When I was an Art Director at Atlantic Records, Sara walked into my office to show me her portfolio. She was a breath of fresh air then, and remains one now. Her work has a purity to it that is very tangible.
Sara's Creative Process :
Creating photographs, for me, involves a lot of leaping back and forth between rationality and instinct.
A project always begins with subject and a concept, often brought to me by a client. A musician might say to me, “I want to incorporate vivid colors into the photos because that’s how this album feels to me.” Or a family might say, “we want a portrait that shows our real personalities, but we also want to look good!” I love being given a concept or even just the spark of an idea that I can run with. I have always loved the collaborative nature of portrait photography. The photos I’ve included here were self-assigned, but even when the concept is mine, portraits are always collaborative because the subject adds so much. This series is a good example of how my creative process always involves both planning and serendipity, on many levels.
One level is the concept: I was about to cut my daughter’s hair for the first time in her life, and wanted to document it in all glory so that I could let it go even though I loved it. That was the planned part, and it worked!: I cherish the photos, and was able to send her long braid off to Locks of Love, knowing I’d always have the pictures. The serendipitous part was that soon after the haircut we found out we were moving. I needed some photos for our moving announcement, and immediately thought of the motion of her hair in the pictures -- the beauty and the chaos of it, wild yet cohesive, dramatic yet fleeting, the perfect metaphor for how life is ever-changing and the perfect talisman for taking our new town by storm. So even after planning pictures, I always find unexpected meanings in them: ideas generate images which generate ideas…
The visual crafting itself is also a mix of planning and intuition. When preparing for a shoot I think about what the person looks like, what they want to convey, what colors the clothes and background should be, and perhaps most importantly, how I will light the scene. But then, once we’re shooting, it’s all instinct: what will make the person comfortable, what angle brings out their loveliness or their spirit and what framing works – all that is, to me, only knowable in the moment. I kind of lose my rational mind when I’m shooting and just get very excited by what I’m seeing. I shoot and shoot, and sometimes it’s almost a greedy feeling, like I’m gobbling up something visually delicious, or gathering it into my camera. Which I am, I guess. Passionately collecting, I guess would be the nicer way to say it.
The third phase of a shoot, the editing and processing of the images, is where the images go from good to spectacular. Like the first 2 phases, my right and left brain hemispheres are both in play. Looking through hundreds or thousands of images and choosing the few that stand out is again very instinctual, more about which ones grab at my guts rather than any explainable criteria. But this alternates for hours with the craftsmanship of tinkering with them, adjusting the color balance and contrast and so on, something which is learnable and teachable. I’ve always loved this about photography: that it’s both a craft and an art. Because of that, you have to have one foot in each world.
You can see more of her work here http://www.sarapress.com and if we are lucky, one day, she'll tell us her process of creating artist books.
Sara is curious about Paul Laffoley's creative process. http://paullaffoley.net/about-2/