BEHIND THE LENS | SAGE EAST
Sage East is a bicoastal freelance photographer splitting her time and projects between NY and LA. Fascinated by the human spirit, self-identity, and emotional connection through photography, her work reflects her clear purpose to show the unseen. Each project is taken on with the intent of having her subjects feel seen. Her masterful manipulation of colour, light and composition are trademarks of her rich storytelling.
When and why did you first pick up a camera and start taking photos?
What first drew me to photography was my desire to help enhance my twin brother’s modelling portfolio, so I had quite selfless intentions in my pursuit. I was an amateur in every aspect of the word, but I unearthed my passion and honed my talent after spending hours learning about the technical side and tapping into a more artistic part of myself. I didn’t consider myself particularly ‘creative’ – I just thought I had a good eye. Over time I began to love the freedom that came along with photography, and eventually started appreciating it as an art form, and myself, as an artist. I found my stride in portraits and was constantly inspired to go deeper emotionally with my imagery.
What do you enjoy most and least about life as a photographer?
There’s very little for me to dislike about photography if I’m being honest. I owe the discovery of my talent, my voice, and my vision a great deal to photography. This medium has afforded me the opportunity to meet new people, visit new places, but above all else, to tell new stories. If I needed to pick one frustration, it’s the moments when I wish I had a camera in my hand to capture something happening right in front of me and I don’t. But those moments are fleeting, and I’m often brought back to what I love the most about it: my ability to feel connected to my subjects and create an environment where they feel they can be vulnerable and free.
What type of scene/scenario/moment/person/thing always makes you wish you had a camera in your hand?
The thing that makes me long for a camera the most is whenever I see a group of people bonding, or someone in their own element not necessarily interacting with what’s around them, like they’re having a main character moment. You can always tell that there’s something deeper happening in their mind, and I always wish I had the opportunity to capture that in real time.
How do you see your role Behind The Lens – as a neutral observer trying to capture moments as they are, or as a creative composer shaping a narrative/expression?
It’s a little bit of both – I assume both the role of a neutral observer waiting for the right moments as well as a composer directing the narrative when the situation calls for it. I’ll start by carefully crafting the set up in advance and then waiting for the moment, the shot, to come to me. Sometimes this requires me to step away from providing guidance for a moment and then when I return, they’re now in that special moment that was created for them. Whether that’s them sitting in a chair looking for something to happen, staring pensively at the floor, laughing at something nearby, or stretching with their eyes closed – my goal is to stay aware and ready by always anticipating that genuine moment that’s around the corner. It’s a combination of preparation meets opportunity.
What is the situation/story in your selection of pictures?
This body of work is another example of my admiration for portraits. My purpose was to capture my subject in a way that makes them feel relaxed, safe, and seen even in a world where there’s so much chaos happening.
What was your favourite thing about the Leica camera you used for the project?
My favourite thing by far was the contrast and sharpness of the Leica camera. Occasionally, my work leans more moody since I’m crafting a sense of emotion and feeling in every piece I produce. It was great to have those settings available to me and built into one camera.
Sunglasses – functional accessory or fashion statement? What is your preferred style of shades?
Absolutely a fashion statement! I love many pairs, but my preferred style would be something classic and versatile, like a nice rounded gold frame.
Discover the current MYKITA | LEICA collection and find out more about the collaboration.