Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Ainsworth.
Sarah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story is still being written, but it feels like I’m returning to my roots. WAAAY back when, when I was a teenager, and all cameras used film, I would go out to the Sierras with my parents and my Minolta, and photograph the trees and the mountains and my parents hiking. My dad is a hobbyist photographer, and I took a lot of pictures of my dad taking pictures… In college, I took a photography class just for fun, and after college, when I was working in San Francisco, I’d take the train to Hayward to meet Dad and we’d go together to a photography class at a local gallery and learning center. Those classes focused on landscape and architectural photography. Around that time, I bought a Pentax K-20D, my first digital camera. It served me well for a decade! I just upgraded to a K-1 about two years ago!
For a long time, I was a hobbyist, photographing landscapes and city scenes and flowers. But then I had kids. And I wanted to take good pictures of them but wasn’t happy with my results. So I started watching a lot of online classes, whenever I was sitting down nursing a baby. And I improved my portrait skills a lot and learned how to edit. I improved enough that other people started hiring me to photograph their families (or for headshots–this is LA, after all!). And I enjoyed that. But I found that I was spending too many weekends away from my own family. And too many mornings and evenings editing images to meet deadlines instead of playing with my kids. And as an introvert, having several sessions in a week, trying to engage sometimes-reluctant subjects, could be exhausting. I needed to spend more time in the wilderness, for the sake of my mental health, so I shifted my focus (haha) back to landscape photography and started selling prints of my work. I can do quite a bit with my kids in tow, and we all get to enjoy beautiful places together. My approach has been two-fold. I run my photography website to share and sell prints of my work (www.sarahaphotography.com), and I write about our adventures, in hopes of inspiring other families to go adventuring, on www.kidswhohikela.com.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not! It took a while to find this path. And my kids are 2, 4, and 6, and my husband has a full-time job, while I am the primary caregiver for the kids. Sometimes I want to photograph something and just can’t because doing so would put my kids in danger. If my hubby isn’t with me, for example, I may not be able to hike to a mountaintop for a sunrise or sneak out of the tent at 3 AM to photograph the Milky Way. Bringing the kids with me is wonderful because I get to share amazing things with them, but it can be limiting as well. When you look at lists of great landscape photographers, you’ll find that most of those listed are men. And of the women (or if you specifically search for women), very few are mothers. I may miss a moment of perfect light because someone needs a nap, or has to use the bathroom.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sarah Ainsworth Photography – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a female photographer specializing in landscapes of the South Bay and national parks. My work tends to be vibrant and bold, and appropriate for large scale prints. I recently put together a panorama of the Point Vicente Lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes that could easily be printed at 8 feet long. I photograph at sunrise and sunset whenever I can, and try to get off the beaten path. And I do most of it while my kids are with me, teaching them to look for the light (or birds, always birds) as we go. They are learning to be good spotters; sometimes one of them will see something that I don’t (like a flock of pelicans coming in from behind me)!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am planning, over the next 11-12 years, to visit and photograph all the national parks in the continental US, and do more shows with my work. Maybe find gallery representation. I’m planning to do a lot more large-scale panoramic work, and would love to be an artist in residence at one of our national parks, kids in tow!
- Website: www.sarahaphotography.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Ainsworth Photography