Sarah Saratonina is a still life and food photographer from Cotia, Brazil. Often focusing on fun, colorful compositions, which incorporate floral and food elements, Sarah’s photos have been featured a number of times in Editors’ Choice and in Digital Photo Magazine.
Q: Sarah, please tell us a bit about your journey as a photographer, what inspired you to first pick up a camera?
A: Fifteen years ago, I was studying to be an accounting professor. Then, when my daughter was born, my mind changed completely, and I realized I love how the sunlight “walks” through the windows and makes the room look so different during the day. So, with the support of my husband, I left my career as an accountant and decided to become a photographer—and here we are!
Q: Your portfolio mainly focuses on still life photos, what attracted you to this style of photography?
A: I am crazy about the colors and shapes of all the small things around me. Discovering something new to work with and shoot is the best part of my day! I’ve been thinking about this a lot these days—I’ve always worked from home, so I feel like I’ve been in quarantine since 2012. Everything at home can be part of my work.
Q: Can you detail your creative process for planning and executing a great still life shoot?
A: As a color driven person, I am always looking for new colors for the backgrounds of my photos. And, as a curious food lover, I try to find new kinds of vegetables and fruits in the grocery store. I look for fruits and vegetables with colors that will complement or contrast against my backgrounds. Most of my photos are taken with a single flash mounted in the camera, so I have to manage to have fully charged batteries, but overall it is very, very simple.
Q: Your photos stand out for your use of bright and vibrant colors, how do you decide which colors to work with within your photos?
A: The colors depend on what I am able to find at the grocery store—I kid, I actually make preliminary sketches of the photos I plan on shooting, though most of the time I don’t end up using them. I try and choose colors that are fun and poppy.
Q: Many photographers find inspiration from classical art; are there any still life paintings you’ve personally felt inspired by?
A: I’m actually not a very big fan of the old fashioned still life paintings. I feel that they are often too dark and sad, though I do I love the Van Gogh still life paintings. I guess if I was a painter, like Van Gogh, I probably could let the onions grow old and make still life paintings of sprouted onions and other foods too.
Q: What are some of the challenges of capturing great still life photos?
A: I find it can be challenging to always be creative and bring creativity to my shoots, but I always try to keep my mind and eyes wide open! I always try and push myself to step outside my comfort zone, but that can be difficult at times. But, as Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Q: You often work with a macro lens for your photography, what advantage do you feel the macro lens brings to your work?
A: The macro lens is great because it allows me to get in much closer to an object or subject. Personally, I prefer to use single lenses because they are sharper and more luminous than most of the zoom lenses. Working with a macro lens also allows me to work even in a very small, tight room.
Q: Are there other genres of photography outside of still life that you’re interested in shooting?
A: I am a big fan of creative portraits. Portraits can be fun, and give you the opportunity to use objects or props to reveal some aspects of the subject’s personality. For example, in this portrait of my daughter (below), I use berries falling down like rain to reference her love of strawberries.
Q: What are some thoughts or feelings that you would like to think your work inspires in others?
A: I frequently receive messages from other photographers who have created photos inspired by my work, and I really appreciate it. I hope that my work inspires others to experiment and get creative with colors and food. The interaction and sense of community amongst photographers on 500px is very special to me.
Q: If you were given the opportunity to collaborate on a photo series with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A: I would have loved to work with the Belgian painter Rene Magritte, I think his paintings are amazing! I look at his works and feel that he was so creative. I also like that he also used food so much in his art. I wish I could have had the opportunity to work with him, and try my hand at some surrealist-style art with him.