Editor’s note: Saraphina is a great friend from Hallmark (Photography school) and she very readily agreed to take part in this project of mine. It wasn’t thing to do over the internet and with work stresses and all, but we worked it out, and now I’ll let her do the talking. But first, a note from the lady herself:
Saraphina has a favourite colour. It’s green. Her responses show up in her favourite colour.
And so it shall be!
My Legal name is Sarah Churchill but I have been going by Saraphina since I was 15. I work two “real” jobs both part-time and the hours fluctuate throughout the year. The first is as postproduction assistant for a portrait photographer. I do all the postproduction for her studio and outdoor sessions. The second job is for a print press company, I do graphic design and help with the product production where needed. During the down times in the year is when I do personal projects and the occasional freelance gig.
How did we meet?
The short answer, Hallmark. Right at the beginning you were in my section. From day one at photo school there has always been a Marcus. I don’t exactly remember “meeting” you.
What are your creative pursuits, and how did you get into it?
I have ALWAYS been into art of all kinds, since early childhood. Fortunately my parents were encouraging rather than hindering when it came to my artistic side.
This allowed me to try out all that art has to offer til I found a spot where I had talent and found happiness and earning potential.There have been a lot of trial and error situations over the years. I have dabbled in preforming arts as well as fine arts.
I love photography of course but I have also really fallen in love with graphic design in that last few years. I focus most of my energy in photography and graphic design as these are my carer choices but I can find joy with a paintbrush too. I love acting and singing and dancing but I am not very good at it so those opportunities don’t present themselves very often.
What do people think about your choice to go after your creative pursuits?
Well, most people see it as a good fit for me. I love my work, both personally and professionally. I place a higher value on being happy above most other things. The only person who was hesitant to be supportive was my grandmother. She wanted me to peruse a more traditional job with a steady schedule and steady pay. While there is merit in that I hate that sort of life and I believe at this point I have been successful enough to win her over.
What is it about your creative pursuit that speaks to you?
Making people happy with something I made, that what keeps me going. I designed a sign recently for a home construction company. I met with the owner of the company, went over his needs and came up with a proof. He loved it and he used it as a way to brand his company. I now see that sign every day on my commute.
I like that something I created is out in the world being seen. Its not hanging in a gallery, my name is not listed as its creator, but I know its my work and I know it is well received. I could never build a house, but homes need building. He could not figure out how to make an “eye catching” sign but he needed one. That is what makes the world go ‘round.
Have you ever had that “ah ha” moment that made you decide that this was something you wanted to do/pursue seriously?
Oh yes. I used go on road trips with my camera. These were the good old days of film. I would randomly drive to a different and new location and shoot a full roll of film before I left. Then send the film in to be developed, wait a few days and go collect my pictures. Then I would pick out my favourites and make my friends look at them. One night I said “I wish I could get paid to travel and take pictures instead of going to work” that’s when a friend said “So you want to be a photographer?” That got the ball rolling.
What inspires you, and where does that inspiration lead you?
Being out in nature seems to be my muse as of late. I will see something and get lost in its beauty. I then photograph it every way I can think to. Sometimes the image itself is enough but sometimes I will not like the pictures but use them as inspiration in painting or in design.
When you’re doing personal projects, how do you decide what to take on?
This question amuses me. It has never occurred to me that when I am doing a personal project I have decided to take anything on. It’s more like a compulsion. It takes over. Existentially we could say the project chooses me. It is what I am doing in my spare time until I am done. It is what I am thinking about when I am not actively working on it. It keeps me feeling alive.
If you plan projects, what is it like in your head when you first start a new project? If not, what goes through your head when you start working?
I rarely plan personal projects. Sometimes I have rough outline or vague expectation but typically my end result is nowhere near where I started. As for what goes through my head… I cant seem to find the words. It’s more like finding a second wind late in the game. A rush. A punch of adrenaline.
I think it’s always a struggle to keep our passions in front of us while we’re dealing with the demands of everyday life. How do you make time for your own work?
Sunday. I refuse to work on Sunday. I am not religious. I just know I need a day to reboot myself or I loose myself, and that is no good. I spend time outside every Sunday. I create something, every Sunday. Even if it is one cell phone image of my deck garden in the rain at least it is something just for me. Every Sunday. I look forward to and fondly recall Sundays whenever I am overwhelmed with the day to day.
What was it like the very first time you were paid for doing something creative?
A whirlwind of emotion. It was awesome to be paid, there is a certain satisfaction in that level of recognition. It’s a high. There was also fear it would never happen again. And it’s a bit sad when you realize how import the money piece really is to being able to continue creating.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learnt during your pursuit?
When you are hired to create for someone else, they don’t always like your vision. I still find this really hard not to take personally. Its not me they don’t like, it’s the current draft of the piece. I may see my work as an extension of myself but the client doesn’t care. When you are hired, they are the boss which can be upsetting.
How are you hoping to improve on it?
It gets a little easier each time. I hope over time I can toughen up. I also try to tell myself the old adage “the customer is always right” and that I can always do it my way on Sunday.
Who’s been the biggest influence on you? And how has he/she influenced your work?
Frida Kalo. Her quotes are thought provoking. Her story is tortured, sad and beautiful. Her work is new every time I look at it. She had a hard life, which you see she clearly in her work, and yet she found peace in creating no mater what. Her self-portrait in the bathtub with everything on her mind reflected in the water has always made me look at self-portraits differently. Its not a picture of yourself it a representation of the sum of your parts. I tend to borrow that idea when I do a self portrait.
What would be your ideal project? No budgets, personnel restrictions (ie living or dead), or time constraints (ie you can work with anyone from any time period), anything you wish is available to you, and you have perfect technique to pull off anything you wish.
I didn’t even need to think about my answer to this question. There is a cliff in northern California. I cant recall the name of the town. With a nice wide-angle lens you can get a dirt road winding along the cliff, tall grass and redwood trees, the perfectly blue pacific ocean and off in the distance the golden gate bridge.
I would want to be there, taking a tilt-shift image every 8 seconds for 12 hours as the daylight changes the landscape and as a major weather event rolls through. Then take those images and make a stop motion film set to music that reflects the tone of the images. Thinking about it is my happy place. I have never told anyone that before.