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Interview with SARAH ALLEN, USA

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

There is something very raw about film. It takes patience. It’s gritty, imperfect and romantic.

I'm super thrilled to have you here, Sarah. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your photography.

Sarah: My name is Sarah Allen.I was born in the United States and live in Atlanta, Georgia. I got my first camera for a high school photography class in 2007. It was a digital camera (Nikon D50) and I didn’t know much about film but I knew I loved taking pictures. Near the end of college I was shooting engagements and weddings and wanted to make a career out of wedding photography. It wasn’t long before I got burnt out and frustrated with the wedding industry. It became very saturated and didn’t seem authentic anymore. I sold all my digital gear and began teaching myself how to use the film cameras my grandfather had passed down to me. The first film camera I used was a Nikon EM with a roll of Portra 400 and I was hooked.

What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?

Sarah: I love Kodak Gold 200, Portra 400 and Fuji Superia 400. I recently started shooting some night photography with Cinestill 800t. I don’t think I have settled on one to shoot exclusively as I think they all offer different moods and feelings. I also like shooting expired film and the interesting colors and grain it produces. As for cameras: I use a classic Canon AE-1 and I still love my old Nikon EM-- it’s got some awesome light leaks. I recently bought a Fujica ST801 and have an old Leica M3 that I should use more. When I want to shoot medium format the Pentax 6x7.

What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?

Sarah: There is something very raw about film. It takes patience. It’s gritty, imperfect and romantic.

Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?

Sarah: I did take a class where I learned to develop and print my own film but once doing it at home I realized I like the shooting part better than everything that comes after. I use a nearby lab that develops and sends my scans. I have printed a few that are hanging up in my house.

What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?

Sarah: I am not a patient person and film has taught me a lot about myself in that way. Good lighting and composition inspire me to shoot film. I am a sucker for good light and notice it everywhere I go.

Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?

Sarah: When I was starting out I saw Nicola Odemann’s work and was mesmerized by her landscape photos. It inspired me to shoot film when I travel.

Do you see any value or merit shooting with film? 

Sarah: I think film can teach you a lot about the technical side of photography and so much about light. With digital it can be easy to take a photo and look at it right after to see how to tweak your settings. With film you tend to take your time and really learn to master it.

What do you think your future is like with film photography?

Sarah: I think film photography will always be a part of my life. I would love to sell prints one day.

Any dream film photography project in mind?

Sarah: To shoot a documentary style film journal on a road or train trip.

Photographers around the world are finding ways to keep themselves busy during this lockdown, and coming up with activities to make self-isolation a bit more interesting. What are your ways to keep busy while you have to stay at home?

Sarah: I have shot more photos around my house and self-portraits. I have also watched YouTube film photography channels to learn and stay inspired. “GrainyDays” is one of my favorites.

Would you like to offer some good words to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?

Sarah: Just try it! You don’t need an expensive camera. Borrow one from your family or pick one up at a thrift store or eBay. Read about the settings and the basics of aperture and shutter speed and just take your time experimenting.

Anything you want to add? Future exhibits, projects you're currently busy with? Anything…

Sarah: In October my husband and I are taking a road trip and I will be documenting it on film. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on film photography, Sarah. Let's keep in touch and stay safe out there!

Follow Sarah on Instagram and get updates on her stunning work and future projects.



Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Sarah Allen. She devoted her time, and worked hard making these photographs. You know very well it's wrong to copy, download, reproduce, reprint, modify, distribute, publicly display, license, transfer or sell content retrieved from this page in any way, for any public or commercial use or to any commercial source, including other websites, without prior written permission of Sarah Allen. Be good. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?

Well now, if you are a passionate film photographer and would like to be interviewed? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email with the subject, "Interview me", and share your story, thoughts, and work related to film photography. I’ll get back to you as soon as I receive your request for an interview.

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