February 3, 2023
Photography by Darren Sacks
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Having loved photography since childhood, Darren Sacks reminisces about finding a book on photography and then carrying it around the house with him, “I was too young to read, but I was fascinated with the beautiful images so I would just read through the book over and over again. I've always loved the idea of being able to stop a moment in time and keep it forever.”
Predominantly photographing around central London, Darren finds the awesomeness in the everyday and the often overlooked scenes and objects. Using layers and reflection, shadows and light in his photography, Darren wants to show the frequently photographed places in a slightly different way.
“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.