Sarah Zanon is an incredibly talented graphic design student and photographer. She has agreed to share with us her beautiful series of photographs taken with our well-loved Petzval Lens. Here’s an exclusive interview with her!
Armed with a camera, Sarah captures everything that inspires her with a camera and eloquently tells a story of self discovery, existence and freedom through a series of work titled The Fog Before The Flowers. This time, she has shot her series on Lomography’s Petzval Lens. Check out her other works!
Tell me more about yourself and how did you get involved in photography?
My name is Sarah Zanon and I am currently living in downtown Toronto, attending OCAD University, and going into my last year majoring in Graphic Design. I grew up in a small town, about an hour outside of Toronto, called Beamsville. I have always had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember. I started getting more serious about it when I was 15 and I bought my first DSLR, a Canon T1i. I began by doing small shoots with my friends and took a couple of high school photography courses. I instantly fell in love with the art and would shoot everything around me.
We loved your series “The Fog Before The Flowers”! Could you tell us more about this series?
This series was initially shot for a school project – and was actually made into a book, accompanied by a story I wrote that the shoot was based around. Exploring the themes of self-discovery, existence and freedom, I am following the internal battles of a girl who has been hit with some harsh realities and is questioning all of her existence. I shot the majority of this in the unfinished attic of my dad’s garage, to get the feeling of abandonment, and with my Petzval lens and Canon 5D Mark III.
What inspired you to shoot this?
My main inspiration came from a short film called ‘Leaning Towards Solace,’ directed by Floria Sigismondi, which is a visualizer for two songs by Sigur Rós. This film deals with similar themes of my story, and a quote from the film, “Don’t be afraid, love everything, fear only brings death to the soul,” really embodies what I am trying to portray by the end of the series. While brainstorming ideas and writing my story, I listened to Sigur Rós’ music on repeat. Their songs are so hauntingly beautiful and mysterious and it completely set the mood for the series. If I were to ever publish the book I created for my final project, I would definitely suggest every reader to listen to Sigur Rós while flipping through the pages.
Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
I am constantly absorbing inspiration from everywhere—whether it’s a song, or a movie or another artist’s work, or even something I see while walking through the city. I find inspiration in little things, and some of the time I’m not even entirely sure how I came up with an idea—but it’s just a collection of things I have derived from my surroundings.
You shot this on a Petzval Lens, how was your experience with this art lens?
The moment I received this lens I fell in love with it. I’ve been shooting with it for about a year now, and it is my go to lens for any artistic shoot that I do.
What was your favorite part of this lens?
My favourite part would definitely be the swirly bokeh effect—it creates such a magical, surreal atmosphere in each of my photos.
If you could photograph anyone in any place, where and who would it be?
This question is so tough! I actually have a list of people saved on my phone that I would like to photograph. I think, above all else, I would absolutely love to do a visual biography of Lana Del Rey—just follow her around with a camera for a few months and document her life. But if I had the chance to do just one shoot with her, I think I would want to do it on an open road in the desert—similar to the visuals in her music video ‘Ride’. I get a lot of my inspiration from her music, and I feel like we have such similar artistic visions.
What do you like about analog photography and how does it differ from digital?
I love the rush of shooting with film and trying out different types of analog cameras and pairing them with different films. I think my favourite film right now is Lomochrome Purple! I recently acquired a Rolleiflex—it’s my first medium format camera, and I am absolutely in love with it. I primarily shoot digital, but there’s something about the aesthetic of film that Photoshop just cannot replicate. Shooting with film feels like more of an art to me over digital. Although shooting digital is more practical, I think analog is overall just more exhilarating.
Do you have any advice for current or future users of the Petzval Lens?
Keep shooting! The lens can be extremely intimidating when you first receive it, and focusing can be a little tricky—but once you get the hang of it, this lens will hands down be your favourite accessory in your camera bag.
What else do you love to do beyond photography?
I love to write. It has always been a goal of mine to be a published writer—so maybe one day! I also used to competitively figure skate until I had to stop due to an injury a few years ago. Coming from a very science-oriented family, I feel like that’s where my artistic intuition developed. I still like to get back to the rink once in a while!