Who are you and where are you based?
Sarah from Love Katie + Sarah. I live in the heaven on earth that is The Dandenong Ranges.
How long have you been doing photography? How did you get into it?
Since I was fifteen. I had a friend in high school who was my muse. Her dad had an amazing camera so we used to borrow it on weekends and I’d photograph her all around the country town we grew up in, doing all sorts of ridiculous, artsy-fartsy poses. Digital hadn’t come in yet, so we were using film which meant saving up our hard earned pennies to pay for it all, as well as the development. Because I learned on film, every shot was sacred. I would sometimes spend 10 minutes waiting for the right light before I snapped a single shot. I learned composition that way, and I also learned how to get the best out of a human subject. Some of those early portraits I am still immensely proud of!
Did you always want to be a photographer? What was your path to photography like?
No way, I don’t think I ever considered it. It was just something I always did. Right out of school I worked in commercial radio. After six years in radio I got a hankering to write and perform theatre full time. I studied performing arts at uni (where I met Katie) and eventually the photography bug bit because I got sick of seeing actors with crap headshots who had just spent $1000 for one awful photo. I started doing headshots for free and when it turned into a full time job I started charging. It was only when friends started to get married and asked me to shoot their weddings that I considered going further into that side of things. I’m now in a really interesting place where I’m slightly bemused and altogether overwhelmed by how this actually happened.
Favourite kind of bride/groom/wedding?
I really wish I could answer “same sex wedding”. Hopefully that will happen soon. I’m a bit over girls and boys marrying each other haha. But ask any photographer, and they will say – relaxed – the couples who just say “We love what you do, we trust you, go for it!”. We always get the best results with those couples.
Best career moment?
When I worked in radio, one Saturday I was instructed to take a taxi to the home of a competition winner, sit in their backyard and drink record company provided beers under a clothes line while one of my all time favourite Aussie bands played a gig on acoustic guitars. It was the most Australian I’ve ever felt. That was the best day of my working life.
Worst career moment?
At Donut King when I was 15. I pulled back the glass counter tops to clean off all the cream and icing that had smeared everywhere throughout the day…one counter pulled down the other, which pulled down the other. All three smashed and there was glass for days all across the shopping centre floor. Because it was Christmas holidays, they couldn’t find a glazier to replace it, so they had to drape this horrible opaque plastic sheeting over where the glass was meant to go, and no one could actually see the donuts. Every day of the summer of 1998 I was reminded how much I’d screwed my boss over. To this day I’m not sure how I kept my job. I think it was because I smiled a lot.
Favourite thing to photograph?
Faces. Nothing staged. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that happen when you happen to have your camera at the ready.
What do people think photography is like versus what it is really like?
It is physically the hardest work I’ve ever done. I get home from an all day wedding and need to soak in the bath for an hour for my back to loosen up. My masseuse said the only other client she has with tighter muscles than me is a bricklayer. Crazy! The other thing is that a lot of people think “It’s creative! It must be fun! You’ll work for free!”. That really is a hard one to swallow, and happens more often than you’d think.
I’m biased, but Collingwood Children’s Farm is totally magical (I got married in the paddock there last year!).
Any other projects that are close to your heart at the moment outside of photography?
We’re remodelling our kitchen, so I’ve been pretending I’m on Grand Designs for the past week. Next year I’m taking my theatre show CHOIR GIRL on tour between all our wedding bookings. And (I’m actually giggling as I type this because of how wanky it sounds) I am about to start writing my first young adult novel. Lots of exciting things ahead!