Thomas Barbey was born in Connecticut in 1957, his upbringing was cosmopolitan in the extreme. His parents moved to Europe when he was six-months old. They lived in Italy and Germany for a time, then settled in Geneva, Switzerland, for 17 years. Barbey began drawing seriously at the age of 13. He attended the University of Geneva, but left to pursue a successful career as a recording artist and lyricist. After entering the Italian music charts, he moved to Italy and stayed for fifteen years.
Photography began as a hobby, but soon he was earning a living as a fashion photographer. The process behind his beautiful collages is just as fascinating as the images themselves. Barbey explains, “The montages are created by carefully choosing printing procedures, such as combination printing; sandwiching negatives together, thereby printing them simultaneously; pre-planned double exposure in the camera; the re-photographing of collaged photographs; or a combination of the above.” They all start with his own black-and-white photographs, taken all over the world. The artist patiently assembles the fragments until some larger meaning emerges. “Every image is the combination of at least two or more negatives that give birth to a completely unusual vision,” says Barbey. “And the title of the final image is the glue and substance of the piece.”