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Behind The Lens: An Interview with Sarah Knoll

It was the first hot day of the year, an unseasonable 80 in the middle of April when Sarah Knoll greeted me in her vibrant floral sundress sporting a matching pair of floral print boots. We bonded over our mutual love and appreciation for cold brew (she told me she makes her own, i promptly when home and Googled how I could too), the beautiful sunshine, and the pains of working retail. Tucked away in a little coffee shop she told me about her photography, her most recent project, and her passions.

She’s been an artist her whole life, but she only found photography a little over a year ago. She’s self taught and she shoots and develops everything herself. While a majority of her work is centered around Albany’s underground music scene, I came across her while she was looking for people to shoot for her latest project. Interested in attempting to shed light to the dynamic ways gender roles and societal norms find their ways into our lives she posed the question “When do you feel the most feminine?” and photographed the results.

Get to know Sarah, her work, and her passions below.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

An outgoing and motivated artist who continuously questions the motivations of self and the world.

What is it that you are trying to communicate through your photographs?

In this series specifically, I’m attempting to challenge the traditionally definition of femininity by asking all different walks of life what makes them feel most feminine. That you do not need to identify with the female gender or sex to feel feminine. It is this sense of comfort that all feel.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I would say Sally Mann, Bob Greun, Gregory Crewdson, Uta Barth and Sophie Calle.  

Where do you find inspiration?

I don’t generally get inspired, I just mess around and make mistakes and try new things until I land on something that strikes me.

What do you love shooting?

Honestly, everything. I’ve been shooting music gigs for quite some time now. However, I just love how simple photography’s principles are. It’s capturing light reflected by different objects and subjects that you capture in a short span of time. It’s incredible.

How did you come up with the concept for this project?

I was raised with a very traditional sense of femininity, and growing up I slowly rejected that by being exposed to various definitions of what it means to be feminine. In the wake of our current climate, I decided to create my own new wave of femininity, one that doesn’t mean you need a vagina to feel feminine.

How would you define femininity?

A sense of comfort within the female gender traits and roles. One doesn’t need to adhere to this, the sense is fluid.

How do you think your definition of femininity has been influenced by our society/ cultural standards?

Unfortunately I still do feel like there is a stigma surrounded female sex organs and the female gender. Gender isn’t something solid and standard, it is something that is fluid. The unfortunate part is that our society still holds gender roles. Such as those who are masculine are thought to be physically strong, dominant, emotional conserved, etc. While women are thought to be delicate, weak and fragile. Those are only character traits, they do not define a sex. You can have different sex organs and identify with the opposing gender’s traits. Therefore I still feel as if I have a mix of traditional and progressive definitions of femininity but only because we still hold traditional values in our society.

Were there any themes you noticed in people’s definitions while you photographing for this series?

Sincere comfort in self and vulnerability to the camera.

+Find Her Here 

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