Isaac Sachs

Where are you from/based now?

I'm originally from Oakland, California, and I recently moved to Portland, Oregon after eight years in the Midwest.

What is your background in Photography? What got you started?

When I was a little kid, perhaps four or five, my parents gave me a toy camera. I remember being really excited about being able to capture specific moments as I saw them - at the time I had a mild obsession with finding ways to lengthen the persistence of memory. I quit taking pictures for a while after a bad experience in which I wasn't sure if I'd loaded my film properly and ended up exposing the entire roll to daylight. In high school I picked it up again when I took photography classes in which I used a traditional black & white darkroom, and I was thrilled by the whole process of being able to take an image all the way from exposure to print. Aside from the two high school classes I took, I have no formal training. The Internet has made it a lot easier to find information - there's a lot of things I was able to read about or even watch videos of instead of having to figure them out by trial and error.

What equipment do you use?

Most of my recent work was made using my Chamonix 4x5 field camera. I also sometimes use a Mamiya RZ67, an Olympus XA, and a Canon 5D Mark II. I use whatever makes sense for the picture I want and the circumstances in which I'm taking it. I almost decided not to take the 4x5 to Iceland when I went last year because I thought it might be too cumbersome for a trip in which I wanted to be as mobile as possible. In the end I decided the possibilities outweighed the inconveniences, and I'm glad I did, because the result was very rewarding.

What are your feelings on Film Vs Digital?

Film and digital sensors are just tools that we use to carry out our vision. It doesn't matter what tools you use as long as you get the end result you want. All you need for photography is a light-sensitive surface; in some cases you don't even need a light-proof box.

I usually choose film, but that's only because the results I get from film are the ones that best suit my vision, and I appreciate the slow, deliberative nature of working with sheet film. I find the idea of restricting myself to one or the other medium silly, to be honest - there are advantages and disadvantages to every method.

Do you have a creative process? Are your shots planned or spontaneous?

The best shots, for me, are a result of both planning and spontaneity. Every photograph is the result of a particular arrangement in time and space, but a lot of planning can go into being prepared to capture that particular moment. I often have ideas in mind about subjects, about framing or spatial relationships, and about light. Where the spontaneity comes in is in finding the right combination of those things to make a photograph that says something to me.

Who or what inspires you?

On a daily basis, my inspirations are numerous. The world is a beautiful, ever-changing place, and there's beauty even in places you don't expect to find it. Living in the city gives me constant opportunities to explore the relationship between the natural and the human-constructed landscape.

Often the best way to find new things to photograph is to go out and find them. I also like to browse flickr to expand my visual vocabulary, and I like to talk about photography with people who share my interests, like my friend Lucas DeShazer and my girlfriend Amy Santee.

Is there a particular photographer, site, set of images or a photo book that you keep coming back to for inspiration?

In 2004 or 2005, I saw prints from Alec Soth's "Sleeping by the Mississippi" and while not realizing at the time how influential they were to my later work, they really opened my eyes to the narrative possibilities of a set of photographs. Later I also discovered Todd Hido, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld, and Ed Ruscha, all of whom have had a tremendous influence on my conception of the urban landscape. Many of the photographers you've previously interviewed have also influenced me with their vision - among others, Patrick Joust, Lam Pok Yin, Jordi Huisman, and Sander Meisner.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

Not at the moment, given how recently I've moved to Portland. I also have a huge backlog of film from the second half of 2012 that I need to finish scanning. I've got a lot of ideas floating around, but I definitely intend on continuing to explore the themes in my recent work, especially with regards to how urban space evolves, and how artificial light fills that space.

1 comment:

  1. Great work, I’ve just sold all my 8x10 gear, and was deciding or trying to decide on a medium format camera, I saw a photo, a landscape , it was yours and I said , whatever that is I’ll get it. It was a 45!
    So not sure which one, chamionix or....., but I a, planning a trip to Iceland , and think maybe that’s the go. It’s quite possible a medium is good as well, but backpacking is a weight issue , oh no. I’m clearly still a bit confused! But I think you may have helped me. So thanks