Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BEHIND THE LENS: Sarah Thomas, Cardiff, South Wales

We take you to South Wales today as we gaze at the lovely images from Sarah Thomas.  If only I were in South Wales!  But we are there in spirit for sure.  Check out the beautiful images that Sarah has captured, her seaside roots have melded into the spirit of her images.  Sarah's eye for design and creative touch blend in every photo.  Find out what questions we asked her that illicited the response about yellow snow - and the weirdest thing a customer has asked her to do!

Herewith, we reveal Sarah Thomas!

Your Name: Sarah Thomas
Your studio/business name: Sarah J. Thomas Photography
Location: Cardiff, South Wales, UK

Your Style

In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?
Most clients describe my photography as honest but the most frequent feedback is always about my patience, being able to work with the children to bring out their natural persona and ensure everyone has a good time. As a graphic designer I love strong lines, composition and bold colours. My images are not soft and fluffy but I suppose, neither am I!

Are you self-taught or classroom trained?
Both. I studied a degree in Graphic Design with a specialism in Photography at university a VERY long time ago. I do however feel that I have learnt more in the last 4 years than I ever did in the classroom.

How many years have you been a professional photographer?
I am now in my fourth year of business.

Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years?
As well as an 11 year old, I have a little boy who will be starting school next September and I am looking forward to taking my photography full-time. I am hoping to launch training and workshops very soon but I’d ultimately love a little boutique studio to call my own.  At the end of the day if I simply carry on doing what I love and meeting more fantastic people then I’ll be very happy.

Is there a photographer who inspires your style?  Who would that be?
So many in the US and Australia such as Shannon Sewell, Zoe Berkovic, Jinky Art, Kristen Cook to name but a few. In the UK? I have met so many photographers in the UK who not only inspire me with their amazing talent but their support and friendship. Check out Claire Penn, Kate Griffin (her recent Royal Wedding street photography was AMAZING!), Andrea Ellison (beautiful and quirky), Rosalind Hobley (the quality of her images is sublime) … I could go on forever.

Favorite location to take photos?
I love urban gritty backdrops but rarely get the opportunity to shoot there as I seem to photograph so many toddlers and babies. Can’t go wrong with the beach!

Favorite vacation spot?
I grew up by the seaside and still live at the coast. I adore the sea and can think of nothing better than taking my boys camping down to Gower in South Wales.

Your Business

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?
Although I chose not to follow photography after leaving university, I continued to take photographs. When pregnant with my second child 4 years ago I was offered redundancy. It was just the push I needed. I am so glad I waited to build my business as I now have such a wealth of experience to draw from previous careers and life in general.

What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?
I’ve never really advertised. I gain most of my business through word of mouth and referrals from past customers. This totally makes my job worth every second. I think the key to this is a strong identity (brand is key!), confidence in yourself and what you do and being yourself. At the end of the day people are not only buying your images, they are buying you.

What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you?
I was once asked to if I could Photoshop deceased relatives into an image that I’d taken.

Favorite print lab?
I use a local lab. I have managed to build up such a strong relationship with them and often stop for coffee. I would recommend this for those who can, as it’s an invaluable friendship.

Your Gear

Are you Canon or Nikon (or – other):

If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be?
My 50mm 1.4.

What brand bag do you carry your camera in?
This is a self confessed weakness of mine. I have lots but totally love my Yellow Jo Totes.

What gear would we find in your camera bag?
Nikon D300 (going full frame soon!), 50mm 1.4, 35mm 1.8, 24-70 2.8, SB-900 Speedlight, Bob my trusty mouse (he lives in my camera you know) and wet wipes!

Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan?
Natural light where possible but I have become friends with off camera flash recently and looking forward to using it for sessions when the drab UK weather kicks in.

Are you PC or Mac?
I am a self-confessed Mac-o-holic.

Your Tips and Tricks

What post processing tools do you use?
Just bought Lightroom 3 but am struggling to get my head around it. I’m a creature of habit and have a very regimented PS workflow.

Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg?
Always RAW.

Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?
Stop moaning that your stomach is too big, you aint seen nothing yet!

Best advice you would give a new photographer?
There are so many amazing photographers out there so go and have a look at what they do, be inspired but find your own voice. It’s not about kit (although kit is nice!). It’s all about composition & light but more importantly attitude. Crucial if you are photographing people – you’ve just got to like people. Simple.

What site do you use for your photography and why?
Bludomain. I have always found them very helpful. I am very picky about how things look – they have the templates that suit my style at a good price.

What Else Should We Know?

What was your worst photography experience?
My worst experience was trying to climb a little higher to get the shot at wedding as the ceremony was taking place by standing on a pipe in the church. That pipe wasn’t too sturdy and came crashing to the floor! Lets just say all of the eyes were on the photographer and not the bride! Needless to say – I’m not a wedding photographer.

What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?
I’m not too sure that I’m all that surprising. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.

And Just Because we want to know you, kindly fill in the blanks – thanks!

Three things I can’t live without….My children, Chocolate, and I am reluctant to say it but … Facebook. Ever so slightly addicted but have made some amazing friends who I would be lost without.

I wish I had more…..Time

The best thing about being a photographer is… the people I meet.

The most important lesson I ever learned was….Never eat yellow snow. No, I haven’t actually done it but seriously … DON’T!

My favorite time of day is…I’m an early bird thanks to my children but I function better in the early hours. To shoot? Golden hour without a doubt!

Click this forward!!


  1. Thanks so much for the feature! Very proud to say that since completing the interview I have become the proud parent to my third child - the Nikon D700! Did I say it wasn't about kit????

  2. Ah - I can vouch for the fact that Sarah Thomas is an ace photographer and that she doesn't just take support from her FB friends, she gives loads back. Beautiful photos all round, not just those on this post!

  3. Definitely second everything Boo said. Sarah's very talented and a great Flickr friend and supporter!


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