Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview with a Photographer: Sarah Robertson of Image Bearers Photography

Every interview I tell you how much I love the work of the photographer I am interviewing.
And it is true this week as well.
Sarah Robertson is one of my very favorites for certain.
I have loved Sarah’s work from the very beginning. She is one of my absolute favorites.
Prepare to be amazed!
How long have you lived in California? sarah 3
Are you a California girl?sarah 5     I have lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. It is my home and I have grown to love it. I grew up in a New Jersey suburb of New York City, though, and that is the city that really makes my heart beat! And am I a true California Girl? No way! You can take the girl out of Jersey but never the Jersey out of the girl!sarah 5
Tell me about your children. What are their names? How did you come up with those? Who likes to model for you?    sarah 3  I have four: Daniel, Catie, Sam and Paul. sarah 2My husband named them all and they love knowing that Daddy picked their names. sarah 4
My children do not like to model for me. I don’t even try to make them anymore, but they are very good at completely ignoring my camera and allowing me to take the candid sort of pictures that have defined my style. sarah 1I prefer these images anyway. In fact, I think my shooting style was born in shooting my children. Rather than force them to pose, I embraced their indifference and caught the candid moments that show their true personalities and character.
Tell me about your first camera. Tell me about the moment you knew you were not going to ever be able to go through life without shooting.sarah 1
My first DSLR camera was a Nikon D60 and a Christmas gift from my husband. My passion for photography began almost immediately. The moment, though, when I knew that shooting and freezing time through photography would forever impact the course of my life came later that same year. sarah 2My neighbor was expecting a baby that had been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and the baby was not expected to live long after birth. They asked me to be at the hospital with them after his birth and take pictures of his short life. That experience changed me as a photographer and as a human being. At baby Paul’s funeral, the pastor spoke about Paul’s short life affecting the lives of many, and I remember being overwhelmed with the realization that it had forever changed mine. Part of what I do in my work, is to freeze the moments in life that happen only once. Paul’s short life was my first experience with that and pointed me toward what I want to be doing; capturing those events that can not be repeated but define our lives (an engagement, a wedding, a birth, an adoption, a last family visit during terminal illness, etc.) . It is LIFE photography. You can see a slideshow of baby Paul’s images here.sarah 3
Tell me about your style. Does everyone like your picture style? Have you ever had someone say, 'No, I like posed better?' Do you ever question your style and think you should do it like other people?sarah 5
No, not everyone likes my style. I think that Kodak has brainwashed our culture into thinking that “smile at the camera” pictures are the only way to create good images.sarah 1 And when I was portfolio building, there were many people who were looking for posed portrait type images. I really believe that anyone with a nice camera can take a picture like that. sarah 4What (I think!) sets me apart from other fancy DSLR camera owners is the way I artistically, candidly and “naturally” capture images of my clients being themselves, living their lives and most importantly, being REAL.sarah 3 I think I have gotten to a point in my business where clients know my work, know what to expect from my images and are hiring me for what I do (instead of what I do not do: those posed, traditional portraits they can find from many, many other photographers out there).  sarah 2   In my wedding photography work, I want my style to reflect genuine photojournalism; as if a photographer from the New York Times was following you on your wedding day, capturing the news story of your event, the moments and the details that most people never know and then artistically telling the visual story of your day.sarah 4
Does your family love your new profession? Do they get excited about your pictures? sarah 1            
My husband is very proud of me and also my biggest (and most relied on) critic. My children, on the other hand, seem to be excited about it in different ways. They love the days when I have “weddings” because it usually means a fun day alone with daddy or a day spent at a friend’s house! Go figure…sarah 6
After you shot your first wedding, what did you think of wedding photography?sarah 14I was in love. Love at first shot!!!sarah 12
Would you ever shoot a wedding alone? sarah 11
I have a very small (15 person) wedding in Santa Barbara booked for next month that I will shoot alone. It is small enough that I can confidently cover the day on my own, without fear of missing something essential. That exception aside, though, I will always shoot with a second. Rosina Waszaj shoots with me on all of my other normally booked weddings and I absolutely rely on her ability to capture details artistically and shoot other angles during a ceremony and throughout the day.sarah 3 I know I can trust her eye to get what I need and her style fits and compliments mine very well. Our strengths lies in different areas and it makes us a great team. She also can read my mind and understand my incomprehensible sentences, which is a definite bonus!sarah 1
Tell me about pricing for you. Was that hard for you to do? How did you determine what to charge?  sarah 2   For wedding photography, I started off shooting inexpensively to build my portfolio and I felt I needed to offer a deal (so to speak) to earn the trust of my clients who were really taking a chance on me and my inexperience. sarah 5Over time though, I have realized that I don’t want clients to book me just because I am inexpensive and then expect a traditionally shot wedding. sarah 4I do not shoot a traditional wedding! I raised my prices, in part, because I want to be hired for my style. I want my work to be the defining motive in their decision to commission me for their wedding day art. sarah 2And I also began seeing my work this way. I am not just taking pictures, I creating art for them that will be enjoyed forever. Art has value and is not cheap. My time and the talent needed to create that art, also has value and is not cheap.
How did you pick a printer for your prints? sarah 5
I use WHCC and chose them because of their quality and accessibility. I prefer, though, to sell digital negatives packages to my clients (at a premium). I don’t really like dealing with print orders, packaging and delivery of prints and although I do make this option available (and it is more cost effective for my clients), I usually recommend that they purchase digital negatives and own their images outright.sarah 9
How often do you order prints for your own home?sarah 10
Uh, never. Last weekend my husband went to the store and bought 12 large frames and hung them around my house in different arrangements. When I got home, there were beautiful—but empty—frames hanging in every room. He told me to fill them. So ask me in a few weeks if I still have empty frames up on the walls…
Where is your favorite place to shoot?sarah 13
Wow, that’s a hard question! I don’t think I have a favorite place; I love shooting most anywhere. If anything, I have places where shooting is difficult; beautiful scenic places (like some recent trips we took to Yosemite and Big Bear Lake) are difficult for me because I never feel like I can recreate the majesty of God’s creation and the sense of actually being there, surrounded by it. sarah 1It’s more a “feeling” that I don’t know how to incorporate into landscape photography. I am used to finding the beauty in the mundane and ugly parts of everyday life—that is where I thrive-- but I go into visual overload trying to visually process and do justice to the large scale beauty all around in a place like Yosemite.sarah 4
How long does it take you to edit a family session? How many pictures do you typically include for them to choose from?sarah 7
I edit first for blogging and then the full session. All together editing a 1 ½ hour session typically takes another 10 hours of work that I do in the evenings after my children are asleep. I promise my clients 30 images because I know I can confidently produce that many, in a 90 minute session. Usually though, there are between 30-60 images that they can choose from.sarah 8
Do you have a favorite verse that you consider to be your life verse?     sarah 5     I have had different verses in my life that might fall into that category, but at the moment, this one seems to be on my mind most frequently: Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. It has so many applications, both personally and professionally and a warning that I am reminded of constantly. Certainly keeps me in check.sarah 9
Tell me about one of your photography inspirations.
The Parsons; hands down are my favorite photog team out there!sarah 8
What advice would you share with someone who is just starting out with photography?sarah 2
The best advise I can give on a practical level is to learn immediately to shoot manually (no auto, program, aperture-priority). I never bothered shooting in any other mode than manual (right from the beginning) and I know that it helped me immensely as a photographer. I learned to see how to meter light and creatively use that light to expose my images to look a certain way. On a less practical level, I think beginning photographers need to shoot what inspires them. sarah 6Don’t look at the trends or the status quo and think you need to follow suit; your work will be better when you are shooting from the heart and capturing the things that inspire and charge your creativity.
sarah 4
Sarah’s family blog: The Animator’s Wife
Sarah’s business blog: Image Bearer’s Photography
If you have any questions you would like to ask, feel free!
I know Sarah would be delighted to answer.

80 comments:

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Oh! Her work is so lovely.

Another great interview, B!!

Formerly known as Frau said...

Great interview! I love her style!

Just Bits and Pieces said...

Her work is so beautiful.....the slide show of baby Paul touched me, it's amazing that she was able to capture that time for the family. As someone who's fell -unplanned-into photography, I'm following her now. Thank you for another wonderful interview!

Brooke said...

i love her beautiful candid style! :)

Norah said...

Love, love love it! I'm so glad you share all of these fabulous photographers with us.

Caseybumpinalong said...

I was so excited when I saw the name on the interview! I love her Animator's Wife blog! Great interview! Thank you!

Tracy P. said...

Wow! Many thanks to Sarah! I love the candid style. I also enjoy hearing what advice the pros have for beginning photographers. Thanks, Becky!

Brian Miller said...

wow.

wow.

love the perspectives...the throught he door shots of the boys or even the bath...i just kept getting more and more amazed...incredible...then to read about the neighbors baby...whew...

Maddy said...

WOw!!! I love her style and her vision!! I even took a peek at her blog and I was blown away by her wedding photography work!! Just beautiful!! With those beautiful photos, she has a long photography career that awaits her :)

Suki said...

Love her style and images. I so would like to meet her one day.

Rachel said...

Too funny! I read the whole thing without putting the pieces together that I'd read her blog many moons ago and didn't realize she was the same person :) and I adore her work... just adore it. Now if I could afford to fly out...!

Mental P Mama said...

Such beautiful work! It's always a treat to read these;) And Baby Paul.....

Farmgirl Paints said...

These interview posts are my favorite. You do a wonderful job Becky. I loved this girl. Seriously I want to be her friend. I am inspired and just so so impressed with her work. She has such a gift. It's NOT easy to capture life as it's happening, at least in my home. When my girls see my camera they stop what they are doing and pose. I have the hardest time getting real photos...candid in the moment shots. I would love to achieve them somehow. One of these days I'm going to invest in a nice camera and make a point to learn the techy stuff. It intimidates me. Now off to check out her sites. Thanks again.

Elaine A. said...

She's good, really, really good.

I love how candid her shots are and that she's capturing those REAL moments.

My Photographic Eye by Irela said...

What amazing work and uniqueness. And I thoroughly (continue to) enjoy your interviews. I have to say I watched the video of baby Paul and was moved to tears. (Thank you for sharing the strength and love of that family...may God Bless them). And thank you Sarah for giving such great insights...I for one is always learning. (Great Job, B!!) :)

Skeller said...

[standing ovation!!!!] I love Sarah's vision, her art, and her heart...

And Becky - I love your interviews. You ask the best questions to coax out the best answers :-).

Kris's Kaptured Moments said...

this post was fabulous. I love Sarah even more than before..her work is so inspiring and filled with passion.Thanks for this interview.

Irene said...

Sarah and Rosina are one of my top 5 people I follow when it comes to photography! Love the LIFE style shooting...and loved that they give credit to HIM in all that they do. :)

Kim said...

Great interview and I loved her work. Thank you for this post - the beauty of these photos made me smile inside.

the Lola Letters said...

Wow, wow, wow! I love EVERYTHING about this photographer's style.

Also, I clicked over to her blog to watch Baby Paul's slide show, and had myself a bawl-fest. Just amazing. And she's right. That IS what photography is about...or at least it should be!

What a beautiful way to start my morning.

Trudy said...

Great pics...very unique style, I love it!

molly said...

love sarah's work. great interview! xoxo

Jabacue said...

My kind of photographer. Love her philosophy and approach to taking/creating pictures. Thanks so much for this.
Jim

April said...

Her photos left me speechless! Wow...I really love her work...like BIG TIME!

Darcy @ m3b said...

This was lovely. Truly.

Thank you both -

xo, Darcy

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Oh, I'm glad you did this interview. I love her style!

photowannabe said...

A wonderful God given talent. I so love Sarah's philosophy. LIFE Photography. Perfectly captured events of life in the Real World. Thanks for the honest interview. Now I'm off to look at her other sites.
Love this...did I say that before??
Love her work!!

Kim said...

What a great interview!! Wow! I can relate to so much of what she talks about—not that I am a professional photographer, but I am learning along the same lines that she did. What a moving story about the little baby.

Catherine said...

Oh, I have always admired her work. Love the candidness of her shots and the love that shines in her work! Fabulous interview!

jennykate77 said...

I love the muted tones she uses and her B&Ws are GORGEOUS!! She is a wonderful photographer...so so talented.

I'll have to go check out her blogs!

Hope you're having a beautiful day!♥

Karie Lee said...

Great work! Great pictures! Great interview! Great verse! Thanks for sharing : ) How wonderful!

Barely Domestic Mama said...

Great photos and great interview. I love her style of photography.

Erin W said...

Beautiful!! I absolutely love her style!! Just amazing!!

Mighty M said...

I love candid shots - the bathtub scene is my favorite! Wonderful interview!!

whitebite said...

Hi there!
Thank you so very much for you comment! My heart jumped! oh my! a comment all the world through from the great states!
Was there something special that captured you about my comment at Kelles?
You seem to have a great blog!
Love Linnea♥

Kare said...

Great interview!

kris... said...

Wow, such stunning photos!

Becca said...

Oh I adore her style! She is so so talented! :-) Love it!

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I adore her candid style! I like her reason for rausing her prices so people hire her for her style. Thanks for sharing!

the lews said...

the art she creates is inspiring... the honesty of the photos is refreshing & beautiful!! THank you for interviewing her & giving us a glimpse of what she sees!

gretchen Johnson said...

I love your style and your pp. I need to take more pics of my own kids. Sara you have inspired me to do so. I thank you for that:)

Again an amazing choice for an interview Becky!

TOLIVER FAMILY said...

beautiful! thank you both for sharing

Casey said...

Wow. Wow. and Wow. Speechless.

Josh, Steph, The Boys and Maddie said...

I loved the interview! I love all the questions. i loved her answers. It makes me feel good also that some of the things I ask myself, other photographers do the same thing. Especially with pricing... etc. It is hard cause on one hand you want the work so you are inexpensive but I love her response on how people should book you for your style and not for your price... i guess I will be tripling my prices tomorrow.. ha ha!

TechnoBabe said...

She has found her very own style and it is great. Very nice selection of her work in this post and a fun interview to read.

Mary Marantz said...

what an awesome set!

Karen O'Donnell said...

Becky, congratulations on another wonderful interview with just the right questions. And Sarah had just the right answers. I need that affirmation over and over that shooting your style and not someone elses is key! By the way her shoot with baby Paul was extraordinarily meaningful to me. I lost my son Eric when he was 2 days old....it was a long time ago and there was no opportunity to have pictures taken or to share those moments of his life with any of my family....what a blessing it would have been to have had that kind of time with him and to have photos to remember him by. Thanks Sarah....you are an inspiration and so was that amazing family.

Freckles & Dimples Photography said...

great interview...i love her style, it translates so well in to her photos. beautiful!

Scarlett said...

Absolutely beautiful work,
Another Great interview Becky!

Beth @ Pages of Our Life said...

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I saw this on Susan Keller's facebook and had a moment...I'm so glad I came by.

This has been a visual feast. Thank you both for giving us a peek into your life. I am inspired by your life-in-the-moment style Sarah.

Becky, you give the best ever interviews.

Lolli said...

Every time I read one of your interviews I am both inspired and overwhelmed with how far I have to go. I love her work. So beautiful!

Krystyn said...

What a wonderful interview!

And, wonderful pictures she included, too!

steph said...

hello!
(i wish i knew your name so I can greet you formally!) thank you for being the first "stranger" ever to post a comment on my blog! Fireworks spontaneously appeared in my imagination and I threw a little invisible celebration..
Your blog posts are wonderful & SO lovely. I am so glad that the wonder of the internet has allowed us to find each other! I'm inspired by the photographs and the stories woven in between. Most of all, I am so glad that you love the Maker of all things beautiful as well!
stay wonderful, "Life with Kaishon!" :)

all my love, stephanie

p.s. I instantly love you because you understand my cheesiness and didn't gag at first impulse! hahah! THANK YOU!

p.p.s.. if you wondered why I called my boy a "chocolatey puffy puff.." .. he's a dark-skinned filipino...and..in the filipino culture, you always get made fun of when you're dark! haha.. all in love though :)

DD said...

Wow, I truly do love her style!!! I think it is so unique and would love for her to do a photo shoot with my girls!

I really enjoyed reading this as well!

Wendy said...

Gosh, how could she actually leave New Jersey??? Another great interview. She has such a genuine style. Very refreshing.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Yet another fabulous interview and great photographer! Thanks to both of you.

Sarah's family is beautiful and I love that her children know their father picked their names.

Happy weekend, jj

Natalie Bray said...

Fantastic interview...lots of wonderful photos and great information!

Jessica said...

Great interview! her photos are stunning too! i love your blog and your photos just as much as her photos!

Dot O said...

I love her.. I LOVE HER!! Her style is amazing. I read one sentence over three times - always shoot in manual - I have yet to make that leap but I feel inspired to do so now.

I visited her blog and saw the slide show of little Paul Perkins and was so moved. She truly captured the spirit of that little soul and those who loved him while he was here...

He & Me + 3 said...

What a great interview. Oh how I wish I lived somewhere that I could shoot in natural light all year long. Beautiful pictures. Love the candid shots too.

Green Monkey said...

umm.... oh so painfully lovely. thank you.

Stacey said...

Absolutely beautiful! Your clients are very lucky to have you photograph them.

Crown of Beauty said...

Becky (not sure if that is your name),
This post brought tears to my eyes.

No words are needed to express what I feel after going through it.

Thank you.

Shalom,
Lidj

She Writes said...

Life's moments beautifully caught. Amazed, as promised :)!

Style Attic said...

Such a gorgeous read/interview! I will have to check her out :) XOXO

Katherine said...

Awesome shots, and beautiful interview.

Thank-you very, very much for sharing!

K xx

Scary Mommy said...

Love these shots!! So true about posed Kodak ones- they really don't capture the moment at all.

jess@notyouraveragemommy.com said...

What a lovely interview! I love her work...so inspiring! :) Thanks for leaving a comment over at my blog!

Green Monkey said...

that was a wonderful interview- the images are powerful. I clicked my way to the Perkins video shown at baby Paul's memorial service.

It moved me, how could it not. And it has inspired a blog post, as I think of my brother who died 7 days after his birth. No pictures, no memories.

I will let you know if and when I post it. I so appreciate your work and thank you for sharing so much beauty.

Carmi said...

I'm sorry she lives in California, because I'd hire her in a heartbeat. What an inspirational peek into an inspirational photographer's, wife's and mom's life! Thank you for sharing her story.

MsBabyPlan said...

You really bring out the wonderful hidden photographers.

erobell said...

She is fabulous and you are fabulous! I really enjoyed this candid and informative interview and I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing the images!!
I am a new fan!

Christa said...

I love her work! I wasn't familiar with it before. Thanks for this.

Angie - The Arthur Clan said...

I am in love with her work...it's so real and lovely. ♥

Jessi said...

Awesome interview with one of my favorite photographers! Thank you for this, it was really fun to read answers to a lot of the same questions I would have asked her :)

Manisha said...

I very much enjoyed this interview. I have been shooting since I was 14 and been shooting manual all that time until I got a DSLR a couple of years ago. I can't seem to go back to manual but I'm going to try a lot harder after reading what Sarah had to say. Also, I like my style (I'm just starting to realize I have a style) but over the years I lost a lot of confidence as my so-called photographer friends with really expensive cameras focused on posed portraits. Again, everything that Sarah said was very appealing to me and seeing her photos was great!

Elizabeth said...

Oh my word. Her stuff is SO great. I'm going to add her to my reader now. And your interview- GREAT.

She is so insanely talented and such an inspiration!

Thanks!

Charisma Moran said...

I love her work! In every picture, you feel like you are right there!

Marie said...

I like the interview and her work it's inspiring.

Beat said...

Beautiful job indeed and the kind of photography I like most! I like the candidness and the light of all the photos: straight and natural. Well done!