February 3, 2023
Photography by Darren Sacks
Interview by Melanie Meggs
For Darren, photography is far more than just a hobby; it’s a way of life. From his childhood days spent with an old book of photos tucked under his arm to his current work capturing the beauty of the everyday, Darren has been on a lifelong journey in pursuit of capturing moments that will last forever.
It all began when he was a young boy, finding a book of photos and marveling at the beauty of what he saw. As he perused through the pages, something stirred in him - a passion for photography. Even then, Darren knew he wanted to freeze time and preserve memories that could be shared and admired for years to come. And so, in an effort to learn more about this art form, he began studying and experimenting, gradually honing his skill until he could finally call himself a photographer.
Today, Darren spends his days around central London, seeking out scenes and objects that are often overlooked and helping them to shine in a new light. By combining layers, reflections and creative use of shadow and light, he is able to transform ordinary scenes into striking works of art that draws in viewers. Through his work, Darren is able to share his passion for photography with the world, and continues to strive to find unique ways to capture moments. Join us as we explore Darren’s journey as a photographer.
“I enjoy using light and shadows, layers and vibrant colour to create my images and will usually spend time building and layering a scene once I find a composition that I think could be interesting.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH DARREN SACKS
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Hello Darren…welcome to The List! Let's start by telling us about yourself. What would you say first drew you to photography?
DARREN SACKS: Hi there, thanks for having me. I am originally from Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to London six years ago. I am a UX designer in London. I was initially drawn to photography because I liked being able to document moments that would otherwise be missed. I always remember having a camera with me and wanting to document moments while travelling.
TPL: How would you describe your photography, and what would you say you are always trying to achieve artistically?
DS: I enjoy using light and shadows, layers and vibrant colour to create my images and will usually spend time building and layering a scene once I find a composition that I think could be interesting. When I am taking photos I don't usually include a subjects’ face as the primary focus of a shot. Instead I will look to weave a human element into an abstract scene be that through silhouettes, shadows or some details. I think there is a paradox in my work because I prefer to shoot with longer lenses which quite often would simplify a frame and lead to not having many subjects or objects in one image. Yet, very often I enjoy creating layered, abstract works which have a certain complexity.
TPL: Could you tell us what living in London has inspired in your work? What special qualities unique to London influence your street and the way you portray your community?
DS: Moving to London really inspired me to start taking photos again. Being a foreigner in London, I still feel like a tourist in my own city. I think street photography really enables me to appreciate the smallest details that would often be overlooked.
TPL: When you take pictures, do you usually have a concept in mind of what you want to photograph, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both? Please describe your process.
DS: The only thing I know when I go photograph is the approximate area I will start for the day. The rest is totally unplanned, and that for me is one of the most enjoyable things - never knowing when or where I’ll get my next shot. I often joke that my directions around London are not great and they really should be as I spend hours and hours walking the streets, but I’m so absorbed in what’s going on around me, I often don’t know where I am. That’s something I really like about street photography, being in the middle of a really busy and noisy place, but being so focused on noticing light or moments that it almost becomes silent. I think there is something really powerful in that.
TPL: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer for you? What are some challenges that you have faced?
DS: Photography has taught me patience, sometimes I will revisit a place over time for a shot or stand in one place for a long time to capture that single image. The reward of capturing that moment is a great feeling. Recently, someone I took a photo of, found their image on Instagram and was really happy with it. That was also pretty cool. I have also managed to build a great network through Instagram, and engage with people from all over the world - which I really appreciate. A challenge - sometimes I’ve gone through periods where I’m not getting shots I like or I feel like I’m not growing as a photographer and I suppose it’s about being able to reflect and switch it up to stay motivated and move forward.
TPL: Is it impossible for you not to be constantly on the lookout for a moment to be captured?
DS: This is a great question - and I am sure all photographers can relate to this. I don’t think it’s possible. I was in Central London the other night without a camera for the first time in a long time and I felt like I could not switch off from being aware of what was going on around me or from looking for a shot.
Moving to London really inspired me to start taking photos again. Being a foreigner in London, I still feel like a tourist in my own city.
TPL: How do you manage a work/photography balance?
DS: I’m fortunate to have a good balance. In the Summer I try to shoot twice a week and in the Winter only once a week.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
DS: My favourite photographer and biggest inspiration is Saul Leiter. I’m fascinated by the way he constructed his images. His use of colour, light and layers is incredible. I also enjoy the work of Ernst Haas, William Eggleston, Alex Webb and Joel Meyerowitz to name a few.
TPL: If you could just choose one photographer to photograph alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
DS: It would have to be Saul Leiter. It would be incredible to be able to observe his process while he captured those legendary images. But also having the opportunity to be able to chat with him about his approach to life and photography would be excellent. Leiter was known for being extremely humble, not being a boastful person and always treating others with kindness and respect.
TPL: What was the first camera you ever held in your hand, brought to eye, and released a shutter on? What is the camera you use now and your preferred focal length? Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Is there anything on your wishlist?
DS: The first camera I held, brought to my eye and released a shutter on was my father’s Yashica FX-7 (I’m not sure there was any film in it - I may have been only 5 at the time but I always wanted to hold that camera and click the shutter). My first camera was a Nikon D90 which I still have. I currently shoot with Fujifilm. I have an X-Pro2 and X-H1 and my everyday lens is the 50mm F2. I do have a 55-200mm which I enjoy using for my layering and reflection work as it provides great flexibility and other options for getting a different perspective for abstract work. I am thinking about upgrading to a newer body for faster autofocus. The Fujifilm X-H2 with the new 56mm F1.2 looks like a great combination.
TPL: Are there any special projects that you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about? What are some of your photography goals? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
DS: I am currently working on some project ideas, but nothing formalised as yet. I’ll update my Instagram and website with news on these.
My main photography goal is to continue to grow and evolve as a photographer and continue to try to shoot things in my own way. Having an exhibition and printing a photobook are also part of the future plans.
In five years I hope to be able to look back to now and be happy with the growth I’ve made in my work.
TPL: “When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
DS: Play tennis, play the guitar and sing.”