barbara: Joni Mitchell.  . No, that's not my dream. , I would like to play cello with Joni, but photographically. Hmm. . I don't know if I can answer that.  , I better answer it. Cause I can manifest it. Right , you know, one of my,  bucket list items is to go to Africa. And yes, I'd like to see the wildlife, but being in a culture that's unknown. So there's so many cultures that I haven't experienced. So I might say, and there's, you know, Africa is a very large continent. . So immersing in a culture and. Say Tanzania where I could,  be with the chimps and the people that 

Robyn: you're going to need someone to carry your bags for you. 

Barbara: Come on. Let's go. 

Robyn: All right. , Barbara, who would you choose to photograph you? Love that answer. 

Katherine: I'm going to go home this afternoon, ask one of my kids to take a picture of it, actually. You're right. They are the best because you feel really seen, 

Robyn: but would you say, take a photograph of me 

Katherine: a picture, 

Barbara: a picture of 

Katherine: pitcher, concept or process? 

Barbara: Process.

Robyn: Yeah. And you know, it's funny in my line of work, because before we start rehearsing to put on a concert, , I have to have the idea of what this concert is going to be and what music we're going to play and how it's going to come together. And I love coming up with the concept. But then I can't wait for, even if it's six months later for the rehearsal rehearsal, five minutes, number one, and just dig into this music for that culminating event. I don't know that I could choose between concept or process because I love both so much. The process is the dirty work, right 

Barbara: to me. It's the meat. 

Robyn: Yeah. Yeah.

Barbara: I love it. 

Katherine: That's why we ask the hard questions. 

Robyn: It's really nice. So when you have a good balance of what it has good concept, and then someone here that can process that for them. But when I think all three of us here have to do it all ourselves. It's a lot of work.

Barbara: Yeah. It can be intimidating, but it's that intimidation  also  gives me a great deal of satisfaction and passion, 

Robyn: right? And you are ultimately the only one responsible for,  the success of that project.  , if you come up with a concept and you put through the process, now you guys,  you work with someone or something that you photograph it and then you have to. Process it, you put together art gallery ideas and you go and get, but  this is tough because for the process part, I'm dependent on 65 other people doing what they're supposed to do to make that work. 

Katherine: , this is one of those times might be coachable because you're very good at getting those 65 people through your process to get to that end result. But yeah, you can't control them. 

Robyn: I can't control. 

Katherine: No, I know you're looking at me right now. Like you wish you had a genie in a bottle and you could change that. 

Robyn: All right. This one's pretty good. Barbara. We asked a lot of our guests, this question, where should the Sarasota orchestra next call home. 

Barbara: Oh man. Oh, geez. 

Robyn: You to 

Barbara:  Well, I love the Bayfront project. That's going to take a while though. 

Robyn: And there's no space for them there. . Did you like the pain park idea? 

 Barbara: You know what I haven't given that a lot of thought, , pain park is a good central location. I think centrally located and assessable to everyone. I mean, everyone, but that's another topic.

Katherine: Agreed. And we've got one last one to sort of lighten it up. We're still going to talk about accessibility here, but, , roundabouts or stoplights. Oh man.

Barbara: Roundabouts. If people could learn how to drive on it,

Robyn: that's the key. 

Barbara: Yeah, we had,   a discussion downtown about having lessons on learning, being in destructive. I'm like. What you just slow down and look like you should be doing when you're driving. Anyway, the one up on 14th, is it 14? That was a little scary. And the one on one, 

Robyn: the really big ones, 

Barbara: but you know, they're all over the country. They're all over the world. Just, it's not hard.

Robyn: Well, congratulations, Barbara. You are now officially part of the club. Let's say someone wants to follow you and keep up with your photography and your life. Where would they go? Where can we find you in this virtual Suncoast world? 

Barbara: Well, you can find me on Instagram, Barbara Banks, photos. You can find me on the web Barbara I have a presence on Facebook I don't visit. So if you want to contact me, actually, you can go to my website and fill out the contact form or just Google me and call my office. That's probably the most direct. So, , I'm here and I, I like to respond promptly to, Oh, especially for coffee. 

Katherine: We liked that 

Barbara: and discussion or to go to the museum, 

Katherine: we are going to put all the links for your various, , locations online in our show notes. So listeners can go to our website to find the links. So if , they don't have their pencil and paper handy right now. Or are they. Can't remember, they can go look you up there and directly link and then bring your phone and have coffee or get their picture taken. Aye. So value these conversations. And I thank you so much for taking the time with us today to sit down and. Talk to you too. So about your life and the Suncoast. 

Robyn: Yeah, it's been great, Barbara. I was very excited to have you introduced to our audience. We've got about six listeners and so, no, that's not true.

Katherine: That's not true, but you are a Juul in our Suncoast culture. And we,  really like to focus on all the different kinds of cultural arts in our organization. You're our first. Photographer, and I don't know who else could live up to your billing, but, , we're really thank you for your time today and for sharing your talents with all of us on the Suncoast each and every day.

Barbara: Thank you so much. You're both great. And I look forward to listening to more podcasts. 

Robyn: It's a podcast 

Katherine: we can deliver on that. 

Robyn: Thanks Barbara. Bye-bye. 

Barbara: Thank you.