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I'm the kind of girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. So much so, sometimes it gets me in trouble. My style of photography, I believe, encompasses who I am as a person and also as a photographer. It's almost a never-ending question—as in life—I'm extremely curious and inquisitive.
"Who, what, how and why?" I love to find out what makes people who they are. I love to connect. My style of photography can be defined as street portraiture or street photography, but I prefer the term, "Realism." I enjoy concentrating on the human moment.
Baby Dreads, Aruba, February 2010
I'm a hopeless romantic and a sensitive person. Even when, perhaps, photographing a subject whom others may be afraid of, such as a drug user (with 7" knife in pocket—true story!) or someone with a disgruntled look about them, I choose to see the good in everyone. Behind the using, there is a person with a heart who may have had rough breaks in life and made a huge wrong turn. It's not for me to judge. I feel my work is not about judging people; it's about celebrating people. We are all so unique. Perhaps that's why I'm so attracted to the term "Realism." It's about finding the soul behind the exterior of what we see daily on the street.
Purple Haze, Portugal, June 2010
The Eyes Have It
I like to capture the real person, not the person whom we try to be in our daily lives, behind the masks we wear. When I "catch" somebody, and only them, it truly is special. I know that moment, the moment when eyes lock with my eyes, through the lens, my vision. As soon as I press the button and I hear the loud audible shutter slap of my trusty Mamiya 645 , I know whether I captured that moment or not. I feel a rush when I know I got it, or perhaps disappointment in myself that I couldn't connect. I want to tell the subject's story. It's an openness I'm looking for, as if I (or my lens) know them better than anyone in this world.
Bearded Lady, Madeira, June 2010
Yes, I'm old school. I shoot film, usually 120 film. Yes, I know we live in a digital age. I truly believe digital is an amazing medium and I use it for personal shots or commercial projects, but for my street photography, I wouldn't dream of it. Could I get more bang for my buck? Sure. Could I potentially shoot a lot more in a day? Sure. But would it be as special to me? No. To me, there is a romance in using film. It not only looks more authentic—as if I could reach in and touch the person—but it slows down my process. It makes me think and savor each shot more, really think about my exposure, think about the framing. I have 16 shots on a roll of 120. I try to make each and every one special. I don't take two or three shots of each person, perhaps two at most. I usually feel I can catch the moment in one shot. There is nothing like viewing the negatives for the first time; there is a wait involved. A huge anticipation. Don't the best things come to those who wait?
Girl, Dutch Caribbean, February 2010
I'm new to the B&H Insights community and am thrilled to be a part of it. I will be delving into more details on the subject of street photography and street portraiture in the near future.
Sara Louise Petty is a New York-based fashion designer and most importantly, mother. Always a lover of photograhy and the arts, she picked up a plastic toy Holga camera and started to experiment with analog photography. Although the Holga produced (and still produces) some of her most moving images, she moved on to 35mm and medium-format cameras.