Photographer Jeremy Sachs Michaels has a body of images documenting life with his girlfriend, Lauren, over the past few years. Here he is in a short interview about his motivations to capture the intimacy of relationships.
Kim Sikora: Photographing someone so close to you, are there any boundaries surrounding moments that can be shared?
Jeremy Sachs-Michaels: There are boundaries, but not the kind that are imposed by her. Lauren trusts me and I photograph her constantly. I find that I impose the boundaries upon myself when it becomes editing time. I want to show her in certain ways and not in others. There are photographs of her that I’ve taken and absolutely love, but I don’t think anyone else will ever see them. A mentor once told me, “Just because somebody wants something from you as a photographer, it doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.” I think he was talking in terms of business, but I feel like it applies to my editing process. I can include nudie pics or things that are more lusty, or even trashy or dirty, but sometimes those things distract from the rest of the images. I love quiet subtlety.
KS: When you are shooting Lauren, are there specific moments you hope to capture? How do you decide which times are meaningful vs. not meaningful?
JSM: I usually don’t know until I see it. Often times we’ll be somewhere, or even home, and something about her and the light and what’s happening comes together and that make it meaningful. Other times I feel like something meaningful is happening and I take a picture of it and it doesn’t feel meaningful in the photograph. In some ways it’s a crap shoot. I spend lots of time looking at my photographs, as well as other people’s, and I have ideas about what I feel works and what doesn’t.
KS: What are your strategies in balancing your time for commercial vs. personal work?
JSM: This is something that I think is hard for me, but in the end always works out. Often times the personal work leads to commercial work. Lauren and I just shot a fashion lifestyle piece together. They hired me as the photographer and loved how I photograph her, so they hired her as the model. The answer to your question is that if I have “commercial” work that needs tending to, I tend to it. If I don’t have to work on that I do my personal work. All I need for most of the Lauren pictures is a camera. This is the farthest things from technical photography here. There’s no tricks. I just try to feel my way through the pictures. If it feels good I keep going.
KS: Also, are there specific photos in this group that have a story behind them?
JSM: All of these pictures have a story behind them.
We were snowshoeing last winter in Grand Teton. No one was around and we were walking on top of over 4 feet of snow. Lauren was showing off her walk and fell through and couldn’t get up. I couldn’t help pull her up because I would fall through as well, so I just took a picture instead.
The image with Lauren crying was right after my grandfather died. We went upstate to be with my family and on the drive she had lots of feelings. It was a bittersweet moment. She was sad and something sad had just happened, but at the same time she was crying about my grandfather, which in some way showed me that she had become part of my family and that made me happy.
The hand print is one that I took early one morning when I was leaving for a shoot before she woke up. I guess she’d slept on her hand and then rolled over while I was in the shower. I noticed this mark on her face while I was getting dressed. I think it’s both beautiful and quiet because she’s sleeping and the light, but the angry redness of the hand print is really shocking and unusual.