Sara Clarken


Sara Clarken


Richmond, Virginia

Twitter @saraclarken
Instagram @saraclarken


What do you do?

I’m a photographer and artist seeking the sweet spot in art and fashion.

Give us a specific example of how you do your job like a BOSS. 

I am an extremely hard worker, and am on the competitive side. I not only try to make the best possible outcome for myself, but when working on collaborative projects with brands and other artists I make sure that the final product is made to the best of its ability. Because much of my art is based on trending aesthetics in the consumer market, I am always researching in order to stay one step ahead of the game. Although I’m a fast paced worker, I really do enjoy taking the time to meet and collaborate with others, and extending my gathered knowledge within the multiple outlets of young creatives.


Why photography?  What drew you to that skill set?

I originally went into art school with the idea that I would pursue a career in fashion design, but after completing my first year of general art practices I found myself in the position behind the image making portion of fashion. I was specifically drawn to being apart of the voice in which garments have, and creating worlds and narratives for them to live in. I love the flexibility to take this role behind multiple designers and styles.


For other people in your field, what do they usually lack? 

Ambition. Because of my interest in commercial and editorial fashion photography, I put myself in positions assisting other photographers at a young age. In order to gain experience in a field so competitive, you have to be willing to do the dirty work first and really reach out to professionals for mentorship. Putting yourself out there can be humbling, sometimes discouraging, but in my opinion is the only way to gain the credibility and experience one needs to move forward in their field.


If you have multiple jobs and/or skills, which one do you wish you could do more often?

I wish I had more time to flex my interest in prop management and set design on shoots. As a visual artist, I treat fashion shoots as an extension of both my photographic style and installation work. Fashion is an interaction between human and form so I enjoy adding external elements and structures to accent the existing sculptural aspects in the garments.


Any specific aesthetics or trends that you are currently drawn to?

I’m drawn to minimalist and contemporary fashion, where the pieces begin to dip into a realm of considered sculptural form. I admire shoots were the models look almost mechanical, taking on poses and expressions similar to mannequins. These aesthetics combined I believe are on the forefront of utilitarianism and modernist movements in today’s culture.

What is frustrating you right now? 

My current location in Richmond, Virginia has severely affected me moving forward with my editorial work. Thankfully this spring I am completing my undergrad and will have the freedom to move to a larger city permanently, preferably LA and to work with a more diverse group of stylists, makeup artists and designers.

Why LA?  

I think I’m most drawn to LA because of the positive drive in the creative field. Maybe it’s the weather, but I feel the eagerness and drive of young artists. There’s so much space to step back and take time to work on personal work and not get overwhelmed by the concentrated stimulation in cities such as NYC. I also am interested in taking part in the growing art scene, and hope to pursue my masters degree while residing in LA as well. I think if I made the move to relocate to Europe I would choose Berlin, Helsinki, Stockholm, or Amsterdam based on publications and galleries I wish to be associated with. I’ve lived on the east coast all my life, and Richmond was a perfect transition city to NYC, but it still wasn’t a big enough push for me mentally. The east coast feels so familiar, and I’m dying to get out of my comfort zone and work in new spaces.

What are you putting off right now, but you know you have to get to, but you haven’t had the time?

I try to always reserve time for even the tiniest details, but sometimes you just can’t remember it all on that day off. Before moving though, I should really order more business cards and possibly redesign my site.

If you could hire someone for $20/hour, what would you have them do to make your day easier?

Assist with digital image processing and studio lighting on shoots. I also could always use an extra pair of hands when carrying equipment and shooting on location.

What are all the tools (digital or physical) you use on a regular basis?

I love using, Instagram, and digital art and fashion publications when making mood boards for projects. When editing I use Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 programs.


What are you working on right now?

I currently just started working with an NYC and LA based art direction company on collaborative projects, and am working on concepting a shoot for a new Midwest designer and curator. I’ve also been on the PR board for my senior exhibition which includes the responsibilities of promotional social media, event planning, curating work, and fundraising. With the free time I have left, I’ve begun an additional editorial shoot for print publications.

What kind of opportunities/projects are you looking for?

I’m looking to shoot look books and ad campaigns for established designers and stylists. I also have experience with ecommerce shooting, retouching, and file management for high end mens and womenswear boutiques. I am interested in freelance work as well as an in house photographer position.


Describe a really positive past experience that you had with a client.

When both parties put in equal effort, the original idea is open to grow into something even more fantastic than expected. Positive attitudes lead to an open mind, which is important when two creatives are collaborating. Any repetitive business is the best reward, because even if two artists come from different backgrounds with different general knowledge, if you can keep the dialogue open then you know you’ve established a relationship farther than just for hire.


What is your hourly rate, retainer, or salary range?

It all depends on the job or assignment. I always take in account how many hours am I shooting, how many hours of retouching, studio rental, location scouting, and travel expenses.  When I take on more responsibility rather than just showing up to shoot, I have to budget studio rental costs, food on set, and rates for the models, makeup/hair, stylist, and any assistants.


How should someone approach you about working with you?

Most importantly I want to hear your ideas, and then want to see if the necessary finances needed to move forward are accounted for. I’m a sucker for coffee meet ups mostly because it’s such a warmer way to negotiate future work rather than just communicating through online portals.

This member profile was originally published on February 2015.