I don’t remember how the fates brought us together, but I’ve been scoping out Elizabeth Sarah’s photography for what seems like years now. Her work is loose and natural, with hints of nostalgia, all tumbled together with subjects that I just can’t figure out– are they intentional or not? I interviewed Elizabeth Sarah last week, and this is what she had to say.
Elizabeth Sarah’s self portrait.
1.) Your bio says that you grew up in NYC, and you hope to live there the rest of your life! What is it about the city that informs your work? How does shooting outside the city work for you?
I’m not sure that NY has an immediate influence on my work, though I believe that it must have some underlying impact! NY just allows me to be who I am and not worry what others think. It is truly a land of opportunities and the center of the world. So while I dream of, or actually go venturing to other corners of the world, NY is always my home and my center. I need my adventures to keep my blood flowing!
2.) I love that you say, “I love to shoot nature, but am not a nature photographer”. How would you describe your style?
I have no idea how to describe my style!! I like too many different things and I am constantly questioning if that is a good or bad thing. I can’t resist a beautiful landscape or still life, yet I am so intrigued and am determined to succeed in other types such as fashion. I suppose I can call my work photojournalistic. I like it to have a sense of reality; even if I stage a scene, I never want it appear artificial.
3.) Your photos feel vintage and aged, yet unforgiveably modern at the same time. How did you start cultivating that look? Were there other artists you looked to, to inform that look?
Thank you! I started shooting with only Polaroids and when the film got discontinued and all my money was gone from buying it off of Ebay, i realized i needed to try new mediums. I love film and all of its good and frustrating characteristics that come along with it. Film has taught me that there is nothing else like it and it is irreplaceable. I believe that when and if film is completely dead, that I will stop too, though I hope that day never comes. I’ve always been inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sally Mann; they both have an eye for timeless, raw honesty.
4.) I see your work as “everyday journeys”– things regular people do to escape, weather it’s on a road trip or spitting on someone to change up routine. Your processes make the pieces feel familiar and relatable, like you are viewing your own story, or the story of someone you know intimately. What’s going through your mind when you are putting these together?
I simply want to remember and share everything that I see or imagine! Everyone would like to think they can remember things without photographs by just holding it close to their heart and in their memories, but the truth is that memory fades. When I miss a shot, I feel like a little part of me died.
5.) You use a variety of cameras to achieve your images. What’s your favorite? What did you get started with, and what advice would you give to a beginner who is trying to dip their feet into photography?
I started with a Polaroid sx70 and my favorite is my Polaroid 195. i think instant film is a great way to break into photography; it allows you to focus on the image you are creating rather than all the little technical details. And when it develops right in front of your eyes, you can immediately learn from your artistic mistakes, rather than fooling around with all the unnecessary settings on a digital camera and getting distracted.