I'm so excited to have Sara as one of our guest posters! I met her long ago, when I was pregnant with my now 6.5 year old. I found her online and was immediately taken by her photography. She inspired me in the beginning with my digital camera, fumbling all around with my settings and trying to figure out which lens to use for what. Her photos of her kids were some of the most lively, animated, pure, and intimate that I had ever seen before. She really propelled me into my own passion for photography and I owe a lot to her for that! So, without further ado, please welcome Sara! Also, visit her photography website here.
How did you get started in photography?
As a child and teenager, I was always the “girl with the camera”. I was always running to the local drugstore in a frenzy to pick up my latest prints. I would tear them open right there in the store and the rest of the world would fade away and I re-lived those moments of life captured forever. I would ALWAYS get doubles because I loved giving prints to my friends and family.
When I was 20 years old, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Air National Guard as a “Still Photographic Specialist”. I signed on the dotted line and committed 6 years of my life to my country. It offered free photography training and the use of cutting edge equipment. I loved my time there…the people were brilliant and crazy. I trained at the “art school” of the military in Maryland with graphic designers, videographers, and PR folk. I took photos of Generals, homecoming events, and flew in refueling tankers.
It was the start of something that would stick with me the rest of my life.
I’ve always gravitated towards a more documentary/wide angle style when using my “fancy” camera. With the introduction of iPhones and Instagram…I see things in square little details of life. Magical moments. It’s truly changed everything!
We traveled the country full-time in an RV for almost four years, and that experience completely changed who I was as a photographer. Everyday I was surrounded by inspiration. New people. New places. Constantly.
After we stopped traveling, the slowing of the pace was a bit hard to get used to. But it was a blessing because my eyes then became focused on the EVERYDAY. The messes. The giggles. The food. The relationships. Beautiful.
You seem to have such an amazing ability to capture people in such beautiful ways. How do you achieve this?
Photographing people is about relationship and timing. When your subject is comfortable with you and you are laughing and connecting…that’s when those magical photos emerge.
But that photo doesn’t usually “just happen”. I might shoot 70-80 photos to get the perfect shot. I wait for a person’s true expressions to start emerging and try to grab it. If they aren’t used to being photographed, it can be quite difficult! But keep shooting…and it will happen!
What equipment do you use?
Right now, the majority of my photos are shot with an iPhone 5. I use Snapseed, PicFX, Hipstamatic, and Instagram. For my clients and events, I use a Canon 5D Mark II. My favorite lenses are my 35L and my 17-40L. I also have an 85mm 1.8.
What was the best thing you ever did for yourself as a photographer?
I gave myself permission to leave my big camera at home…even for family gatherings/events.
When I can take photos and edit them in the palm of my hand, I put so many more images out there for family and friends to see. I realized that because I was so busy, most of my images were sitting on my computer…probably never to be seen again. Using my iPhone allows me to be creative and capture memories quickly and efficiently.
It allows me to photograph things that I wouldn’t normally have thought to capture. I have an enormous number of photos of our daily life. I look back through them and cannot help but smile. What a treasure these images will be for my daughters and their daughters…a legacy.
What was the hardest shoot you've ever had and why?
While in the military, I had an assignment to shoot a family farewell event for a troop that was shipping out that day. It was excruciating seeing so many spouses and children in tears as they said goodbye. I allowed the camera to act as a filter on my emotions…so I was able to complete my assignment. But it was a day I will never forget.
What do you find the most challenging aspect of photography?
With a camera in hand, there is always a separation. A thin veil. I’m always trying to find the balance between capturing a moment in time, and being fully present in that moment.
What advice would you give new photographers?
- Learn to use your camera in manual mode…getting out of auto will change your life.
- Understand the importance of good light…it will make or break your photos.
- The best camera is the one you have with you…shoot the everyday magic!