Sarah Haimes ’15 first became interested in photography when she was in eighth grade. One lazy summer afternoon in the country, her mother suggested she get up, go outside, and do something.
“I took my father’s point-and-shoot camera and I went around taking pictures of my mom’s flowers,” said Haimes.
“I uploaded them and was like, ‘I’m actually really good at this!’ That summer I asked for a DSLR camera for my birthday, and the rest is history.”
Since then, Haimes’s love for photography has stayed strong. She took an independent study and advanced photography classes in high school, and found a mentor in one of her teachers, who happened to be a professional photographer.
“She took me under her wing and became my second mother,” said Haimes. “She would give me ideas of shoots to do and look at my pictures afterwards and helped me enter a bunch of contests.”
Haimes found success in her high school photo competitions. She took home several scholastic art awards, including silver and gold regionals for an individual photo, a gold regional for her senior portfolio, and a gold national for an individual photo.
When it came time to apply to college, Haimes was cautious about attending an art school.
“I didn’t want to go to art school because I just really wanted to do something else with my life,” said Haimes. “I wanted to be able to have photography as my side thing that I do for fun.”
Haimes came to Bowdoin expecting to be a chemistry major, but soon found her calling in the visual arts and art history departments.
“I dabbled in a bunch of different subjects and then I just kind of realized that I wanted to do art,” said Haimes. “It’s definitely good because here professors are serious about the work they do, but they don’t put too much pressure on you.”
At Bowdoin, Haimes has taken courses in photography, drawing, and architecture. She supplements her visual arts experience with an interdisciplinary major in art history and has noticed its impact on her own work. One of her pieces, titled “Two-Faced,” reminds her of a work by Picasso.
“It’s good to know the history behind what you’re doing,” said Haimes. “I feel like it informs my work.”
This is her first semester without a studio art class.
“It’s a little crazy for me, because I feel like I need that studio time to be productive in doing homework that doesn’t feel like homework,” she said.
To compensate, Haimes has set up a studio in her Stowe Inn apartment. She currently has a series of photographs on view in Smith Union’s Blue Gallery, several of which she took at her makeshift studio.
The exhibition, titled “The Presence of Adolescence,” showcases 15 original black and white portraits of young adulthood.
“I feel like adolescents, teens, and young adults, a.k.a. the people that I’m surrounded by all the time, are one of the most expressive groups of people,” said Haimes.
The show reflects Haimes’ personal philosophy about photography. Haimes is happiest when her photos are able to connect with the most intimate parts of her subject.
“I kind of dabble in everything, but I usually am happiest with my pictures of people,” said Haimes. “I feel like I’m a very people-oriented person, and it’s just a way I can connect with them more.”
Haimes purposefully makes her photos black and white in Photoshop in order to better convey the themes in her work.
“I feel like color can get kind of distracting and I really want you to focus on the person,” said Haimes.
Haimes had her own show at the Isselbacher Gallery in New York this past summer.
Next year, Haimes hopes to study abroad and someday plans on going to graduate school.
She envisions herself working for a magazine or gallery, ideally doing fashion photography or portraiture.
But for now, Haimes is happy with her show, which she conceived and set up herself, along with some help in printing and framing from her dad.
“I’ve had a lot of good feedback,” says Haimes. “I need to establish myself as a photographer here.”
“The Presence of Adolescence” will be on view in Smith Union until the end of February.