I met Sara Yoder two years ago when I was shopping around for an interiors photographer for my projects. I was immediately drawn to her photographs – her landscapes, both urban and natural, are a fascinating combination of power and stillness. She also brings a rational, calm eye to her interior photographs that really connect with me. I enjoyed Sara’s interview below – she is a thoughtful person who knows how to “make good art.” Sara has a show in the main gallery at the Denver Arts Society this month and she will also be showing a series of landscapes and a series of street photography in her studio space downstairs. Try to stop by this Friday, November 4th, for the Sante Fe Arts District’s First Friday event to see her work and meet Sara – or anytime the gallery is open this month. Her work is really special; I think you’ll like it!
1. Why do you think you were first drawn to photography?
Throughout my childhood, I seemed to have a lot of adults in my life who always had ongoing artistic side projects. My grandma on my dad’s side still creates these awesome oil paintings based on photos she has taken of landscapes and grandkid adventures. My mom quilts and sews; she actually made a lot of our clothes when my siblings and I were really young. My grandpa on my mom’s side had his own dark room and took his camera everywhere, from family vacations to aircraft in WWII. I couldn’t draw, and my sewing projects always seemed to get left unfinished.. but I could point a camera at things and push a button. As I got older, it became a way for me to side-step my introverted personality traits and contribute something different to my social group. Although I didn’t participate in yearbook, I did document every event we were a part of in junior high and high school. I guess it gave me a greater sense of self-worth or purpose. It was my own side project.
2. There’s a calm stillness to your work that attracted me to your photographs immediately. Do you see this in your work?
Thank you! I really hadn’t noticed until you said it, but I suppose it makes sense that the mental state you’re in when you create something is reflected in the final product. Photography is still what I do on the side after my day job, and also what I do in addition to everyday life… it seems like the older I get, the more everyday life-related activities there are. The juggling of it all just seems so hectic and insane at times. When I get to be a photographer, I am allowed to tune out the everyday chatter to focus on this one thing that is my own. It seems like a rare state of mind to get to have, and I’m grateful when it happens.
3. You seem to feel a connection to your community and I wonder how, or if, this translates into your photographs?
I live in Five Points, which is an area of Denver that has been changing rapidly over the past few years. It’s been interesting to witness the change, the effect it’s had on the residents, and also to compare common misconceptions about the area with my own experiences and interactions within the community. As a photographer, I feel the need to document all of this. As part of this vastly diverse group of people, I also feel the need to respect the personal space of those who might be more vulnerable to the changes. For example, I have a hard time photographing the homeless in a way that shows individual identifying features. I haven’t been homeless, but I have been really down on my luck in the past – I know I wouldn’t have appreciated a camera in my face during that time. I think there’s just more of a range of emotions behind my street stuff that isn’t really present in my architecture work, which is partially due to my environment and the people around me.
4. I first met you as as an architecture and interior design photographer. What is it about buildings and architecture, both interior and exterior, that interests you?
Beyond my fondness for clean lines, geometrical shapes, and symmetry, I like to think of good architectural design (both interior and exterior) as a perfect combination of math, science, art and ideas. It’s both sides of the brain, and it took a lot of effort and collaboration to come together in a way that works. I see a lot of this in the execution of your work. I’m always amazed by how you are able to walk that fine line of staying completely true to your style, but also giving your clients a final product that fits with their individual personalities and preferences. The more I learn about your work, the more I realize how much I enjoy the challenge of condensing everything that went into each part of the project into a single representative photograph.
5. Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on your first show – I’m really happy for you! Is there a theme or common idea that links the photographs you’ll be showing?
Thanks! I randomly jumped on an opportunity to rent studio space at the Denver Art Society a few weeks ago, so it’s been quite the learning experience getting everything together in such a short amount of time. Overall, it’s very exciting to have this new outlet to explore. There are so many amazing artists and people associated with DAS – I’m definitely feeling some pressure to step it up and bring something of quality to the table. It’s a good feeling.
This month Sara is showing a few large black and white canvas prints in the main gallery, including a 30×30 version of Denver Fishbowl. She is also showing a series of landscapes, and a separate series of street photography in her studio space downstairs.
Laura is a Denver-based Interior Designer who runs an Interior Design Studio based in sunny Colorado with a strong commitment to livable and interesting interiors. She also runs The Colorado Nest, a Denver blog about Design, Art and Life in the Mountain West.
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