I am SO excited to share with you a conversation with the lovely Sarah Seene! Sarah hails from France, where she was born in the eastern part of the country, Belfort, and currently lives in a beautiful little city in the West of France. After studying literature, she got into cinema, working on a variety of projects. For a few years, Sarah made short experimental films where she explored the themes of loneliness and the relation between reality and dreams. At the moment, she is making a documentary about an artist who creates sculptures with toys and dead animals. Without further ado…
1) How did you get started with photography?
My parents used to make pictures and I loved to stare at them for hours. When I was 17, I began to learn argentic black and white photography. I was fascinated with shooting and development. It was fantastic to see faces and bodies appearing on the photographic paper.
2) How did you start shooting with Polaroid cameras?
Two years ago, a French photography shop organized a Polaroid contest and the theme was: “Your magic universe.” This theme inspired me a lot, and I never left my Polaroid camera, creating my “magic universe!” Since I began to work with Polaroid, I use a Polaroid 636 Close-up camera from 1992, which my dear aunt gave me. When I was a child, I already used this device to photograph my grandmother’s animals. And since a few months ago, I have a wonderful SX-70 Sonar camera.
3) What do you like about instant photography?
What interests me about instant photography is its spontaneity, suspense, surprise and, of course, the magic grain of Polaroid, inimitable. When the Polaroid photo comes out, my heart is beating at top speed. For me, instant photography is a synonym for emotion and sensation.
4) How would you describe your style as a photographer?
People say that my instant photography work is mysterious, feminine, and dreamlike. I prepare my Polaroid photos a lot. It is the contrast between the direction and the speed of the development that interests me. During one hour or two, I set up costumes, sets, and make-up which are going to give a sense to the central characters of the Polaroid. I color my Polaroids of childhood pictures, dream and fear, in a suspended time idea. My vision of instant photography is to create a new world with elements of reality.
5) Your photography is very dream-like and tells a story with each photo. Tell us about how you develop your ideas.
I’m thinking about my Polaroid projects every day when I’m walking, when I’m swimming, when I’m talking with people, and even when I’m sleeping! My models, most of the time feminine, are the ones that I love — my Mom and my friends. I like inventing stories, universes, and characters with their faces. What interest me through my fabrication is the feelings, inspired by people, nature, and animals. So I anticipate my pictures, I imagine. But when I shoot, new make-up and set-ups come into my head. At each time, reflexion and spontaneity meet each other.
6) What is most challenging about your photography?
I love to fight time and difficulties, that’s why I sometimes shoot animals and babies. It’s unpredictable and very exciting. During the revelation process I’m very stressed, and when the picture is great, I’m so satisfied that I want to shoot again and again this same type of models. But it’s dangerous because with Polaroid, you haven’t got a lot of chances. I once had to wait an hour to shoot a cat because it moved all the time and it only stopped during 2 seconds. It was a moment not to miss. Self-portraits are dangerous, too, with another difficulty: the focus on myself and the frame are approximated, so it’s a real challenge.
7) If you could have a superpower, what would it be ?
I would like to create a unicorn, a dinosaur, and a giant to shoot them, of course!
As an avid Polaroid shooter myself, I have so enjoyed this conversation with Sarah! I hope you have, too. I find her work incredibly inspiring, imaginative, and magical. You can seee more of Sarah’s work on her Tumblr and Flickr, and you can check out her Facebook page.
Meghan of Life Refocused