Q&A with Sara Vanderschaaf
Where are you from?: I was born in Portland but grew up in the tiny farming town of Sublimity, Oregon. My hometown means everything to me.
What was your passion/dream growing up?: I've always had passions for lots of different things. When I was young, I wanted to be a country music singer; in high school, I wanted to own a coffee shop/music venue. Photography didn't become a passion until I got my hands on a Polaroid camera.
Did you have a camera in your hands from the beginning?: I've always enjoyed taking photos but I definitely wasn't one of those kids walking around with a camera around my neck. When we took family vacations though, my sister and I would always get our own disposable camera and I would burn through the 24 exposures on the first day of the trip.
What hooked you to photography? What was that moment where it all "clicked"?: It literally "clicked" for me when I bought my first Polaroid camera. I'm obsessed with photography in the sense that it's a tangible moment that you can hold in your hands. A Polaroid photo, for me, is the best representation of that concept. I never knew I could be an artist until I saw what I could create with an instant camera and 10 exposures.
Are you self taught? Schooling?: I'm completely self taught but I am constantly learning from anything or anyone that I can. If you stop learning new techniques and stop practicing old ones, you become irrelevant.
What is Sara Faith Photography all about? Where did the name come from?: Sara Faith Photography is really just about me telling stories visually from my point of view. I could be photographing 500 people and there's still a little bit of me in that photograph too. Everyone assumes the name is my first and middle name, but it's not. It's a combination of my first name and the name given to me during the nine days I waited to be adopted after I was born. My birth mother hadn't given me a name so they called me "baby Faith".
What kinds of photography do you do professionally? Recreationally?: I get this question a lot and the short answer is everything. If I haven't photographed a specific type of subject, I'll learn. If I get a special request, I adjust. I don't like to put myself into a box and say "I'm a wedding photographer" or "I photograph families" because then there's no challenge. I want to experience and photograph as much as I possibly can. Recreationally, I do a lot more of the artsy/fashion stuff, but I love it all!
As a photographer, how do you see the world differently?: I mainly see people differently. I'll notice nuances in someone's features a lot more quickly than I did before. The characteristics that make someone unique become more pronounced.
What's something new that you've been trying recently (photography-related)?: Recently I've been playing around a lot with color theory and how changing hues or adjusting colors can manipulate the interpretation of a photograph.
Your husband Chris is a filmmaker. How did you guys meet and how much do you collaborate?: Chris and I met at a summer camp while I was in college. He had been filming summer camps for years and I tagged along with my church that year as part of a drama team. He taught me tons about the technical side of photography and so much about his world of filmmaking. We collaborate on projects almost every week and when we're not collaborating, were assisting each other on our separate jobs.
How did you two end up in Medford?: I've loved Medford my whole life. My dad grew up here and my grandparents lived across from Wilson Elementary my entire childhood. When I graduated high school, the only place I applied to college was SOU because this was the only place I wanted to be. We moved to Boise when we got married and also lived in Redding, CA for a few years but I always knew I'd make it back to the Rogue Valley.
What do you love most about the Rogue Valley?: There are so many things I love about the Rogue Valley but I think my favorite is just the great outdoors. We have almost every opportunity for outdoor activities you can imagine and every single season is stunning in it's own way. I love seeing the mountains no matter where I'm standing. Right around the beginning of November when the leaves in the valley are fire red and orange and the mountains are blanketed in snow is perfection in my book. It doesn't get more beautiful than that.
Ok, let's chat about the RepMeddy Editorial Shoot you did. What inspired the project?: I was looking for a challenge and for a project I could really personally enjoy while still working with a client. I'm so into supporting local talent and I love that RepMeddy is Medford proud through and through. I think RepMeddy's vision meshes well with my obsession with Southern Oregon.
What was your vision for the shoot? What's the theme?: My vision for this shoot was "a day in the life of a group of friends who live in Medford". I wanted to showcase the vibe of the town and the culture of the twenty-somethings who love living here. Overall the theme was to have a good time. I usually find that the candid moments between posed shots produce the best photos, so I wanted to do an entire shoot based around those little moments.
How does your creativity work in a project like this? Is it all planned, or do you improvise along the way?: My creativity runs everything in these types of situations. I plan what absolutely needs to be planned but I like to rely on input from clients and models to bring everything together.
How was working with the models in this shoot?: I was so lucky to have so many amazing models on this shoot. It's not hard to find people to pose for a picture but it's extremely difficult to find someone who inspires you to keep clicking the shutter. Having five amazing models to work with was a dream.
How does this shoot capture the essence of RepMeddy?: I spent a lot if time pouring over RepMeddy's Instagram before ever contacting them about collaborating. I loved the carefree vibe of the clothes mixed with the allegiance to the Rogue Valley that was portrayed in those photos. I think this shoot captures those elements and makes them cohesive and relatable to a whole new audience.
What does RepMeddy mean to you?: RepMeddy to me is about having pride in where you live or where you grew up or where you learned to be you. It's about physically representing something that had an impact on making you who you are today.
Ok this is the situation: Saturday afternoon, you don't have any sort of camera, what are you doing?: Ideally, I'd be camping. More realistically, I'm sunbathing on my trampoline with my two wiener dogs.
The perfect breakfast, go: Applewood smoked bacon omelette from Morning Glory!!!
Sky diving or reading a book?: Even thinking about sky diving gives me anxiety. I'm gonna go read a self help book about overcoming anxiety now...
Cliche question time. What's your spirit animal and why?: My spirit animal is 100% my dog Chewy. We're both feisty red heads that like sleeping in and getting our way.
For aspiring photographers, what's your biggest piece of advice?: Do you and put in the effort to make a name for yourself. In an age where everyone thinks they'll be Insta-famous, you have to work twice as hard to be heard over the sea of mediocrity waiting for a come up.
What's the dream? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: The dream is to keep doing what I love. It's a blessing to be fulfilled by what you do and also be able to make a living doing it. I'd love to own some property in Jacksonville...mainly for more dogs.
If someone wants awesome Sara Faith photos at their wedding, real estate business, or fashion company, what's the best way to get a hold of you?: The absolute best way to get in touch with me is to text me or email me. If I'm with a client, I like to be present so I'm not answering my phone. But I have a lot of little moments in my day to send a quick message. (503) 559-9297 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter Handle: @sarafaithphotog
Facebook: Sara Faith Photography
Thanks for chatting with us Sara!: Thank you! This was the best Q&A I've done since MySpace was cool! ;)