All entrepreneurs are known for their creativity, but over the past several weeks they have been forced to search deep down for more innovation than they ever realized they possessed. But for professional creatives like photographer Sarah Marcella - someone who literally curates art for a living - finding ways to continue working during a time of quarantine was a bit more of a challenge.
"This is why I love Alexandria. There is a passion for small business unlike anywhere else. The support and respect for one another inspires me daily." - Sarah Marcella
While working as the Creative Director and Photography of Stylebook™ in 2015, Sarah had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most influential business women in the Alexandria area. Their grit, dedication, and community outreach showed her how our community thrives on small businesses. “This is why I love Alexandria. There is a passion for small business unlike anywhere else. The support and respect for one another inspires me daily.” It was from Sarah’s relationship with Old Town businesses like The Enchanted Florist, The Shoe Hive, Mint Condition, and TSALT that Sarah Marcella Creative was eventually born.
“Before the heath crisis began, I was shooting 8-12 shoots per week and my busiest weeks had over 20 shoots. There was rarely a day that I wasn't prancing around with a smile on my face, camera in hand, shooting everything from portraits to fitness.” An extrovert through and through, Sarah thrives on working with others from behind the camera. But what does a photographer do when her clients are forced to close their doors and social distancing is being practiced? For Sarah, the choice was simple.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Sarah comes from a long line of photographers and has learned from them, as well as from her own experiences, that there will be times when you're just not feeling inspired or motivated and that’s okay. It is in those moments that being kind to yourself is key. “Just allow yourself to know that whatever you're feeling is valid, whatever your situation may be.” The COVID-19 pandemic found Sarah and many photographers like her being forced to take a break from the profession they love so much. Finding new creative outlets to pass the time is what helped Sarah to eventually find her way back. “If you're looking to create but having trouble getting started, try what I did. The first few weeks I didn’t do any photography at all, rather, I started wood-burning. I started creating in a way I haven’t in years. Then I started making friendship bracelets. Next, I moved to learning macramé. Once I exhausted learning new hobbies, I found myself back behind the camera.”
For someone who spends at least six days a week surrounded by people, Sarah decided to use the quarantine as a chance to get to know a new group of individuals who have inspired her over the years… but they may not be the type of people you would expect. “I decided that I wanted to recreate historical portraits, but instead of trying to recreate them to look the same, I focused on creating a satirical series that would also express different aspects of my own personality.” Using a camera with wifi built in and a mobile device to control the shutter, Sarah was able to step outside of her comfort zone by not just being the photographer, but also the model. “Overall, this project has, above all else, been a self-exploration. As someone who has struggled with body-conscious issues as well as overanalyzing flaws, this has really forced me to see the positives in my body. I’m not one to enjoy being in front of the camera. I get anxious and frustrated when I see portraits of myself. However, seeing my unedited self and nitpicking through hundreds of photographs to find the right one has brought me on a journey of self-love. It's pretty powerful and I challenge everyone to do the same during this time. We all deserve extra love right now.”
Sarah began by stepping into the role of Girl with the Stud Necklace, based on the famous oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer entitled, Girl with The Pearl Earring. “I wanted to capture the innocence and calm emotion behind the original artwork with a juxtaposition of my punk rock vibe.” Other creations from this project included American Goth, which took two hours of hair and makeup to prepare for and Quarantine Couture, which was shot with only eight rolls of toilet paper in various placements but then edited back into the photograph to create the beautiful illusion. “Even with my disclaimer, many people thought I actually owned that much TP!” So many of Sarah's followers were interested in this piece that she eventually released a behind the scenes video on her website.
"We all deserve a little extra love right now." - Sarah Marcella
A combination of time, talent, the right equipment, and a larger than life imagination not only helped Sarah through a difficult time, but brought joy to so many in Alexandria as they sat on the edge of their seats waiting to see what historical figure they’d get to meet next! “This project has been a way for me to keep myself sane by laughing through the pain.”
Sarah wants to encourage all of her fellow photographers to use this unique time to take self-portraits. “You’re the easiest subject to experiment with - there's no judgement! Play with lighting, find your angles and try different poses. When you can finally shoot others again, you'll thank yourself for taking this time to practice.”
Sarah Marcella Creative | www.SarahMarcellaCreative.com
Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Sarah Marcella | As published in the May 2020 Issue of VIP Alexandria Magazine