Seeing the world with photojournalist Sarah Arnould

Photography
Mar 23, 2020 by Monica Linzmeier
6 MIN

Photo courtesy of © Sarah Arnould 

Sarah Arnould is a French photojournalist from Bordeaux who has made a living covering what many of us spend our time dreaming about: travel, food, and crafts. At 31 years old, she has been photographing for 12 years and has been working full time in the profession for 5 years. 

During her first trip abroad to Vietnam at 18 years old, she became interested in the art form for the first time, it was ‘a revelation in terms of travel photography,’ which she practiced for a while before turning to other subjects. 

So we got together with Sarah to ask her a few questions about her craft. Here’s what we learned. 

This is part of a series of photographer interviews, to discover more articles and interviews, just click here! 

Sarah Arnould, Highlands, Scotland

Photo courtesy of © Sarah Arnould 

As a travel photographer, Sarah has a diverse portfolio of beautiful places and a talent for sharing the feeling of a location like in the above photo taken in the Highlands of Scotland. Even if for us spectators her style seems well defined, she has a hard time defining it herself: “It’s not an easy question! I would say that my style is quite bucolic and intimate, natural and pastel all the while focused on travel and nature.”

One of the beautiful things about her work is that it feels authentic, which might be attributed to the fact that she prefers to shoot what is available without too much prior preparation. 

I'm pretty much on the spot. I prepare a little bit but there can always be good or bad surprises so I always shoot by feel.

Sarah has drawn inspiration from the photographer Saul Leiter, but also from more classic art forms. She loves the intimate atmosphere found in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawk, the famous 1942 oil on canvas painting of a dinner late at night. We think it shows in her work as well: 

Sarah Arnould, California Gas station

Photo courtesy of © Sarah Arnould 

Traveling for a living 

From taking photos of goats in Petra, Jordan, to capturing the American southwest, Sarah has covered a lot of ground in her work. And as a full-time photographer, Sarah has established a clear way of working. 

While every assignment and client is different, when she does prepare it usually starts with a mood board in order to be in sync with her client. She makes sure to get the necessary photos and then if there’s time, she’ll take bonus photos where she expresses her creativity a little more. 

 

Sometimes, however, shoots end up being a little bit more complicated than expected. For example, when she did an assignment for a responsible fishing label (MSC)...

I spent two days in the middle of the North Sea and got terribly seasick. The heavy swell and the smell of fuel and fish made me sicker than ever. The fact that my eye was glued to my camera didn't help but I still managed to get out a nice series of pictures. A real feat!

Sarah Arnould, Highland Cow 

Photo courtesy of © Sarah Arnould 

The influence of Social Media 

She has built a solid fanbase through her beautifully curated Instagram feed, with people eager to see photos she has posted online. 

While many of her shots were taken on the spot, she has created work specifically for social media and she knows the impact it has on viewers and artists alike:  

Every day we are "overwhelmed" by thousands of images on social networks. We need to be able to sort out what is important in order to be inspired without copying. 

And she has advice for those trying to build an audience and improve their photographic work: listen, be patient, observe the things around you, follow your instincts and: 

"Don't give up at the smallest refusal and the slightest disappointment. Be patient and don't cheat, especially with social networks." 

Sarah Arnould, Joshua Tree laundry shop

Photo courtesy of © Sarah Arnould 

Learning to fail 

One thing she has learned in the past 12 years is that failure is part of being a photographer. 

“It allows you to learn to keep going without giving up, to move forward to reach your goal.” 

On one assignment she remembers that she left her batteries behind during a shoot for a client and only realized when she turned on the camera. 

“In that moment you see them in your head exactly where they are placed on your desk ... It's extremely embarrassing. I think it's a recurring failure among photographers.”

On the other hand, however, she feels that she has also succeeded in a great way just by being able to make a living from her work. 

Every day I meet different people, and every day I photograph different subjects. I never get bored and I am very happy doing what I do.

And when we asked her if there was one thing not to forget when going on a shoot… well

“Batteries and memory cards…” 

Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram and check out her portfolio page

And if you enjoyed reading about Sarah’s travel photography, be sure to read more about wildlife photographer Sebastián Di Doménico or about Vincent N Van’s transition from video to photo.  

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