Interview | Sarah Blard

French singer-songwriter & photographer, Sarah Blard, uses her musical influences to develop a subconscious emotion within her work that captivates the viewer, often titling her work uniquely according to the musical pieces and thoughts that inspire her creative process. Her work explores a world of dreams, serenity and beauty, depicting vast landscapes and extraordinary scenery. 


Who are your influences? How did they affect your thinking and creative process?

Music is definitely my main influence. The two arts are so connected for me: images and emotions come to mind whenever I listen to music. I’m constantly listening to it, singing or writing songs. It is also an integral part of my creative process. I always have music on when I am at my laptop, scanning film, selecting images, and doing post-process.

I can’t possibly list all the bands that influence me, but lately I’ve been listening to Portishead (forever), Thee Oh Sees, Alela Diane, M83, Happy Mondays, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and many more. One of the main reasons I love to shoot with film is that I’m quite a nervous person, so analogue photography is a way for me to slow down into the creative process and think about how I want to take my photo. I am still refining my art, and I don’t think that will ever stop. I think it is essential to find your identity in the art you create. Every artist deserves to find his or her own voice, and to be as authentic as possible in their creativity.


How do you come across the places that you’re photographing? Do you stumble across them or are you actively looking for the places to visit?

As far as landscapes go, I don’t like to plan out where I’m going to photograph. I love to just travel and walk in wild places for hours and capture what’s there. I’m a really intuitive person, and not good at all at planning things! I just feel it, emotions rise, and I decide to shoot. Sometimes you just feel good or lost or confused or moved when you are in a place, either with someone or by yourself, and you don’t always understand why. That’s what I try to explore and understand through photography.


Do you have a connection to the locations in your landscape photographs?

When I started photography, and for many years, I always had a connection with the landscapes I was photographing. I was taking a picture as a way to remember a specific place or feeling. But I’ve been moving towards a different approach in recent years. The connection with the particular place is less strong, but the imagination and subconscious are more present. This is something I love about analogue photography: the time gap between the moment you take the picture and the moment you re-discover your photo when you scan it. And you go through a whole process of remembering what happened there and how you felt.


Your work seems to have an almost romantic, peaceful element yet simultaneously shocking and exciting. Is that intentional?

It’s true. Even if I regard nature in a poetic way, I am also drawn to the violent, powerful and unexpected aspects of this planet. This is part of its beauty. It’s a force that can scare you and make you feel very small. There is something so beautiful about that power, that surprising and intense nature. I also use dreams, the subconscious and the imagination since they remove all limits on exploring and questioning this world. Something magical about photography is the way that viewers have their own interpretations, feelings and emotions. And this is where the photo doesn’t belong to me anymore, but to the viewers themselves.


Are there any political forces behind your work?

Not intentionally. A lot of my own personal values are inevitably in my work, since you always put a lot of yourself into your photos. There is definitely a clear respect for the environment, an awareness of global warming, and themes of gender equality. But there is no particular political ideology driving my photos at the moment. That may evolve, but it is not the case now.


I noticed that in one of your images featuring a factory you stated “ugliness on earth. Why are we breathing this?” Are environmental factors a strong influence in your work as well as the beauty of landscape and nature?

When I started doing photography, many years ago, environmental themes did not appear so often in my work. But as I’ve travelled and had a chance to discover incredible wild places, I’ve gradually became more aware of and engaged in environmental issues. When I was posting that photo of the factory, I was, of course, revealing more of the values that surround my work. Nature is my main protagonist at the moment so it would be difficult for me to not be very sensitive to environmental issues, pollution and global warming. So, yeah it’s definitely becoming a strong influence.


In your photographs that feature female nudes, are you striving to achieve the same bodily beauty that resonates with the beauty of the landscape?

I hadn’t thought of intentionally achieving the same aesthetic. But there are similarities, yes. The fact that I am intrigued as much by the romantic, as by the strong and mysterious aspect of bodies. I’m drawn to how we explore ourselves as human creatures on this earth through our range of emotions, aloneness, fear, joy, freedom, and how the body expresses that. With body photographs, it usually starts from an idea or project I’ve been thinking about for while. It is a different approach than for my landscape photography.


What inspires the unique captions paired with your work?

The captions usually come from my writing, or my thoughts, or from songs that I am writing. Sometimes, I use quotes that resonate with the photo at the moment when I am posting them. Since I love writing songs, I always associate words with melodies. In the same way, my mind also connects images with melodies. So the three are really inextricably linked for me: photography, music and song.