A Parisian Photography Profile: Sarah T Skinner


Sarah T Skinner has something of the masterpiece about her. This petite, blue-eyed blonde has come a long way from her roots as a native of Seattle, Washington State, to our meeting spot in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.
Other than a sparkling eye she gives little away as to the unique tools she uses to create her craft. But this individual produces the kind of photography that, once seen, is difficult to forget.
Her pictures manage to blend a subtle technical mastery with a depth of truth so striking that it seems accidental. The resulting images tell developed and resonant stories; something that I quickly discover is integral to Skinner’s personal ideology and representative of one of her fundamental goals. In a characteristic and charmingly candid style, Sarah Takako Skinner sheds a little light on some of her deeper reflections in life…


FAULT: What keeps you going as a photographer?

Sarah: The passion to tell stories, the situations and adventures this puts me in and the satisfaction I receive when I see a photo series come together cohesively. How the power of one image can be so profound. I never get tired of the challenge and I get excited to keep pushing and creating more.


FAULT: Can you personally define the thing that makes photography worth it…?

Sarah: I like the challenge to show the complexity of a person. I know I’ve succeeded when I get 7 or 8 photos that are so different as to show this dynamism.

FAULT: How do you choose a subject? Everyone has multiple facets to their personalities.

Sarah: At the moment, I read about a person then I contact him/her about the possibility of a project.
I’m most intrigued by a person who lives dualities and an adventurous life; someone who makes exciting or unusual choices with uncertain or risky outcomes. These are people I not only want to befriend, but to photograph as well. 


You have traveled to a myriad of places. Do you think adventurers are so interesting because they reflect your own nature?
Sarah: Each photograph I take is like a self-portrait. It’s not about the other person as much as how I reflect in them. I cannot create what is not inside of me, therefore in a way – every image is a self-portrait, a reflection of the soul… that’s my take on it anyway.
I bring personalities to the surface as I can feel them.

FAULT: How about future adventures?

Sarah: The next natural step for me is film, becoming a Director is probably my long-term goal. My intrigue is, will I be able to create the kind of impact in set motion as one can create in one photograph or a series? An image is so powerful.


FAULT: What is the relationship between photographs and reality in your eyes?

Sarah: To me, it is a heightened sense of something previously present. Unless your photographic bias is towards pure reportage you push people beyond their own personal image towards something deeper, something they don’t usually let go. I’m projecting what I see and I help people to show it for me. This is reality emerging. I’m making my subjects go to the levels that you need to create a great image, because if they don’t then it’s a shitty photograph and people aren’t feeling it. The subject needs to feel intensely, no matter what the emotion, for an image to be good. You must awaken a persons’ raw vulnerability in a place that is beyond their normal zone of safety.

Interview by Kat Rutherford.