This week, we had a beautiful conversation with the talented photographer and writer, Sarah E. Rosenberg.
BYMG: How did you get started with your artistic endeavors?
SR: When I used to travel for work (and this was back before social media and smart phones were even things), I always made sure I had my camera with me. Even waaaaay back in the 20th Century, I already knew that I loved to share my experiences with others by sharing images of the world I had discovered.
With my writing, my process has also always centered on connection with others, but it took me a while to make this a comfortable means of communicating my work. As social media became more mainstream, I was drawn to it as an avenue for connecting with family and friends. What I hadn’t counted on was that social media would also help me find my own voice and that those around me would witness and encourage that journey.
The common thread shared by both my photography and my writing is in how these expressions have engendered community for me and how these forms of communication have helped me resonate with and encourage others to stretch their own spheres of influence and support.
BYMG: Who or what influences your work?
SR: I like being a connector. I believe it’s my highest and best purpose in this life. So I think my greatest influence derives from the knowledge that I am the unique conduit between what I have learned (and therefore what I have to share) and from the belief that my experiences can inform others in some helpful way.
What I absorb as I move through the world with my own presence and perspective transmutes through my images and words, lending itself to what I am able to share more broadly with others.
Oftentimes, I find myself in situations that feel like microcosms of a greater truth, and I have only to use those situations as lenses through which single moments inform larger life situations, first for myself and then, hopefully, for others.
BYMG: Do you have a particular time of day that feels the best for you to create? A specific space? Or do you just get to it when and where the mood strikes?
SR: Most often, a cognitive experience of a particular moment (like a sentient flash, if you will)—be it a visual experience or an emotional one—dictates my creative process.
Admittedly, my work requires specific tools, so I have to have within reach the tools necessary to record my experiences. With photos, my preferred tool is my iPhone, and with writing, it’s my laptop.
My writing, however, takes considerably longer to process than my photography, and I have greater difficulty avoiding distractions when I write than I do when I shoot. I find it much easier to crop out something that distracts from an image than to shut out the noise (internal as well as external) and find quietude when I write.
BYMG: What is your process like? Do you typically finish a piece in one day, or take breaks and come back to it?
SR: I feel truly exhilarated when I travel, so with my images, I find that I am most porous to new visual perspectives when I am removed from my day-to-day.
When things feel new to my eyes, I call upon my images to help me share my excitement. That said, I don’t have to be traveling to experience a revelation that I want to share. I just have to feel curious and receptive enough to catch the awareness of the moment with my camera.
As a writer, I have found almost the opposite to be true. Much of my best writing comes from being self-aware in moments of extreme emotion—frustration, anxiety, displeasure, or even elation—and finding ways to balance those otherwise polarizing feelings to resume equanimity. This exercise allows me to find just that little bit of distance from a negative response that might otherwise get me stuck in a rut or even from a positive response that might otherwise cause me to lose my groundedness.
But, unlike with photography, where I capture an external experience to create community, when I write, I tend to surface internal experiences to create community. Sometimes I can write a piece all in one sitting, and then there are pieces I have started but can’t seem to finish.
My work, I think, is measured in the process and not necessarily in the product (she says, unironically, as she stares at a folder full of unfinished, future masterpieces!).
BYMG: What is the big message you want readers to take away from your work?
SR: Finding the beauty in all things is ours to choose.
There is no process more creative than to imbue a moment or a reflection or a recognition with light and with love by sharing it with others. If I pause to share a captured image or recorded thought, I do so as a vessel for truth and as a means of creating connection with others.
If my images and my words are meaningful to others, then I have projected light and love truthfully and therefore successfully.
BYMG: Favorite creation so far this year?
SR: Oh, geez. Flashes of “Sophie’s Choice” trying to answer this question . . .
Okay, well, as corny as it may sound, I stand by the statement that my favorite creation of all time (and therefore of this year) is my daughter who turned 12 last month.
Although I didn’t create so much as contain her until she was ready to meet the world head-on in her present iteration, I contend that she reflects my best (and most consistent) work to date. Her presence has taught me to see the world with a more gentle and loving countenance, to receive its gifts gratefully and to move through life with grace and dignity.
And to laugh. Always always to laugh.
BYMG: Where can our readers connect with you?
SR: I have lots of connection points out in the universe! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, my blog, and my website are all wonderful ways to reach in and start a conversation. And, as you can well surmise, I always welcome the connection!
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your thoughts and inspiring us to nurture our artistic spirits.
Like so many people who write their own bios to accompany their work, Sarah Rosenberg struggles with referring to herself in the third person. Nonetheless, she enjoys finding the space that surrounds each of life’s struggles to breathe, explore, laugh and grow. Sarah believes in fairies, unicorns, soot sprites, and the occasional opportunity life provides to end a sentence with a preposition without fear of reproach. Find her at www.saraheverosenberg.com. She’s there right now.