I grew up in Shelburne, Vermont, and lived on a Morgan horse farm for 18 years. My interest in photography really began in my father’s darkroom, helping him print photos of our horses. We had a breeding farm, so we were always photographing the horses for advertising. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, where I continued taking courses in photography, I made the Alaskan wilderness my home for two years. It was during that adventure that I decided to pursue photography full time, then returned to Maine to attend the Maine Photographic Workshop’s residency program. I was in Rockport, Maine, for 1 1/2 years, immersed in photography. My fate was sealed. I returned to Vermont for a year to work as a black and white printer and then returned to Portland, Maine, to work as an assistant in a photography studio. I worked in that studio for two years and later became a freelance assistant while I was developing and growing my own photography business. I have remained in Maine for almost 30 years. I have had the best of both worlds, living near the coast of Maine and having my family in the mountains of Vermont, two areas which have provided me with endless inspiration.
DESCRIBE YOUR EQUIPMENT.
Before the digital age, I shot primarily with a Hasselblad film camera. I have always liked the square format, and the quality of the Zeiss lenses is incredible. Having a larger transparency made a big difference, and it was much easier to carry around than a 4×5 camera; it was much more versatile. I have always shot with Nikons, from my 35mm film days to present. I currently shoot with a Nikon D800. It has been a good, reliable camera for me, shooting both landscapes and lifestyle. My primary lenses are the 80-200mm zoom and the 12-35mm. I have always used a gitzo tripod. My primary tripod now is a gitzo carbon fiber.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Nature and the outdoors have always inspired me and my work. I was outside constantly when I was growing up. Living in the midst of the amazing landscapes of the west coast and then Alaska, I realized that photography was the perfect way to express how I felt. When I started out, Ansel Adams, David Muench, Eliot Porter and Joel Meyerowitz were probably my biggest inspirations. I spent hours upon hours in galleries, looking at books of their work and going to museums. With the advent of the internet, there is an abundance of visual inspiration available. It is almost overwhelming at times, although there are many contemporary photographers who continue to inspire me. I have started painting in recent years, and have been visually inspired by painters in my photographic life as well. Edward Hopper, George Bellows, Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth, Connie Hayes, Fairfield Porter, Rockwell Kent, and Robert Henri, to name a few. I have also learned that while it is important to look and to be inspired by others, it is also important to not compare yourself, to work to find your own voice. Baxter State Park in Maine and Smugglers Notch in Stowe, Vermont, continue to be two of my favorite locations to photograph in the fall, as evidenced in many of my favorite landscapes shown here.
See more of Sara’s work at saragray.com.
The New England Landscape | Featured Photographer Sara Gray
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.