Dust Empires: How did you get into photography?
Sarah Christen Murray: I’ve been playing with cameras ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, I had a point & shoot film camera, then graduated to a classy film camera. I started taking photos of landscapes and my pets, and then eventually worked along to people. I got my first legitimate digital camera when I was a senior in high school.
I sort of always knew that I’d end up there. I was taking as many art classes as I could when I was in grade school, so I can’t pinpoint a moment when I knew I was going to go. In my mind, there was no other option.
Do you remember your first time putting together a shoot? Tell us about it.
I think the first legitimate shoot where I coordinated with people was a portrait project I did in my first year of community college. I took black and white film portraits of some of my friends holding objects that had special meaning to them. I used some fabric from a craft store as a backdrop and this cheap light set I found on Craigslist. They turned out pretty nice actually. After that, I knew I wanted to keep photographing people.
You’ve shown in London, what as that like? (I totally stalked your resume)
Haha, that was fun. Some of my classmates from School of Visual Arts visited London College of Fashion as part of our program. While we were there, my classmates and the LCF students all crammed together in the studios on campus and had a wild group shoot/impromptu gallery show. I liked it.
Is there a magazine you dream of shooting for or a gallery you dream of showing in?
Getting something in Purple magazine would be pretty dope. I’m horrible and can’t think of a specific gallery at the moment, but as long as the community that comes with the gallery is chill, I’m sure I’d be happy. The LA Hospital was such an awesome show. I think I’d like to be a part of something like that some day.
Describe your aesthetic in five words.
I hate this game. Hmm… I guess empowering, colourful, contrast-y, fun, clean.
Who are your major inspirations?
Painters, fine artists, peers, designers, fashion bloggers- I get inspiration from a lot of places. To name a couple photographers; Gregory Crewdson for his dedication to his craft, Tim Walker for just being out of this world, Steven Klein because he’s a weirdo, and Nick Knight for being so technologically inventive.
How would you say your work differs between your commercial shoots and your creative content? Which do you prefer doing?
Well, commercial shoots of course have more constraints depending on the client, but I try to be myself as much as possible every time I’m behind the camera. My favourite shoots are often the ones that are with a small team; me and a model, and maybe a stylist. I feel that there is a lot more flexibility when my team is small, and every person feels comfortable and the creativity flows better.
What are your favourite things to shoot?
People. Not necessarily “models”. I love different personalities, ages, body types, etc.
Do you prefer shooting on sets or street style aesthetics?
When I lived in NYC I shot a lot more on set, but in LA with the good weather and all, I always find myself in the streets. I think there are pros and cons to both.
What do you consider good fashion photography?
Anything that makes me stop and look/think for more than 5 seconds, really. This is a lot more rare than you’d think.
What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
Banana split. I’m actually really sad that it’s so hard to find a place that makes a GOOD one, with hand-dipped ice cream and all the frills. Not like DQ or any of those places that use soft serve. Ew.
What, am I going to die?
Sarah Christen Murray is an LA-based freelance photographer specializing in fashion. She has her Masters from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Sarah currently creates content for Jeffrey Campbell Shoes. This is her website. Check out here instagram here.