Sarah Kohlbeck is originally from St. Paul MN. She currently spends her time in Savannah, GA studying Graphic Design and Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and wherever her latest adventure takes her (currently: Hong Kong). Sarah does mostly portraiture and takes inspiration from the stories people’s faces tell and the way that visually stimulates us.
How would you define beauty?
I think beauty is defined relative to the viewer, so for me personally I would say it’s how comfortable someone is with themselves. It’s the way they walk and the way they talk, the way they see themselves and the way they see others.
How did the shoot with Ellis go?
This shoot was one of my favourites to date. Ellis is one of those souls that is so natural and so comfortable in her own skin, it makes my job pretty easy. Before the shoot I think my direction with it was a little bit lost, I was forcing a creative vision that I just wasn’t getting. I rarely plan much for shoots, I think it causes them to lose their authenticity.
What do you love about photography?
I love that it is something that nearly everyone on the planet uses, it’s really unique in that way. Most photographers hate that there is a camera on every iPhone and that people are running around thinking they’re professionals, but I think it is absolutely fantastic. Photography is an art form that everyone attempts but only few will progress.
Can we photograph the female body differently in a more powerful way?
This is a question I find hard to answer. I truly believe that any picture of the female body is a powerful image, however I do think that we need to be careful. Taking a picture of a woman sitting on a couch in her lace underwear with rolls in her stomach can be empowering, but we can not assume that just because we are taking this image it is speaking to people. Photography has been and always will be about the story behind an image, so we need to focus on that first and foremost and whatever image comes from that WILL be a powerful one.
What inspires you?
Forgotten places, colours, windows, people I know, people I don’t know, blank stares.
What do you like to portray through your art?
An emotion that a person can feel through something they weren’t even present for. The human body tells us everything a person is feeling, we just need to look at it in the right way and that is what I am trying to do.
Who or what do you channel when taking photographs?
I honestly think I am my purest form when I am taking pictures of people, so honestly I channel myself. Beyond that, some of my greatest inspirations are Alec Soth and Beth Garrabrant. The emotions I feel when looking at their work are something I could only dream of producing.
Film or digital?
Happy medium? When I fell in love with film was when I truly knew what a special connection I had to photography, so much so that I got “35mm” tattooed on my wrist. Film is naturally magical, digital has to be worked in the right ways. I use mostly digital for shoots and film for capturing everyday life. My most prized possession will always be my Yashica t4 with a good old roll of portra.
What makes you happy?
I think some of the happiest moments in my life are seeing the way people react to my photos. While I’ve received plenty of harsh critiques, hearing compliments and knowing that people understand my work will always be what makes me happiest.
What’s next for you?
My next big adventure is a book. I’ve known it for sometime now and I’ve just been waiting for the right moment. I’m doing the whole road trip across America thing and hoping to take the series I create from the trip and make it into a book. The title will be “Texas.” Other than that, I’m hoping to collaborate more and incorporate more graphic design elements into my work. Basically, this summer is going to be magical.