“One has to put in the work to get the work.”
Sarah Stacke is a documentary photographer from the US currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
She took photography classes as an undergraduate and graduate student, although she never received a degree in photography.
Sarah Stacke learned the most about photography through practice and working as an assistant.
Interview with Sarah Stacke
Sarah, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I was drawn to photography as a means to say something about the world. It became, and remains, the way I process life events – my own and those around me – and questions of humanity. It means everything to me.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
There are two photographers who have inspired me most. Burt Glinn taught me to be a person before a photographer. Margaret Sartor inspired me to think deeply about the meaning of photography, both broadly and within individual images.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
All of my projects have been approached differently. In general, I have an idea about the concept. Then I choose what I think will be the best format to execute the project. Then, I go with the flow and allow myself to change direction.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“Every feeling waits upon its gesture.”
I look to different quotes at different times. Eudora Welty so beautifully said: “Every feeling waits upon its gesture.” I think about that quote a lot.
I also love what Emmet Gowin said in his recent feature on LENS: “You’re always working at the margin of what you don’t understand. That’s the only exhilarating place to be. To just illustrate what you already know is condescending, and a waste of your time.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I primarily use a Canon DSLR.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I like many of them for various reasons. “Feature Shoot” is cool because it highlights such a wide range of photographers.
The way that “BagNews” analyzes news images and underlines issues of media literacy is impressive and important.
The attention that LENS gives to photographers of diverse backgrounds is wonderful. I could go on and on, but you would probably learn more about me if I revealed which sites I don’t like.
What book about photography would you recommend?
I would recommend “Beauty in Photography” by Robert Adams.
It’s inspiring, challenging, smart and insightful. It questions more than photography; it questions human beings.
You also teach documentary photography workshops. Which advice do you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photojournalist?
I’m a big proponent of pursuing personal projects. I tell students how important I believe personal projects are in developing a voice and finding a raison d’être, something I feel helps one get through challenging times in the field. I also tell students that one has to put in the work to get the work.