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October 1, 2023

Mississippi Roots Photography

Faith Barnett has a distinctive talent

by Jack Criss

The Bolivar Bullet

Merigold resident, Faith Barnett, began her business, Mississippi Roots Photography, ten years ago as a side venture. That venture, however, has taken over a creative and distinctive life of its own and positioned Barnett as one of the Delta’s most innovative photographers.

A full-time art teacher by day at Hayes Cooper, Barnett said her passion for photography began when, as a teenager, she found one of her mother’s old cameras. “I started using it to go around with a friend of mine of the time to take photos of old buildings and so forth,” she said. “I think deep down I had always had the heart of an artist and my mom encouraged me as I started taking pictures. I went on to take some photography classes at Delta State but, honestly, I never had a plan to start a business in the field or pursue photography as anything other than a passion. But, after a couple of years, I changed my major to photography, and graphic design, and began to focus on it and put my energies into it.” Barnett received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at DSU in 2012 and her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education in 2016.

Barnett said that, for her clients with Mississippi Roots Photography, she primarily uses the digital format. For her more personal art, however, she uses more traditional film on her own time. “I can even use a darkroom!” she laughed. “Right now, I’ve been utilizing Polaroids and have been enjoying using that method. I like the science of it and, really, the imperfection of it–it’s more real to me. Again, though, for clients it’s quicker and more efficient to use digital for what they need shot.”

Does she find a conflict between being an artist on the one hand and a businesswoman on the other with her photography? “I always try to stick to my aesthetic guns,” she said. “So, if a client comes to me with ideas that they want, I immediately send them to my website to make sure I can provide what they’re expecting. My work is somewhat moody and darkly lit, so I want to be honest and upfront about my style and make sure it matches their expectations.”

Barnett added, “I’m true to myself as an artist and, truthfully, I’m fairly private about my personal work. That said, I think my artistic vision still comes forth even in my commercial, business work. Honestly, though, I had never really thought about having a personal ‘vision’ until, just recently, a few of my clients commented on what they saw as the authenticity of my work and honestly they felt and observed upon seeing it. The way I use the light and the fact that I don’t pose or force anything on my subject(s)–I’m not a trendy photographer, by any means–and don’t want to be.”

While not having had many public showings of her work, Barnett says that might change soon.

“For the past ten years, since around the time I started Mississippi Roots Photography, I began a highly personal project based on a life experience,” she shared. “When it’s completed, I might try and have it displayed or shown. I’m so busy teaching, I really don’t have the time or inclination to seek out gallery displays or events. Again, that might change with this new project, which I think I’ll show within the next year or so. It’s called ‘Love Letters,’” she said, “and it’s more of mixed-media work which is somewhat philosophical. It deals with self-discovery and love as well as how one’s past influences their present.”

Barnett, who was born in Glen Allen and lived for a time in Oxford before moving back to Bolivar County, said she will travel for work in her business, mainly in southern states, but recently was reached out to by a potential client in California. “I’m always open to travel,” she said. 

Having taught art at Hayes Cooper for a year now–and also at Pearman Elementary in Cleveland, Barnett said her young students, pre-K through sixth grade currently, have often inspired her own personal work. As did a stint teaching high schoolers in graphic design and art in Batesville several years back. 

“I mentor these kids as their teacher, of course, but we bounce ideas off of each other, too,” she said, “so it’s a reciprocal influence. I have gotten ideas from them, sure. It’s a lot of fun to teach and I thoroughly enjoy it and love teaching a subject that is so near and dear to me personally.”

Barnett said, regarding future plans, she might consider getting a Masters in Art and teaching on a college level or perhaps focus on growing her photography business. “It’s not that I’m limbo,” she said, “I’m just carefully planning my options while enjoying my career now.”

For more information on Barnett and Mississippi Roots Photography, visit www.mississippiroots.photo.