Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sarah Bastin Interview!

Sarah is a great photographer, and I asked her if I could interview her for my blog and she agreed. Here is what she had to say!:

To get this started, how’s it going?

Great! When I started answering your questions, Vancouver was in a shiny July bubble and now we are September and it's raining. Just had a lovely summer, moving to Vancouver. I already love the city. Mountains, ocean, dark streets and a lot of shows at the Commodore and the Biltmore, what else do we need?! So yes, thanks for asking, I'm doing pretty good and Bumbershoot and Rifflandia just pumped me up. I'm also excited to travel on the American West Coast next month, in October.

What kind of camera do you use?

I use a lot of different cameras! I’m (a bit) of a camera nerd. I love photography and I love cameras as an object/gear. SO: I use both film and digital cameras. My first camera is the Nikon FE and I recently bought the Canon 5d Mark II after my 30D shutter broke. I mostly use these 2 cameras but I also enjoy lomography and old gear. I have a Rolleiflex made during the Second World War, Russian cameras, toy cameras (holga and so on) and the Canon Camera Sp, made like a Leica. I like to experiment so I have different formats, films...

What/who got you into photography, and why did you stick with it?

I’m self-taught and I probably got into photography alone but I have to admit that the Nikon FE is included in my childhood memories. As long as I can remember, my parent’s camera was a precious object/possession to me. It was something fragile, that kids can’t touch. The zoom made it more important and big. My parents are not into photography but I really remember that camera. Sometimes, they would let me look in the viewer and my mom taught me how to do the focus. It’s all manual and I was 8-10 years old so it was like a game to me. You had to align two lines to have a clear image. I’m still passionate by doing manual focus. It’s so magic to see the image appearing. So yes, it was like a fun game to me and I really enjoyed it. I waited 10 years before starting photography at the age of 16/17. It was just evident and simple to me. I’m more a shy person and photography gave me the opportunity to make contact with people. If I had something to say or share or I don’t know, I could take a photo. My love story with photography is all about finding the good distance with our world/people, finding my place and playing with the manual focus. With photography I both escape and stick with the reality.

If you weren’t shooting photos, what would you be doing?

I would be Spiderman’s replacement. We have the same glasses and we’re photographers. So yeah :] and if I fail as a super hero I wish I could be a good musician or a good drawer or a good writer. But for sure I need a creative work. When I was 8, I wanted to be a journalist or a photographer...

Digital or Film, and why?

In French I’d say, “les deux mon capitaine”! So... both! I’ve started photography with films and I’m totally addicted to film photography BUT at the same time, digital photography is useful. I explain.

I work with a couple of websites as far as music photography is concerned so digital gives us the opportunity to share photos very quickly. My photos are usually online a couple of hours after the show, or the day after. After a show, I usually run to my home to edit my photos. I need to keep the concert atmosphere to work on my photos. It's like writing, I'm in a mood.

At the same time, I always have my Nikon FE in my bag. More than my digital camera. I shoot more personal stuff; it's more about documenting life. I use expired film and I don't go through the process of digital editing. I usually take photos of my film because I don't have a scanner here in Vancouver. My film photography, at least, what I show, is about experiments. Sometimes I use this process for orders, it just depends on what I want to do, show.

I choose my camera for what I want to give. It's not about digital or film.

What was your first concert that you got a photo pass for?

For a long time, I thought my first photo pass was for AS Dragon (French band) at l’Elysee Montmartre, in Paris, December 2005... But I just realized that it was actually for Tegan and Sara show in Paris, at la Maroquinerie, June 2005! That was a long time ago. I was shooting with my first digital camera, the Sony DSC-F828, in a very small venue. It was awkward for me to do that, in a way. I don’t know why. It was a rainy/warm day in June with an apocalyptic light outside. For fun, I added the photos on Flickr last year; you can see the photo set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/redbookprojekt/sets/72157604501787837/

Being in the front row with a camera was both a sweet and weird sensation but I actually loved it. For the first time, I had music and photography.

What is your favourite style of photography to shoot like street, concert, and portraits?

Working with musicians is probably what I love most but my favourite style is not about street or concert or portrait. It’s all about being the witness of my time, of what it is done, of where we are and when and how. I want to document my time. That said it involved that I mostly shoot cities, events and concerts. The thing with music and cities photography is that it mixes all what I love so I feel really happy and lucky when I do it.

What was the hardest thing to overcome when you first started photography?

I’m more a shy person and I've always been. So yes, it's pretty much the hardest thing to overcome when I started photography and I'm still “fighting” against it. To be a photographer, you have to be both here and invisible. You're a witness but you have to connect with the person.

As a self=taught photographer, it's also hard for me to learn the lightning technique. If I had to recommend school photography, it would be only to learn how to do the light in a studio photo shoot.

Out of all the bands you’ve shot, what is the best one to shoot? What band gives the best photos, or has the best energy to shoot?

I can't answer your first question :-) BUT I really enjoyed my experience with T-ka (album cover), Pamela Hute (photo documentary during 3 years), Subway (photo documentary and video clip), and Katel (photo documentary). I was going on tour, experimenting, meeting people and you have to do something new for every single show. It was very challenging so yes, it's probably my best experience. Being in the photographer pit or being on the side of the stage, are two things really different. I like both but I prefer the side of the stage. I have strayed away from your question, again!

As far as the best photos or the best energy is concerned, I love bands with a lot of musicians. In July I really enjoyed taking photos of Wintermitts at Richards on Richards (Vancouver), more recently, BRASSTRONAUT at the Biltmore Cabaret gave me a lot of fun. You can play with the focus, with the gear on stage, with the angles, the light etc... I would kill to take photos of Arcade Fire.

At the same time I was stoked by taking photos of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Jarvis Cocker. Karen O and Jarvis Cocker are great performers, they do the show but it's so awesome. They play with the photographers. I don't know if they give us what we want but as a big fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs I was stoked. When the band is jumping everywhere it’s sometimes easier that taking a fragile photo of a quiet show. That said I prefer an indie band in a small venue with low lights than Elvis Costello at the Malkin Bowl.

So I can't pick a band and I can't pick up a situation but most recently, I had a blast at shooting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric, Tegan and Sara, Jarvis Cocker, Death Cab for Cutie, An Horse, Char2d2, Peter Bjorn John, Eagles of Death Metal, Deerhunter, Black Lips, Matt and Kim, Ariane Moffatt, Kaki King, Katel.

What’s your favourite lens to use?

Wide angles! I have a fisheye and a wide angle. I have to fix my canon 30d so I can use them again “properly” but my Tamron wide angle is definitely my favourite lens. I was talking about finding the good distance, and I think that wide angles helped me a lot in that search. I’ve missed so many things; I’ve been focused too much on closest shots. Wide angles made me realized the all scene. Raymond Depardon wrote that wide angles do not lie, its show where you are. I totally agree with that. I love my wide angle is because not a lot of music photographers use it for shows. That said, I must admit that Tamron/Sigma lenses don't have the same quality than the Canon ones. If you have money, go for the brand of your camera.

Outside of photography, what do you enjoy doing?

I can give you a long, long, long list. Since I arrived in Vancouver, I enjoy riding the seawall (ok and having two bikes accidents, don't forget your helmet). It’s so beautiful that it makes me want to smash the Eiffel tower. I also discovered doing yoga, cooking tofu, playing golf on PS2. And of course, I love record stores and book stores. I could spend 2 hours a day, everyday doing that.

Who are some of your favourite photographers?

I don’t really have one except Raymond Depardon. He is a French photographer/filmmaker, founder of Gamma and now working for Magnum. He mostly works in black and white and I’ve been very inspired by both his photos and his writings. Errance is my favourite book. It’s about travelling, loneliness, photography, love, light and so many things. I met him in Paris 5 months ago and I've asked him to draw me an owl. He did not know how to draw that. It was the cutest moment ever when you know that he has been a war photographer etc.

Otherwise, if you love music and photography, you should check about Emma Gaze. She is the drummer of Electrelane, a band that I love, and takes amazing photos. She did all the artwork for Electrelane albums. She has poetic photos from all the places she has been. Her work has just been featured in a new book, “The Art of Touring” edited by Mia Clarke and Sara Jaffe. I just bought it, it's less than 20$, buy it.

Looking back to when you first started photography, to now, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting out?

Stop being shy. Learn how to wait. Keep shooting. Show your work but not everything.

Any last words?

Thank you for “having me” on your website. Buy records, buy photos. Keep shooting, keep playing. Use pens and notebooks.

As far as I'm concerned, it's almost 9 here and I'm going to watch a Jennifer Aniston movie or, read Rainer Maria Rilke or Albert Camus.


Ryan Rose!

View more of her work here, on her flickr. Visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter here.


Emily Groundwater said...

sarah you are so well spoken. that was a pleasure to read!

sarah said...

Thanks for your interest Emily :)