Merry Christmas everybody!
Today’s lessons on 365 projects and staying inspired comes in the form of an interview with the lovely and very talented Sarah Ann Loreth, a New Hampton based conceptual and self portrait photographer.
Do you feel taking up a 365 project has been helpful in your photography?
Sarah: Oh absolutely! I feel like it was the cause of me growing at such an astronomically fast rate. It forced me to go out and practice every single day. And you know what they say about practice. But it kind of fizzled out after about day 150 or so. I started getting to be such a perfectionist and it stressed me out too much. I failed it. But I’m still counting anyway out of habit and stubbornness. I should have been done in October and in reality if I uploaded everything I did shoot, I would have completed it right on time. But I only wanted to upload the best.
Further, what are the best and the most difficult parts of doing one?
The best would definitely be the rate of growth. I’ve followed others undertaking the same project and it’s just crazy how fast people grow.
The worst is the stress. I think everyone encounters it who decides to try the project. It’s hard. It’s really hard. That’s why a lot of people don’t finish and I give so much credit to everyone who does. It becomes a bit of a habit and an expectation where if you don’t have an idea it really becomes a stressful thing. And coming up with ideas, that was so tough.
How do you find inspiration for your photographs?
I read a lot! Poetry and book and everything. Sometimes I go to my favorite poets and pick a line and try to recreate it photographically. I also draw a lot of inspiration from movies and other photographers. Though I’m trying to change my way of being inspired as more of a process instead of the usual random bolt of lightening if you will. The “OH! That would look awesome!” It would be easier if I could brainstorm.
So do you have any poets, writers or films which appear in many of your photos?
I do! I am working on a bit of a literary suicide series. It’s kind of an on going project. I’ve played Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Virginia Woolf, and Edgar Allan Poe.
And who are the photographers that inspire you?
There are so many! Flickrwise:
Terra Kate, Alex Stoddard, Karrah Kobus, Rosie Hardy! Gosh there are so many.
I’m also adore Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, and Tim Walker!
I don’t know, I am just so drawn to photographers that are able to tell stories and see the world in a different unusual way.
Do you find your self portrait work has made it easier to direct other people when photographing them?
To me, I found it actually limited my ability to work with others. You just kind of get used to doing it all yourself. And I had such bad social anxiety the thought of working with models absolutely terrified me. That’s why I put off doing it for so long. But I knew to grow as a photographer I had to just go out there and do it. So, I did. I worked with my first model and August and I’ve been since. It’s different and sometimes I start feeling out of practice with self portraiture. In the end though working with others had made me evaluate my work as a whole and how I went about it. And I’m still terrible at directing but I’m getting better!
To what degree do you plan or envision your photographs before taking them?
Pretty much almost completely. I don’t feel I create my best work when I “wing it”. My best work is created when I sketch out my details and completely think out what I’m trying to achieve. I like to have my concepts at least detailed a few weeks before the shoot.
Which is your favourite photograph you’ve taken? Which was the most challenging?
Well that changes with my moods. But most recently it would have to be this one:
I think because it came out EXACTLY how I had envisioned it. I find those are always my favorites, when I can see when I saw in my head. And Dawn was such a great sport letting me light her on fire.
And my most challenging was probably this:
At least for shooting. I never meant for the fishtank to break. But it did. It smashed in my tub with me in it and I got so mangled! So I decided to just go with it and turn the shower on haha
What gear do you use?
I use the Canon 5d Mark ii with almost primarily the 50mm 1.2
Are you Happy with your current level of gear?
I am absolutely! These were both my dream camera and lens and I saved for months and months and months for them. It was worth all the cost!
What post processing do your images go through?
Almost all of my conceptual images are composited together from numerous other photos to create one. So, I expand, brighten, darken, sharpen if needed, and color correct!
That’s about it really.
What is the next step in your photography?
Artificial lighting 😦 I know I need to learn it to grow as a photographer but it feels like I’m learning photography all over again. It scares me and I’ve been procrastinating on buying gear. But I’ll get there, when I’m ready!
What advice would you give to others pursuing photography?
Go for it! Don’t be afraid to be open to new ideas and always challenge yourself. Sometimes you’ll feel down on yourself and your work but keep creating. It’s the journey and your own personal growth that matter. And always always always keep a level head and pay it forward. The only competition in art is with yourself, so be helpful and don’t worry so much about what other people are doing. Just be true to yourself and your art and have confidence in yourself and you’ll go places!
You may find Sarah on flickr, facebook and her Etsy store