Sarah Fuchs is a 26-year-old Norwegian travel and documentary photographer based in Amsterdam. Her curiosity for the world has led her to visit more than 40 countries and lived in four countries on two continents. She shoots almost exclusively on film, which allows her to slow down and connect with her surroundings in an otherwise busy daily life.
What are the rules of your photographic work?
I don’t think I have any rules for my photographic work. I would say that my pictures are often quite different based on whatever it is that inspires me at the moment. I find that rules limit the way I work and what I capture. I like to push the boundaries of the methods and techniques that I have been using so far. That is also the best way to keep learning and growing and to have fun!
Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?
The turning point for me was when I put my digital camera on the shelf and started shooting exclusively on film. It forced me to consider what I wanted to capture. I had to get to know my camera and how it works to get the results I wanted. Now I shoot a mix of analog and digital but starting in analog improved my photographic skills and mindset.
Tell us about an experience that changed the way you work and made you grow.
Before I moved to Amsterdam, I lived in South Korea for half a year. During my stay there, I visited a small island south of the country called Jeju. There I met an incredible group of freediving women called the Haenyeo. Up until this moment, I had mainly shot whatever I found beautiful and what would fall within the category of travel photography. But the encounter with these women made me more interested in the storytelling aspect of photography. I wanted to tell the world about these incredible women through photography. Since then, my focus has been more on learning how to become a better documentary photographer.
Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.
The pandemic in 2020 put a stop to the lifestyle I had been living so far. I was used to traveling and exploring all the time, and suddenly I was stuck at home every day. I have always had a difficult time photographing my hometown. Because I am so used to it, I struggle to see it with fresh eyes and find a new way of capturing it. At first, I reacted by taking a break from photography altogether, and slowly I started exploring other aspects of photography I hadn’t engaged with so far. I started practicing portrait and documentary photography, and I have to admit I love it. It is different to work with a human subject, rather than just nature or places. But it adds something special to a picture, and it inspired me to continue to engage more with people through my photography in the future.
How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?
I like to think that I enter every environment with both curiosity and respect. I try to represent my subjects fairly, in the way in which they appear in the world. That is also why I don’t do much post-production of my images. I like the magic of the real world moments to remain within the image.
I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.
I’m not sure if I have any bonus tricks. I think one piece of advice I can give is not to get hung up on gear. When I first started, I was always researching cameras and lenses. I kept thinking that if I only have that specific camera, then my images will be better. But in reality, you don’t need a fancy camera to take great photographs. The best way to capture great photographs is by practicing with whatever camera you have right now. The gear will follow eventually.
Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?
I’m a bit of a camera nerd, and so I have a wide range of cameras by now. I mainly shoot analog using my Canon AE-1 or my Mamiya rb67 for medium format. I also have some point-and-shoot and half-frame cameras for the fun of it. Recently I started picking up digital photography using my Sony Alpha 6500.
Are there any books you would recommend?
I think the ideal way of learning is by doing. No book can ever teach you to be a photographer the way going out and taking pictures every day can. Other than that, you can gain a lot from studying the photo books of your favorite photographers. Ask yourself: what is it that I love about this image? Am I drawn to the colors, shapes, or mood? What techniques did they use to capture it?
What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?
As cliche as this will sound, I think the world around me inspires me. Somedays I’m inspired by a news article, other days by the way the light shines through the leaves in the forest. It depends.