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What Tina Barney Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Tina Barney

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked the photographer Tina Barney — who just had a solo exhibit of her early work at Kasmin — about the portable radio that helps her sleep better, the New Balance shoes she wears year-round, and the camera she’s had for over four decades.

If I don’t have it with me I panic — it helps me sleep. I put it under my pillow and have it on very low, and I listen to the BBC in the middle of the night. There is a fantastic film critic who comes on at two in the morning; she’s such a great critic. It’s my security blanket. I can’t even believe they make such a thing today, it’s so simple. I know a couple other women my age who do the same thing. I’ll break one from time to time and then I’ll just order another one.

It’s really ugly, but you know how you get comfortable with the same purse or wallet? I take it on shoots with me and it just fits a water bottle and one credit card, maybe a comb, some crackers to eat, a lens cleaner — that’s all I usually bring. I don’t bring very much; the assistants have anything else I might need. I’ve tried to get other ones, but they don’t fit the water bottle. I have washed it, too, and it survived.

In the winter I wear black, in the summer I wear gray. I have bad feet and have to use orthotics, so I need a good support shoe. I used to go to a store, Enslow, on the Upper East Side, and that’s where I first got them. Other shoes, even with high soles, don’t give me the support I need like these.

I used to be a fashion victim, my sister much more than me, when we were in our 20s, and at some point I became the polar opposite and have no desire to go shopping. It does not interest me anymore. When I find one thing I just keep buying it. I use everything Clinique. I never wore very much makeup, and now I wear less and less. I like Clinique for the colors, not a lot of perfume, and they’re kind of classic. I’ll put the moisturizer on first and then the blush.

I’m a creature of habit, and have had it since 1981. One of my teachers I think might have had that same model. It’s just very simple and durable.

[Editor’s note: This camera is temporary out of stock at B&H Photo, where it’s cheapest, but you can enter your email on the product page to get notified when it’s back in stock there.]

Sometimes I need to use a digital camera for a fashion shoot, and I’ll use this one. My photographs are four-by-five feet, so I need a camera that can give me resolution for something that size or bigger. It’s light and it’s small. If you saw this camera, it looks like a 35-mm. from the 1970s; it can be handheld, it’s incredible.

Mitch Epstein: In India

Where I live in Rhode Island, I have a whole bookshelf with all my books on photography. I refer to them and go back to them all the time. This is one of my favorites of Mitch’s. He’s made many many books; this one is just perfectly produced and designed.

One of the more exciting artists out there today — having one of her books and going through one of her books is special and different.

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What Tina Barney Can’t Live Without