Gifted with genuine sensitivity, Montreal-based artist Sarah Seené makes light and emotions her main allies. Whether working with film photography or Polaroid, immortalizing natural landscapes or faces, her works stay ethereal and captivating. To browse through the photographer’s many projects is almost like reading a collection of poetry. We’ve asked her a few questions.
Hi Sarah! Tell us more about your path and how you became a photographer…
I learned film photography at the age of 16 during evening classes at the Beaux-Arts in Belfort, the city where I grew up. I particularly enjoyed discovering the magic of developing film and original prints. After high school, I studied literature and cinema, but I kept doing a lot of film photography.
In 2011, I participated in a competition launched by a Parisian bookstore. The goal was to create a triptych with Polaroid pictures. After that, I have not left the Polaroid for years, and it has even become my medium of choice. And then followed my first projects, my first exhibitions and publications. Photography has naturally taken the center of my life. Now I realize personal projects, and I work for artists, musicians.
How do you define your artistic universe?
My images are often described as oneiric and poetic. Personally, I perceive a lot of sensuality and sensitivity in it. My different projects have in common the human, his emotions and his energy of life. My thread is related to a certain form of softness related to the look I put on those I photograph. I have an immeasurable love for faces, skins, eyes and especially for the light. It is the one who guides me in my choices. It must always be natural; I never work with artificial light.
I can define my will as making luminous photographs, mainly when I deal with subjects that might seem difficult at first sight. However, it is not excluded that areas of shadows cross the light… Indeed, I would say there is also sometimes a strangeness, a worry, a thrill running through my work, and it makes pain and life cohabit.
What are your primary sources of inspiration?
Once again, the human is at the heart of my inspirations – Women and men who have resilience and strength. Life but also death fascinate me. Also, music is a valuable inspiration, more than photography itself.
You currently work on a series called «Fovea» focusing on young Quebecers with visual impairment.
Fovea is my most important project so far. The fovea is «the area, located in the extension of the visual axis of the eye, where the vision of the details is the most precise.» [Larousse Dictionary, 2018]
Fovea is a documentary photography series, made in black and white film, highlighting these young people’s reality.
Whether they are visually impaired due to a degenerative disease, a car accident, an early stroke, or were born blind, these young people have a striking life path and extraordinary resilience. Far from white canes and smoked glasses, Fovea’s portraits avoid stereotypes about visual impairment. It illustrates the tender and poetic relationship they have with the world around them. When I exhibit my series, each photograph has a descriptive text in the form of a Braille poem. The project also includes sound documentaries and a film in Super-8.
Finally, what would be your dream project?
Without any hesitation, to create the cover of Bjork’s next album! My ultimate dream!
Follow Sarah Seené on Instagram.