Interview: Akin with Sarah Müller.
This week we caught up with Sarah Müller, a half Swiss, half Guatemalan photographer travelling the world. Growing up, Sarah’s Dad worked in the Swiss embassy so she grew up in six different countries.
We chatted with Sarah about the adventures she documents, her love of travel and music,and her many tattoos.
When did you get into photography?
I got into it for the first time when I was about 11. I had a certain curiosity from a young age; my parents had analog cameras, and my Mom had this really cool Polaroid camera, and I was fascinated by how it worked. We were in Switzerland at the time, living next to a huge sunflower field. The flowers would bloom in the summer, and I would spend hours out there. I wanted to find a way to immortalize it because autumn and winter would come and the flowers would go away, and I thought that was so sad.
I used my mom’s analog camera and shot a roll, but the entire roll came out black. I confessed to my Mom, and she told me how to use it.
I saved my money from delivering papers for music shows and bought my first camera. I got really into the music scene when I moved to Guatemala, and my friends in bands would ask me to take their pictures. That’s what really started it for me.
Your photos have a really timeless feel; looking at them you cannot quite decide if the photo was taken yesterday or 50 years ago. Is that something you are deliberate about?
Wow, I have a huge smile on my face now that you mentioned that! I feel really flattered. When you start out you have to define your style, and that can take decades; I definitely want to go for the timeless feel. My photography is a reflection of how I see life. The way I feel about time is that it can be so ephemeral; it’s fleeting and goes by so quickly and other times it’s completely non-existent. I aim for the non-existent aspect.
Can you give us a little insight into the creative process behind your photography?
99% of my pictures are completely spontaneous. Sometimes I will come across an amazing place and the weather or light or something is completely out of place, so I will occasionally revisit those places to get a shot if I have time. But most of the time it’s just me going out with friends on adventures and just documenting life.
Other than photography what do you do to fuel creativity?
This might sound strange but I will absorb anything but photography for inspiration. Music is a huge part–I am also really into movies. Recently I have really gotten into dance, contemporary dance. There is just something so, so, so different about dance. It’s like a whole different world that I enjoy.
Who are you listening to right now?
I am obsessed with Patrick Watson, and I am also currently listening to this jazz compilation CD that one of my friends randomly ran over with his car. It’s like jazz and blues music from the 60s and 70s; it’s awesome.
Your Instagram profile says ‘homesick.’ Where is home?
Interesting… lots of people notice that, but nobody has ever asked me that. I actually also have “homesick” tattooed on my feet. There is no such place I have found which fits within the concept of home, at least not yet. So it’s kind of contradictive, which I guess is life. There was a quote from an Egyptian author who said something along the lines of ‘home is where you cease to run away.’
I feel myself constantly trying to escape from my reality or whatever problems I am facing, but there are certain moments where time ceases to exist. You take a breath and say, ‘This is life. This is happening right now, and I’m fine.’ And I think that’s what home feels like.
You are very interactive with your Instagram followers; is that important to you?
Definitely. Instagram is all about community. It’s a social platform, so it’s important to have some sort of relationship with the people you follow or who follow you.
Your tumblr. is titled the B-Sides; what’s the story behind that?
Like the records back in the day, the b-sides were intended to be for the stuff that’s not quite as good, but you still want to get it out there somewhere. But my tumblr. became much more important than I intended it to be. It’s a whole different outlook for me. I’m more careful with what I load onto Instagram, but tumblr. is where I can express myself however I want to.
Speaking of the ‘homesick’ tattoo on your foot, how many tattoos do you have?
Not enough! I honestly haven’t counted them but I think I have around 30.
My first one was a key on my forearm and my favorite is a mandala on my right arm by a Swiss tattoo artist that I met over tumblr. He has amazing technique.
Where are you going next?
I am about to head to Semuc Champey, these little waterfalls in the north of Guatemala. Bolivia is on the top of my bucket list; they have the biggest salt flats in the world and this red lake. I’d also like to go to Iceland, and New Zealand, and Zimbabwe, yes!
Do you have a personal favorite photo you have taken?
I don’t think I have ever really thought about that. I feel like I fall more in love with the photos I take in my own life—the ones I never actually take with the camera.