INTERVIEW: FIONA CHRISTENSEN
PHOTOGRAPHER: SARAH M WANG
Archetype: Tell us something about yourself in one sentence.
Sarah M Wang: I’m half Swiss half South African with an Asian sounding surname that is actually Scandinavian.
A: How old do you feel?
SMW: I would say between 19 and 21.
A: Do you study photography or was it a hobby that developed into what it is today?
SMW: I honestly can’t remember exactly when I started getting into photography, the concept of photography was always fascinating to me. When I was 16 I got my first two cameras (one film and one digital). In fact, on the same day that I went to buy my digital camera, my granddad casually mentioned that he had one of those ‘old things’ lying around and gave me his old film camera with a decent amount of equipment – major win! From there on I read a lot of books and watched a load of YouTube tutorials. At the moment I’m studying Corporate Communication, so photography is a side hobby/small business that I have going on. I really enjoy it and I guess I’ll just have to see where it goes from here.
“We live in a world where we’re so used to getting things/results instantly. It’s good to get some grounding and remember the necessary steps to get from A to B.” – Sarah M Wang
A: You take photos in both analogue and digital, do you have a favourite format of photography?
SMW: It’s difficult to say, actually. I’ve never felt like I preferred one over the other. I definitely view analogue as a more unique method and I enjoy experimenting with different types of film, but at the same time, digital has its own unique perks. I look forward to experimenting a bit more with both in the future
A: We love the nostalgia that is present in film photography and your photos have captured this so well. Is this one of the reasons why you pursue film?
SMW: Definitely! I got into film not really knowing what to expect, and not knowing what I was doing. After a fair amount of trial and error, I began to see the benefits of all the extra time and effort that is put into film. One of the major benefits is the look and feel/nostalgia of it. One of my favourite things about film is the unpredictability. Film requires you to slow down and think about all the contributing aspects of the photo you’re about to take. It adds more appreciation and excitement to the end result.
A: What inspires you in your work?
SMW: I often find myself on Pinterest or trolling through a variety of blogs. I love looking at food and travel blogs as well as the work of other artists and people of different professions. I watch a decent amount of documentaries and I love reading biographies, even if the people are in completely different fields of work. We live in a world where we’re so used to getting things/results instantly. It’s good to get some grounding and remember the necessary steps to get from A to B. Dedication and commitment are such rare qualities these days, so I really admire people who still hold those attributes, and love seeing how they apply them to their lives and their work.
A: What equipment do you use?
SMW: At the moment I’m using a Canon 500D (waiting for the day I can upgrade) with a 50mm 1.4 and my Canon AE-1 with a 50mm or wide angle for film. In the past when I’ve done events, I’ve borrowed a friend’s Nikon D3 with a 50mm 1.4. But that depends on the event or shoot.
A: We see you bake and cook a lot and capture the process in mouth-watering photos, is this a passion of yours?
SMW: Indeed, it is! I really love food. Baking has actually become one of the side businesses that I have going on. My mom is from Switzerland and she makes amazing food of all kinds. I learnt most of my baking skills from watching her and the BBC food channel. I could spend hours just looking through food blogs and Instagram accounts and would love to get more into it myself.
A: If you could do a photo shoot of anyone, who would it be?
SMW: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey or Alexa Chung, mostly because of the conversations we could have in-between shoots.
A: You recently did a band profile shoot of MT Seas, is this something (taking band shots) you would like to get into?
SMW: Doing the shoot for MT Seas was the first band shoot I’ve ever done, and it was rather easy being that the band is made up of my brother and two of my friends. So it was really chilled. I would say that I’m a bit more drawn to food, wildlife and travel photography, mostly because it’s what I know and I’m comfortable with it. However, I would love to try out new forms of photography in the future to gain a broader perspective.
A: If everything was one colour, what would you choose?
SMW: It depends if there were different tones. But, I’d probably have to say grey, and hopefully everything would end up looking like an old school black and white movie.
A: Any favourite local hangouts?
SMW: Pietermaritzburg isn’t really known for being a ‘hangout’ kind of place, so growing up my friends and I had to get creative. At some point, all of our homes have been used as venues for gigs, bonfires and dinner parties. Now that we’re older and a few of us have cars, it helps being situated between the midlands meander and the coast, so we never really run out of new places to try out (unless we’re broke). It’s a bit out the way, but one of my favourites is The Blueberry Café on the Midlands Meander or pretty much anywhere in the Midlands really.
A: What is your favourite recipe to make for friends?
SMW: Cupcakes go down really well. There’s this one recipe that has made quite an impression over the years: ‘Double dark chocolate caramel cupcake’. It’s a chocolate cupcake stuffed with caramel, topped with dark chocolate ganache and sprinkled with more chocolate. It’s pretty much a fool proof combination.
A: Any local bands to recommend?
SMW: Obviously I have to do an obligatory shout out to MT Seas. Their music really is so good, and I promise I’m not just being biased. Eden Myrrh recently moved to Cape Town from Pietermaritzburg and she just put up an album on NoiseTrade. I’d definitely keep an eye out for her, plus her sense of fashion is on point.