“The thing that really struck me when I was photographing the athletes was their unabashed confidence on set. I think this is because of Special Olympics and the training they have received. They are athletes who understand pressure. Off set they may have been nervous, but on set they were champions. They took risks. They rose to the challenge. Even working with professional models that’s not always the case and it was astounding to behold."
During NYFW in September, Barker worked again with these students and athletes to kick off the launch of a new Special Olympics initiative called BE BRAVE. He photographed four Special Olympics New York athletes—Daniel Fletcher, Alfred Ha, Larissa Walker, and Janissa Lloyd—modeling the uniforms designed by Parsons students Jessica Tan, Weijing Xiao, and Xinyi Su, along with a line of BE BRAVE swag. The photo shoot was streamed live on @NYFW. STYLE of SPORT was there on set, and was given the opportunity to talk to all the players involved in the making of this campaign.
The BE BRAVE collaboration was tailor made for fashion photographer and TV personality, Barker, well-known from such competition shows as America’s Next Top Model and The Face. He told STYLE of SPORT, “The BE BRAVE initiative brought everything I do to the table. Working with these young designers, to help push them along, make suggestions, and really just encourage their creative process was incredibly rewarding. To then actually produce the designs, see them on the athletes, and photograph them with the designers there on the sidelines was just extraordinary.”