Photographer Shows Us What It Takes to Pull Off an Incredible Shoot in a Louisiana Swamp

What happens when you pack up an entire production crew, a bunch of kids, and a thrifty budget, and drive south for 24 hours to New Orleans to capture images in the Louisiana swamp? Matt Barnes shares a behind-the-scenes video of the production of his personal project, entitled Hell or High Water.

A Concept Born of Personal Yearning

Image by Matt Barnes

Barnes, who is one of the amazing artists behind Toronto's award-winning West Side Studio, began to build the concept from an idea that was sparked after a friend was baptized. He felt he needed his own "rebirth/cleansing of the soul", and with inspiration from a previous voodoo-themed project, he started to undertake the hundreds of hours that would be required to plan and execute this enormous project.

Carrying the Whole Crew Down to Louisiana

Barnes says he basically brought the whole team, including the children, animal wranglers, scouts, and producers, on the 24 hour drive from Toronto to New Orleans. Since this was a personal project, they kept things as thrifty as possible by creating their own props and costumes, without sacrificing production value.

Hours of Planning Lead to an Outstanding Result

Image by Matt Barnes

As you can see from the BTS video, it took hours of logistical planning, loads of equipment, and a village of people to pull this production off, many of whom had to be brave enough to endure the swamp waters and all of the sneaky creatures that live within. Productions like this are no small feat, but this kind of work, preparation and planning produce the results that make photographers like Barnes so sought after.

The resulting images and this video are nothing short of amazing. The still images resulting from the production were captured with a Nikon D850 and a Sigma 20mm lens. The motion was shot on an Arri Amira with Canon CNE prime lenses. To see more of Barnes's work, follow him on instagram here.

All images used with permission from Matt Barnes. 

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Mr Hogwallop's picture

Cool pics and story.

David Pavlich's picture

Thanks for a neat article! I lived in and around New Orleans for a little over 20 years. We just moved to Winnipeg, MB (my wife is from Winnipeg and we made a pact that at retirement, she would come back to be near family) and I do miss it. For all its foibles, Louisiana in general and New Orleans specifically are unique. A great place to be a photographer!!

Michael Deaton's picture

Very cool production! It says this was a "personal project" so I'm wondering is the goal a personal one or is there cash to be made from this? I ask because I have a ton of "personal projects" I'd love to do as well, but finding the cash to cover everything is a mofo.