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“America’s Next Top Model” Judge Speaks About His New Novel at Barnes and Noble

Esteemed photographer and “America’s Next Top Model” judge, Nigel Barker, poses with fans after his book talk at Barnes and Noble for his new novel The Beauty Equation.

Pamela Kivi ’11
Staff Writer

Esteemed photographer and "America's Next Top Model" judge, Nigel Barker, poses with fans at Barnes and Noble after his book talk for his new novel, The Beauty Equation.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, “America’s Next Top Model” judge, Nigel Barker paid a visit to the Westport Barnes and Noble to promote his new novel, The Beauty Equation. An eclectic crowd of both young and old fashion junkies and “America’s Next Top Model” fans eagerly waited for his arrival. A fresh copy of Barker’s new book perched on each lap.

As he finally approached, Barker had an undeniably strong presence.

The world-renowned photographer and judge on the hit television series holds a major name for himself in the glamorous world of fashion and beauty. While these glamorous industries hold the reputation of being rather cut-throat and shallow, Barker proved to be quite the opposite.

It all began when Barker’s mother entered him in a televised modeling competition in the 1980’s. This kick-started his career and he spent the following decade traveling to cities such as Milan, Paris and New York for modeling jobs. After being in front of the camera for quite awhile, Barker decided to flip roles.

His love of fashion had evolved into an enormous passion, and he was ready to endure a whole new journey that involved capturing the depth and complexity behind each face. In 1996, he established his own studio, StudioNB, in the Meat Packing District of New York City.

Since then Barker has been extremely successful capturing exquisite images for magazines such as GQ and Interview. But beyond physical beauty, Nigel strives to convey so much more through his images.

We live in a world where young women are constantly bombarded with idealistic yet unrealistic standards. As he stands at a solid 6’ 4’’ grasping the microphone, Barker introduces his novel as his “baby” and delivers a refreshing message that has been long overdue in the fashion industry.

The Beauty Equation presents the reader with a personal challenge at the end of each chapter. Barker has even established an interactive website, which allows readers to document their progress and have discussions with fellow beauty queens.

Barker offers a fresh take on beauty that contrasts the army of waif-like figures with high cheekbones and perfect pouts that are so common in the modeling world. This new concept of beauty might just spark a trend.

Q&A with Nigel Barker
Pamela Kivi- What kind of message are you trying to send through your new book?

Nigel Barker- “I’m really trying to inspire people to erase the notion that to be beautiful is to be a retouched model, and to consider beauty from within. To be iconic is to be beautiful. It is the life you lead, not the way you look.”

PK- What is your definition of true beauty?

NB- “A life well lived. To be honest with you I enjoy shooting older people more so than I do younger people, mostly because of the life they’ve lead and what they’re doing. Although I often see enormous hope in youth, the stories aren’t there so much. Sometimes when I’ve traveled to places like Haiti and Africa I’ve come across very young people who have obviously lived enormous lives already and you really see it in the pictures. There is a heartache there, but there is also a lot of hope. You can see in their eyes the striving for life, doing all they can, fighting, and there is where you get the most magnificent shots. It’s really there in every one of us. And I think that’s really the reason why I wanted to write the book.”

PK- Do you have any advice for young people who are interested in becoming involved in the fashion or entertainment industry?

NB- You’ve just got to go for it. I get asked all the time how you break into a fashion or entertainment, and there are many different ways from interning to becoming someone’s assistant, following them. But you really have to know your stuff. It’s a very competitive business and it simply isn’t enough that you like clothes. That’s the reason why I studied pattern cutting, tailoring, and weaving. And some if it I found really boring, but it didn’t matter, its still really good to know all those things. It gives you a real good knowledge of that business.

PK- When you were in high school, what were you doing to prepare you for the career you have today?

NB- “When I was in high school, what I was doing was extra curricular activities that didn’t pertain to what people thought I was going to do, which was medicine. Sometimes you can limit yourself and just get stuck in one thing and you don’t try something different. Variety is the spice of life. That’s how I try to go about my life all the time. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t. But if you don’t try it, you’ll never know. “

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