sarah is the environmentalportraitist

Self-taught photographer, sarah bodri, focuses on landscapes and people in their natural environment.

Looped in by Maya Fuhr

I’m a self-taught photographer and artist specializing in portraiture & wedding photography; my personal art practice is more focused on landscape/ nature photography and experimental darkroom processes like chemigrams.

I did take a couple photography courses in high school after a parent gave me a camera but I wasn’t really 'allowed' to go to art school, which was probably for the best. Instead I majored in French Literature and Gender Studies at York in hopes of becoming a feminist and never working for the government like my parents did (lol). I’m now a professional photographer and story-teller, yeehaw. I’ve never really had a 9 to 5 (ok I did work in a Green Giant factory when I was 17), I was a house-cleaner for almost a decade and only recently went full time as a photographer which was terrifying but wonderful and fulfilling. So I guess Covid is a big part of how I got here, because it gave me a lot of time and space to re-evaluate what I was doing and charging, and forced me to stop doing the house-cleaning thing.

I got to where I am now by asking people around me a LOT of questions, asking myself a lot more, and signing up for workshops mainly at Gallery44 Center for Contemporary Photography. I was exposed to really wonderful people and programming there through exhibitions and workshops, and I’m now on the Board of Directors and a couple committees. Also many leaps of faith are required to do art as a business pursuit, apparently.

Anyway all that to say my main thing is environmental portraiture. I love going to peoples’ places and seeing them in their own context and photographing that.

In your opinion, what makes someone 'a creative'?

Ha ha, I personally don’t love the term ‘creative’ but I do like to talk about creativity. To me a creative person is someone who has a vision, or beliefs about the world, who sees the world in a very particular way – and who then reiterates or flips that via whatever means they choose. A creative person loves to - no - is totally compelled to complicate or re-assess that which we probably take for granted, really do a deep dive into whatever seemingly normal thing. They notice. Hard. I can’t stress that enough. A creative person (me, I think?) notices and is inspired/mystified by that which most people likely find unremarkable. Ideally creative people have meaningful, generative exchanges with others,  and are open to the world in a way many people are not, but maybe more than most other, less creative people, we need a lot of time to do absolutely nothing. I’m really interested in ‘creative/ artistic labour’ but maybe that’s another interview for another outlet!

What's one unexpected place where you find inspiration?

I don’t know, that’s tough? I feel like I’m 'inspired' by pretty much anything and everything - a guy in a suit sitting in a garden downtown talking on a cell phone, someone gesturing while they speak, a rock, a shadow, a joke, whatever. I don't think I expect to be inspired by anything in the first place – sometimes I go out to the desert or somewhere ‘inspiring’ and take zero photos or don’t feel inspired at all. I just feel. I think this is totally expected if you know me at all but my feelings are a huge source of inspiration.

It really depends who you’re asking, too. I don’t think 17 year old angsty/staunch environmentalist anti-capitalist Sarah would have expected to be so inspired by driving? Now I love it, and I take photos while I’m biking or driving but not looking through the camera; I mean I do this as safely as humanly possible with my eyes on the road, and let my camera catch whatever is rushing by it. I once fell backwards off of a log on the beach while holding a Mamiya C220 and the shutter depressed WHILE I was falling backward and I loved the silly blurry poorly composed photo I happened to take and I think that was like the most unexpected moment of inspiration, a time when I let go of all control (of image making).

What are you most passionate about?

Imagine I said Wordle? Hm. I think I’m passionate about a lot of things. Mostly getting to make beautiful things, and connecting with people through photography. I’m equally passionate about...Let’s see, other people’s dogs, resting, and everything I get to do when I’m not working (which, ironically, is now taking photos and feels a bit endless but for this I am also endlessly grateful). But yeah those things include making art, experimenting with my little chemigrams, enjoying the light in my room, spending time in nature and with friends, and I think I’m even becoming passionate about taking care of myself as I figure out new ways to do that. Oh also – very passionate about affect and understanding and the psychodynamics of gazing and relationality and oh the list goes on.

What's one piece of advice that changed your life?

I have a very hard time sticking to directions or deciding on things (thank you ADHD) so here’s a collection of life-changing advices:

1. It never hurts to ask

2. Say no ( I have a tattoo that says NOPE)

3. Be gentle with yourself

4. Charge more (I could spend days talking about this, oy)

But I maybe get the best advice from myself when other people ask me for it (answering other people’s questions can be illuminating for everyone) - but I somehow manage to never take this advice when I should.

What do you love most about being a creative [person]?

I added person because like I said, I’m just really not into the term ‘creative’. Maybe it’s a little ‘influencer-y’? Can we bring back ‘arteest’?? Kidding. Anyway: it’s beautiful and exciting and kind of a fucking rollercoaster and your creative sensibility/how you see the world is always there even if you’re not making work or aren’t especially 'inspired' for long periods. You get to be in community with people who maybe love the same weird stuff or whose brains work similarly to yours even if those things once felt or still do feel alienating. I find joy in things others might not because of how I perceive the world, how sensitive I am to it, and that’s something I love that also sometimes feels like a curse.

"I’m now a professional photographer and story-teller, yeehaw."

What do you wish more people knew about you?

Hmm, I’m very transparent so maybe I wish people knew a little less??? The 'I would be so mysterious if only I could STFU' meme comes to mind.

Actually it’s kind of fun telling people that I’m self-taught. You know, I really put my French lit & gender studies degree from York to work by becoming a self-employed housecleaner and occasional barista for the better part of 8 years, and then becoming a full time photographer. Like, what?

Also I wish that certain people *cough- editors- cough* knew that I want to shoot for magazines, like profile interesting people and projects *cough* too scared to email editors to pitch myself *cough*.

If you could create something to make the world a better place, what would that be?

Honestly I think there’s already too much stuff that exists so it’d have to be the opposite of creating. Like there’s so much toxic garbage on this floating rock that’s speeding up its decline that I wish I could muster up either a black hole for all the GARBAGE that we’ve created that’s probably gonna outlast us, or a machine that changes the minds of wealth hoarders (millionaires, billionaires etc) and convinces them to redistribute their assets. Oh, or what about a tool that allows us to communicate directly with our non-human friends?

What is your superpower?

My amazing ability to make decisions for & give great advice to everyone except myself!! Kidding! But also not kidding at all.

Maybe my amazing puns and love of wordplay, or my keen intuition and extreme sensitivity? My ability to help literally anyone feel at ease? My ADHD? Who knows. So powerful.

"I just feel. I think this is totally expected if you know me at all but my feelings are a huge source of inspiration."

Who is inspiring you
right now?

Roya DelSol

Producer, photographer, multi-hyphenate superstar in Toronto.

Producer, photographer, multi-hyphenate superstar in Toronto.

Hangama Amiri

Telling beautiful stories through masterful textile tableaux, worldwide.

Telling beautiful stories through masterful textile tableaux, worldwide.

Semhar Gide

Genius mathematician and chef, feeding & creating spaces for kin and recently opened a restaurant!

Genius mathematician and chef, feeding & creating spaces for kin and recently opened a restaurant!

Elena Yu

Textile and incredible weirdo performance artist friend based in CA – accepting commissions for amazing clothing, bags & woven pieces.

Textile and incredible weirdo performance artist friend based in CA – accepting commissions for amazing clothing, bags & woven pieces.

What are you loving right now?

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