Interview #57: Sarah Hermans
CUS: How did you get into photography?
Sarah Hermans: I was given a digital camera when I was 14 to take photos mainly on holidays and with friends. At 18, I took photo classes because it had grown on me, I have always wanted to create things and this seemed to be the right medium. After these classes I studied photography at Sint-Lukas Brussels for 3 years.
CUS: Tell us a little about where you live. Does your city/country/physical location have an affect on your photography?
SH: I live in Brussels now, but grew up in Zutendaal, a village in a more natural environment in the east of Belgium. It's good to be able to travel between the two. Although not intentionally, I'm often on a search for metaphors in cities. Rural areas make it easier for me to take photographs that don't have to be read in an often too narrow way.
CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
SH: Coffee, oatmeal and a kiwi, orange juice.
CUS: Did you study, or are you studying, photography? If not, how did you learn?
SH: I earned my bachelor degree in photography at Sint-Lukas Brussels last year.
CUS: What makes a good image?
SH: An image that doesn't bore after figuring out what it wants to tell. If you go, 'oh yes, i get it' and that's all the photograph can give you, I don't think it's a very good one.
CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?
SH: Goals, a place that feels safe, beauty, people, a creative output.
CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true? What are your thoughts on digital vs. film photography?
SH: I don't see why not. If taking photos is what you like, do it. And I don't see film as the opponent of digital, it's what you prefer working with. I prefer film, because it pushes me to be in the moment when I'm shooting.
CUS: What are your thoughts on photography and the Internet? (For example, mass amounts of images being uploaded every day via sites such as Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram...) How do you differentiate "art" photography and "non-art" photography?
SH: It's a great way to showcase work and get an audience and it's as great to get to know other photographers' work. I feel thankful for the internet. The photographers whose work I follow online have an amount of passion for what they're doing shining through their work, and whose personalities seem to resonate in the work. This is very important to me.
In general, it makes me happy to see so many people using these social networks to share what they've photographed or even created. Even though most of it can't be qualified as art-photography whatsoever, its a way of sharing something personal with the world and a stimulator to create. This is good for people.
CUS: Do you think that the Internet (as opposed to a gallery or any other art institution) is a legitimate place to showcase photographic work or do photographs have to be seen in "the flesh" to be fully appreciated and experienced?
SH: It depends on the body of work, but where I can look at a photograph on the internet and like it, a print can move me more because it's so physical. You just spend more time with a photograph if you can't click it away, so it can move you more deeply. A great photograph is a great photograph though because of what it depicts, the experience is just different.
CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?
SH: I've been thinking about this for a few days. I can't pin down photographers that made me see things differently or take certain paths, but American landscape photographers have inspired me for sure. Bart lately introduced me to more movies shot by Robby Muller and I must admit that when shooting in the past couple of weeks he came to mind quite a few times. I've always felt great admiration towards Robert Adams but in general I admire and want to be influenced by people who make things they honestly feel passionate about.
CUS: Tell us a little about the people and places in your photographs.
SH: I'm driven by curiosity, so most photos are taken in places that are new to me. If a photograph didn't work out, I might go back, but rarely I'll photograph the same thing. That moment of fascination with what I encounter is very important. I'm also not someone who walks up to people and asks them to have their picture taken. If I photograph strangers, they will still feel like strangers in the photograph itself. The few people I portrayed are people who happen to be with at that time.
CUS: What are your plans for the spring?
SH: Take better photographs and do something with them :-) Furthur Labelz is organizing a show in Amsterdam which I'm part of and there's another small project I'm working on.
CUS: What tips would you give to get out of a creative slump?
SH: Take your camera and push yourself to finish the roll of film in a short amount of time. Don't spend your days looking at other portfolios.
CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?
SH: Be honest with yourself and don't try to please
CUS: What do you hope to achieve with your photography? Do you foresee photography as a career in your future?
SH: Well... I will probably take photographs for the rest of my life.
CUS: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
SH: For now it's shooting and thinking about where it might grow
CUS: Our last interviewee, Eudes de Santana, asks: What do you see as the most exciting thing about your subject?
SH: It's in the encounter that the subject comes about. I think that's exciting.
CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask the next interviewee?
SH: What work by another artist has moved you most and why?