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Meet Sarah Hadley of Sarah Hadley Photography

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

Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My father was a museum director and I grew up in the museum surrounded by incredible works of art by Michelangelo, Vermeer, Titian and John Singer Sargent. I was given a toy camera when I was 12 and when I was about 14 I took my first darkroom class and was hooked. I think many photographers of my generation talk about seeing that first image emerge in a tray of developer and of being mesmerized by the magic of photography. Even though I kept shooting through high school, I didn’t decide to pursue a career in photography until I was 25.

After college, I worked in museums and as a photojournalist for many years, but always continued to photograph and exhibit my own fine art projects. It was my series “Lost Venice” that earned me my first solo exhibition at a museum in 2009 and that really boosted my career. Since then I have created several new bodies of work, which I have exhibited in LA and abroad. I am currently working on a series about the female experience and the metamorphosis of getting older. These images are made of up several photographs and sometimes drawings and paintings, which are collaged together in camera, with Photoshop, and by hand.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
While it hasn’t all gone smoothly, I think all my jobs from working at the Biennale in Venice to running the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago have taught me something about the art world and how to be an artist.

And, as with any artistic career, there has been a lot of rejection along the way. I have been turned down from many exhibitions, grants and opportunities. I usually give myself the day to lick my wounds, and then I get back to work. You just have to accept it as part of the game.

Overall, I feel very fortunate to be able to have a job that I love and to be surrounded by the incredible artistic community in Los Angeles.

Please tell us about Sarah Hadley Photography.
Most of my work is autobiographical and has to do with revisiting and reimagining my past. I think as artists we accumulate memories and ideas and all that goes into the hopper when we start to work on a project. My Lost Venice series was focused on themes of death and impermanence, which were a way for me to deal with my father dying when I was in my mid-twenties. My recent work is more about aging, identity, memory and exploring the female psyche. I am a big fan of Rauschenberg, Matisse, Magritte and Man Ray and my images are intentionally otherworldly and surreal.

I painted in college and began photographing seriously and using Photoshop around 1994, so I think my familiarity with various tools and my knowledge of the art world has helped me a great deal. I use photographs from my own archive, as well as shoot new images and incorporate my paintings, drawings, cyanotypes and other mixed media in my work. I think this technique of blending many images and different mediums together sets my work apart.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I might have gotten an MFA at some point as it may have put me in a stronger position earlier in my career, but who knows. As it was, I worked as a photographer for many clients, newspaper editors and generally made my living doing a thousand different jobs with my camera, as well as worked in museums, and ran a photography festival. Photographing for other people taught me a lot about photography that I didn’t learn in school and running a festival gave me a crash course in business, but I struggled to find the time to create my own work. I have more time for that now, but still have to carve out whole days without distractions in order to make progress with my projects.

Overall I am happy with the way my life and career has turned out and really enjoy both the creative and the business side of art. I realize that every job I had gave me something that I could use, so I don’t know that I would have changed a thing.


  • My artwork sells for between $650-$1500 depending on the size and edition of the image.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Main photo: Jessica Sterling
All images © Sarah Hadley Photography

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