Discovering Artistic Visions with Ray Barbee

Exploring the Intersection of Skateboarding and Photography: A Conversation with Ray Barbee


In collaboration with Vans, ComplexCon recently organized a series of captivating photo walks, led by talented photographers Ray Barbee, Daniel Arnold, MIRANDA BARNES, and BROCK FETCH. Each photographer brought their own distinct style and background to these walks, guiding participants through the convention and the vibrant streets of Long Beach.

Ray Barbee: A Multifaceted Cultural Icon

Ray Barbee, hailing from San Jose, California, is not only an accomplished skateboarder but also a gifted musician and photographer. His journey in skateboarding began in 1984 when he was in seventh grade, ultimately propelling him to become one of the most influential skateboarders of his generation. Ray’s versatility and creative talent have not only established him as a prominent figure in the skateboarding world but also in art and cultural spheres.

Connecting Childhood Memories to Photography

During a conversation with Ray Barbee, we delved into his early experiences with photography and its resonance in his childhood. Recalling his first encounter with skateboard magazines, Ray realized the profound impact that photography could have on him. It was through these magazines that he developed an emotional connection to captivating images, which opened up a whole new world of artistic expression for him. Furthermore, Ray’s fascination with album covers from his parents’ record collection, featuring artists like Marvin Gaye, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and Richard Pryor, served as his initial exposure to mesmerizing visuals.

A Journey into Photography

Like many beginners, Ray’s early photographic endeavors consisted of capturing snapshots of his life and travels, particularly during his skateboarding journeys. His interests were wide-ranging, but an underlying theme emerged – people. Whether it was his friends on the road or interesting individuals he encountered, Ray instinctively directed his lens towards capturing the human element within his photographs.

The Influence of Skating Photography

Having close friends who were professional skate photographers, Ray noticed their shift in gear when transitioning from action shots to personal moments. This observation led him to question the equipment he was using and sparked a desire to gain more control over his photographic process. Instilled with a newfound curiosity, he embarked on a quest to learn photography with a manual camera and