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Daily Inspiration: Meet Sarah Ohta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Ohta.

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started photography the summer before my freshman year in college (2017) and was pretty casual about the process. I mainly would take photos of my friends to practice my portrait work, as well as organize smaller photoshoots through Stanford’s main fashion magazine, MINT. During this time, I also spent many hours teaching myself how to edit in Lightroom and Photoshop so that I could feel confident in my abilities to edit any photo.

Around the end of my sophomore year (2019), I started to freelance more seriously and began to photograph concerts. Thankfully, I had a few early opportunities to photograph some bigger artists through Stanford’s Concert Network on campus (Jorja Smith, Kali Uchis, Lil Yachty), but it wasn’t until the fall of that year that I started to land more serious gigs by becoming a photography contributor at Live Nation. Specifically, I worked for Ones to Watch, which is a branch of Live Nation that spotlights rising artists and follows their trajectory until they become highly successful. As a result, I’ve been able to photograph artists such as Conan Gray, Rex Orange County, Louis the Child, and Jeremy Zucker, amongst many others.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The pathway into live music can be extremely difficult, and quite honestly, the trajectory can look very different for each person. Personally, I think my transition into concert photography was a little fast, and I am very thankful that my work was picked up relatively quickly by Ones to Watch, which completely opened my access to new shows and artists. However, since I spent my first two years in photography focusing on editing and portraiture, I was able to switch over more easily since I was already comfortable using my camera gear and photographing in a variety of lighting conditions.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I always have trouble answering this for myself, so I’ve asked others in the past to describe my concert work. A lot of people say that my edits are dreamlike and surrealist but not overly edited to the point where the photo looks tacky. I love adding extra elements into my photos, whether it be a galaxy, collaging, neon, or anything I can think of! Overall, I aim to bring back even a small part of the magic of being at the show in person, as if to freeze a moment in time that has otherwise already passed. People have been extremely kind and said that my work is unique, and I hope to continue pushing myself to create art that shifts the norm even a little.

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