Sara Zahn


My portfolio consists of the work that I did in in the Fall of 2000 at Hampshire College, plus two recent and ongoing bodies of work. Only in my recent work have I begun to develop something which is my own, something to which I can begin to attach a critical language, and see where I might like to proceed. While this work is based in a documentary approach, I am not an objective photographer. My photographs are research that touches theatricality to get at something intimate, which I generally understand as transgression or metaphor. I have a very strong emotional bond to my subjects, in particular a continuing project to photograph my younger sister, whom I've been photographing for the six years since I was reuinited with our biological mother and first met her. I look for impulses, reflections, vulnerability, an awareness of the moment, and the horror of sudden absence, and I try to find myself and my subject's self in and from these places.

In "people photography", there is an intimacy to capture, there is a bond between the photographer and the subject, and a moment when a photograph can be a conversation between the photographer and subject, a point when the photographer becomes both witness and participant. I am captivated by this engagement, and I delight in the moments in photography when I experience this. I think its a common goal for photographers, and I have seen it and understood its possibility in photographers like Nan Goldin, Francesaca Woodman, Diane Arbus, and Robert Frank.

I want to make photographs that document the lives and experiences of the subjects I focus on. So far these have been primarily friends and family. I am interested in a tender, carnal and emotional account of both the personal and social aspects of people whom I photograph, whether they are family, friends, or strangers. I want an intimate record of reality, which at times I find most clearly in a kind of symbolic reconstruction of what is "real."