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  • Sara Orme

Personal Exposure Interview. D-Photo Magazine

Few question the value of shooting personal work you are passionate about, but in the busy professional world it can be difficult to find the time and energy to make a start. This is something fashion and advertising photographer Sara Orme is acutely aware of. These days, she always has personal projects on the boil, but that hasn’t always been the case.“There was a good period in the middle of my career where I really didn’t do any personal work, because I had two young children and a full-time business as a photographer, so doing personal work was almost impossible,” she remembers. “Life was just so full-on, I didn’t have it in me to come up with something creative.” Now that her children have flown the nest,

however, the highly regarded photographer ensures she always has a steady flow of self initiated projects underway, usually of the documentary or portrait variety. These are the projects that reaffirm her love of the craft. “Commercial photography can be great, but often you have so many people involved in the final image it can get quite watered-down, and you lose a lot of control. Whereas with a personal project you have full control, it’s your vision,” she says. At present, Orme is channelling that vision towards a new project of nude images in collaboration with fellow photographer Damian Nikora. Still in its conceptual infancy, the exhibition will feature images created by the pair around an as-yet-undecided theme. Orme’s

interest in the nude genre developed out of previous personal projects. Two years ago, she was working with stylist Courtney Sanders on an exhibition titled Redemption, which explored the idea of states of undress and female sexuality in a fashion context. Shot on location in Whanganui with spectacular natural light, the shoot evolved organically to include several nudes. The photographer, who also holds a degree in sociology, found the path an interesting one to persevere with. “I’m a female photographing nudes and that’s traditionally been a male domain, which I challenge,” Orme explains. “I find it interesting that there aren’t that many women photographing nudes. I’m more interested in female nudes, I feel more comfortable with them.”Comfort plays a big part in Orme’s process, as her approach to both fashion and nudes is very personal. She talked with several fashion models before finding the right one for Redemption, because not all were at ease with the process of going from clothed to the state of undress required. Building upon her sociological interest, the photographer explains her approach to nudes is somewhat autobiographical, giving her the opportunity to climb into the female psyche and examine her own feelings: “When I’m photographing females, I’m projecting myself on to them. How I would like to be seen, or how I’d move, or how I’d be confident with my own body, or how I want myself to be seen.”

Since shooting her first nudes for Redemption, Orme has returned to the theme in a much different context. Known for working on location to create vivid scenes using deep contrasts of natural light, her subsequent foray into nudes was a fully lit studio experiment. “It was very not like me and it was quite a challenge. I wanted the images to look like pencil line drawings, so I shot them completely in light. I collaborated with a designer called Lela Jacobs, and we had these beautiful little pieces of fur, which the body become like an installation for,” Orme says. Different though the process may have been, Orme still returned to her central concern of comfort on the shoot. The model she worked with this time was older, and she, too, was very comfortable with herself. For the currently untitled collaborative nude project she plans to move onto next, the photographer will take things a step further and try for the same level of comfort and assurance from non-models. “We’re thinking we might not work with models, we might just work with real people. It’s not so ‘ideal body’–based. Again, the key thing will be people that are totally confident with their bodies. I’ve recently been speaking with some friends, and one of them is already saying, ‘I’ll do it, I’ll do it!’” While the project is still in the early concept stage, Orme’s enthusiasm is unmistakable as she discusses the possibilities and ideas she wishes to explore. The opportunity to work on something personal is clearly key to keeping her passion for the job aflame: “It’s rewarding coming up with the concepts, working through your ideas, and, on the actual day of shooting, it’s just fantastic — it’s like breathing in that passion. You remember, that’s why I do photography. “It keeps me alive and passionate about my craft.” To see more of Sara’s fashion, advertising, and personal work, visit .


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