Editor’s note: Here writes the bride…
“She is beyond creative and has a natural eye for artistic imagery.”
“She is everything you want your wedding photographer to be – approachable, funny, kind…and a spectacular photographer.”
“She has a beautiful vision and portrays it wonderfully in her work.”
Above is a small sampling of client praise for Wedding, Portrait & Fine Art Photographer Sarah Dawson. Her work has been featured in print and online publications such as the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Under the Gum Tree, The Knot and Wedding Wire.
On any given day, you can find Sarah in one of the cities she calls home: San Francisco or Paris. You can view her beautiful gallery of wedding, portrait and travel images on her web site and Facebook page. You can see up-to-the-minute posts on her Instagram (and follow her daily “petite reveries” with hashtags: #petitereveries #wayfarerreveries). And today, you can read about her inspiration, approach to business and workflow here. Sarah was kind enough to take a moment from a full season of projects to share her perspective and experience.
Wedding and Portrait photography is such a huge business. How did you get inspired to start your business?
I studied film in college but didn’t consider it a viable career and so followed my footsteps elsewhere. Finally, I left a career in politics six years ago to pursue this “crazy idea” that I could do what I love for a living instead. Early on in that journey I met and was mentored by Scott Robert Lim. He invited me to come to Paris and learn from him at one of his workshops. It was after that experience abroad, the intensive teaching I received with him and the motivation to follow through that I launched myself full time into my desire to create. I could not have imagined that by pursuing my passion it would allow me to also participate and celebrate people’s lives in such a raw way. Whether it is a wedding, a portrait session or capturing the texture of light hitting the rainy cobblestone streets at night, my little world is richer from these experiences alone. It’s been an incredible adventure and I’m so thankful I followed it through.
How do you keep your approach to such meaningful imagery fresh and uniquely imagined?
I think the interaction I have with my clients and subjects is the most important part of the creative process. My relationship with them allows naturally genuine moments, which provide me the opportunity to create an inspired end result. Every shoot is different whether it be location, subjects and or challenges. I try to embrace the beauty of whatever that may be and use it to our advantage.
Are “Engagement Sessions” getting as popular as the wedding day?
Engagement photography is still a new concept. I find that most of my clients opt for one. I think one of the draws for this is the benefit of my clients and myself getting to know each other in a working manner in a more casual, relaxed atmosphere prior to the wedding day. I love this time with my clients so we can explore places that mean something to their relationship; like where they met or got engaged or may be a part of their story like a place they traveled to together.
What gear do you use – hardware and accessories?
I’m currently a Canon shooter. My favorite pieces are my 5d mkiii, 16-35mm 2.8, 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2, 45mm t-se, 85mm 1.8, and 70-200mm 2.8.
What is your typical workflow for a wedding shoot?
I love lots of time throughout the day. The more time I have to slow things down and be able to engage in those authentic moments the better. Being as weddings are though, the luxury of time isn’t always in our favor. My day always begins with the coiffing and candids of the bride and her girls, the guys being guys and then followed by detail shots of all the elements they have put thought into over the previous preparatory months. My goal throughout the entirety of a day is to utilize the light, movement and emotion that it lends. This is what takes us through the photojournalistic aspects of the ceremony and reception. The final element of the day is during the portrait time with the bridal party and family members. Depending on the layout of the schedule and flow of the day we try and make the most of the time of day for light and or locations we are at to capture these important and classic images.
Have you tried out our new Pro Roller x-Series AW? Thoughts?
I have the x100 AW – it has been my lifesaver. It allows me to travel with my favorite gear internationally as well as get around my day-to-day work at home. I prefer a roller as my small build can only take so much weight from gear. I have no fear of having to “check my bag” because of size or space when flying abroad.
Your travel imagery – so nicely titled “Wayfarer Reveries” – feels so warm and editorial. What informs your travel photography?
It is something that I started doing for myself. Being a photographer takes me to a lot of beautiful places. The more I traveled the more the contrast of one place compared to the last would strike me. Making them at times, seem almost unreal. I would snap these images for myself to remember what I saw and felt in those moments. It wasn’t until recently that I started to share them. It seemed like an appropriate way to capture my journey.
What personal or commercial projects are you looking forward to?
I have a full wedding season ahead of me for 2014 – as well as a handful of international destinations that will be both for personal and commissioned works. My second home is Paris and I’m excited to be able to continue my photo series that I have been working on there. My new destinations for this year will include Italy, Greece and Tunisia, as well as a few others I’m sure I’m not even aware of yet. I hope to further cultivate the work I’ve started and continue to push myself out of my comfort zone with new challenges and techniques.