Please welcome Portrait and Fine Art photographer Sarah Bowman to James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Sarah for sharing this time with us.
Sarah Bowman: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some of my experience with you! I look forward to answering some questions that will give myself some perspective on my own work.
JRP: Where do you call home Sarah? Has this environment been crucial to your creative process?
Sarah Bowman: My home consists of my three feline children and hubby on Vancouver Island in Canada. It’s a very rainy island which can be frustrating but at the same time has some amazing locations! I don’t have to travel far to find an inspiring spot. Because of this, I am able to easily put together shoots.
JRP: How did you get started in photography? Do you have any formal training or assisting in your background?
Sarah Bowman: Well, my interest in photography started in high school after being shown how to develop film in a dark room. It wasn’t really until a few years later that I began to take it seriously. Over time I became board of doing simple portraits and started to try more creative endeavors.
In my earlier years, I worked at a photography equipment and print store. I was surrounded by seasoned photographers and was able to shadow them on shoots where I learned a lot from them.
I don’t really have any official education. I’m mostly self-taught, but I’ve spent many hours watching educational videos and following inspiring photographers.
JRP: Name two photographers that have inspired and influenced your work.
Sarah Bowman: The photographers that come to mind right away are Brooke Shaden and Emily Soto. I Got the idea to start creating behind-the-scenes videos after discovering Emily Soto. She made me realize that I can add another element to my shoots that I could share with others.
Brooke Shaden is a surreal fine-art photographer. She has shown me how to create ethereal portraits using Photoshop and everyday items.
JRP: Personal projects … how do they figure in the development of your vision and technique?
Sarah Bowman: Well, my personal projects have caused my style to be more ethereal and surreal over time. When I decided to take things to another level and experiment with unusual concepts, I found that it became easier to express in my own style. It took me a long time to develop my own method which can be recognized now.
JRP: Is there a project that you desire to begin or finish this year?.
Sarah Bowman: There are just so many ideas, and my issue is figuring out how to organize them. I find that I have a difficult time planning a shoot. It just kind of comes together.
Surprisingly, there isn’t always a lot of preparation. Often, my favorite shoots just fall into place somehow. My main goal isn’t necessarily the idea or theme of the shoot but meeting other creatives and experiencing the creative process with them.
JRP: Do you prefer working on location or in studio? Do you prefer artificial or available light? What are your most often used light modifiers?
Sarah Bowman: I am almost a 100% natural-light photographer. I love shooting but, at the same time, am also a kind of lazy photographer. If I think that I can change or fix something in Photoshop later, I will. I avoid cold weather, and I admire models who are willing to suffer for the sake of my art.
Since I often shoot without an assistant, I don’t use a lot of equipment. On occasion, I will use a reflector or defuser.
JRP: Do you have assistants that work with you and if so what roles do they play?
Sarah Bowman: I have had a few people contact me, asking if they could shadow me or help me on a shoot. Usually, I prefer to shoot alone or have my husband tag along and assist. He also helps me sift through the captures since he has a creative eye.
JRP: What would I find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
Sarah Bowman: Normally, I try to carry as little as possible. Since I’m usually shooting alone, and don’t like lugging around equipment. I keep my camera bag light. I will have my Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 70 – 200 mm 2.8, and a prime lens. Other than a few memory cards and a spare battery, that’s pretty much it!
JRP: Please describe your digital work flow and the software you use.
Sarah Bowman: When I import my photos, I like to use Lightroom. I find that I can easily organize and narrow down my images and rename the files. I then open the image up in Photoshop and make the main adjustments and enhancements there. The only other program that I use is Final Cut for my behind-the-scenes and Photoshop videos.
JRP: What is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?
Sarah Bowman: I would say that it would have to depend on the type of photo shoot that it is. If I’m capturing simpler portraits then the most critical moment would be when the model becomes comfortable and starts to display real emotion. If I am creating a composite then that moment would have to be while I’m photo-shopping it into something creative.
JRP: If not photography what would Sarah Bowman be doing with her time?
Sarah Bowman: I love video games, cats, and candy. If I’m not editing, out on a shoot, or at my day job, then I am likely playing a video game, eating some candy, or cuddling with my cats.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Sarah Bowman: I would have to say that the best advice was not given to me by a photographer but rather my husband. When I struggle and feel like giving up, he encourages me and tells me not to be so hard on myself. All artists struggle, at times, with a temporary lack of motivation or inspiration. This is why I surround myself with inspiring and motivating people and art.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Sarah Bowman: I advise other photographers who are interested in developing their own style or improving to surround themselves with inspiring artists. You don’t need to limit yourselves to just photographers.
Another thing that I found crucial in growing as a photographer is to ask for and accept critique. Become a part of photography groups where you can share your work and give your advice to others’. Don’t take critique personally and accept that there is always room to grow. There’s always something you can improve on. If you want to improve as a photographer then you always need to look where you can improve.
In the midst of this, try to pay attention to techniques or themes in photography that you have a preference for, and try to develop your own style. Don’t copy other people’s work but rather take inspiration from it.
JRP: Thank you Sarah for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure and I wish you continued success.
Sarah Bowman: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you so much! I appreciate the interesting questions. I hope that others are able to take something from this and I’m able to inspire another person with my experiences!
JRP: To view more of Sarah Bowman’s photography please follow these links:
facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sarahbowmanphotographs
Website – http://www.sarahbowmanphotography.com/
Instagram – http://instagram.com/sarahbowmanphotography
500px – http://500px.com/SarahBowman
Twitter – https://twitter.com/seraphicvisions
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-7p-HDUk4T5kptQ16ARQcw
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/sarahbowmanphotography