Sarah is a NZIPP Accredited Professional Photographer based in the Wellington region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Hi Sarah! Can you please tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Lower Hutt, Wellington. I’m still in Lower Hutt with my husband Aaron and my three children Khya, Charlie and Beau. I have always had a passion for photography and wanted to be a photographer for as long as I can remember! I have suffered with terrible self doubt forever so it took me a LONG time to finally get the courage to actually do what I had wanted to do for so long! It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I finally had the guts to take the leap and start Charlie Horse Photography, and once I had I was so mad at myself for not taking that leap a lot sooner!
What type of photography do you do and where do you get the inspiration for your work?
I do mostly newborns, maternity and family photography. Maternity is my absolute favourite thing to photograph. Photographing women is really special to me, I know how hard it can be to put yourself in front of a camera but watching a woman’s self confidence grow in front of my eyes is by the far the most rewarding part of my job! There is so much inspiration out there! I am inspired everyday from all of the amazing work that pops up on my social media everyday! I follow a lot of incredible artists and a few of my favourite newborn photographers are right here in NZ!
Did you always want to be a photographer? Did you dream of something else when you were “grown up”? How did it all start?
I think I always wanted to be a photographer, or an artist of some sort. I think if I could paint I would be a painter or if I could draw I would be an illustrator but I’m not very good at either so photography it was! I just wanted to create stuff!
Who has influenced you the most? Is there another photographer or artist that you consider as a kind of Idol?
I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for Sue Bryce. Sue has been the biggest influence on me in every way, business, creativity and personal growth. I was so fortunate to be able to do a workshop with Sue when she was here in NZ in 2018 and it was truly amazing!
Richard Wood is definitely my creativity idol! Richard’s images blow my mind, I always think he couldn’t possibly come up with new different creative ideas but he just keeps doing it and his images just get more and more beautiful! Amber Griffin and Kelvin Gilbert are also bloody amazing and totally inspiring!..and how cool that they are all Kiwi’s! We have such incredible talent here!
How much preparation do you put into your “average” photoshoot?
There is always a lot of prep that goes into most shoots but newborns definitely take the most work! Every item needs to be washed before and after every session, the studio heaters need to run for at least 2 hours before the client arrives (the studio needs to be super toasty for newborns!), and then there is the planning of what colours, wraps, props etc I will use for each session. After the sessions there is obviously the hours and hours of editing! I enjoy editing most of the time though so I don’t mind too much!
How many newborn shoots would you average per year?
To be honest I have actually never sat down and worked that out! I actually don’t keep track of how many shoots I do each year ( I know I probably should do that! ha!) but I did do a rough count a couple of years ago and it averaged out to 2.5 shoots per week. It would be amazing if they actually were 2 shoots per week but the problem with newborns is you have to shoot them when they are ready! Sometimes you can have 5 one week, one the next, none the next and seven the next! It can be pretty crazy during certain months!
What has been your most popular picture and why do you think that is?
I had a photograph go a bit viral and ended up in the paper etc a couple of years ago. It was a photograph I took for a beautiful client of mine Cherie of her twin babies. Cherie had booked a newborn session for her twin boys during her pregnancy but she got devastating news that one of the boys had passed away during her pregnancy. Cherie still wanted to go ahead with the booking for her baby Tiger. When Tiger and Johnny were born I asked Cherie if she would like to include Johnny somehow in the shoot with Tiger and she said she would love that so we did. I photographed Johnny and Tiger in the same bowl to represent them sharing the same womb and wound Tigers wrap around Johnny like an umbilical cord. It is still my favourite image I have ever taken because I know it meant a lot to Cherie and her family and that’s what the image was all about. I think the image resonated with a lot of people because so many people go through similar situations. Dealing with infant loss must feel so isolating but with Cherie sharing her story and her allowing me to share her image people got to connect and talk about their experiences and it was so moving.
Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
No I have no idea what it would have been but I can guarantee you it would have been terrible! ha!
Any word of wisdom for the up and comers?
Yes! In the words of Nike JUST DO IT!! Don’t let your own self doubt hold you back from doing what you love, the only person in your way is YOU! (I’m really good at giving the advice, not the best at taking it! haha!)
Why did you join NZIPP and begin your journey to becoming Accredited?
I originally joined NZIPP because a good friend of mine told me I had to enter the IRIS awards after years of being too scared to do so! So that’s why I joined in the first place but I wanted to get my accreditation because it just gave me a sense of legitimacy I guess, like maybe it proved to myself that I’m doing ok and am on the right track!