Sadie Such has been able to combine two of her biggest passions — photography/videography and helping people — with a really cool layer: traveling around the globe. The 23-year-old Phoenix resident, who has owned Sadie Such Photography and Films for the past 3 years, also goes on volunteer mission trips to places such as Central America and West Africa. Such, who has a degree in film production from the Film School at Scottsdale Community College (and played tennis there), has worked with organizations including PhotogenX to document social injustice around the globe, as well as teach photography and video skills. She’ll be headed to Zambia in June and has ideas for films of her own, and she talked about what drives her passion. Keep reading to hear five reasons why Such loves living in the Valley, too.
What brought you to Arizona?
I was born and raised in Phoenix. Probably about 4 years ago, I started traveling internationally and living in different states, but I always ended up back here because my family is here.
What is your first memory of being interested in photography or videography?
My dad is a good hobby photographer and would usually have a camera on trips, so growing up we would wait for the film to be developed and get the slides. Then, we would turn some music on and watch a real slideshow on our wall with a slide projector. I started taking pictures with disposables. Growing up, my dad would also get out the big heavy-duty camera and videotape us. Once we got a smaller video camera and got a little older, I would take it and make videos with my sister or friends and do interviews. I always loved capturing and documenting life.
What made you want to study film?
In high school (at Arcadia High School), I had taken a couple years of a black-and-white film photography class where we developed our own film in the dark room, and I started doing a media communications class for a couple years and knew I wanted to move forward in media in some way.
How did you get involved with mission work?
After I graduated, I did an internship with a film production company in downtown Phoenix and started doing freelance work for Randy Murray Productions. I was all set to go study abroad in Spain and learn Spanish, but I met some people who did mission work in film in Hawaii. With my passion for photography and film, I ended up getting involved with a ministry called PhotogenX. The first year I was with PhotogenX, we did a road trip through Mexico and Central America for 3 months. A lot of it was documenting the issues that were going on in different areas and how people can help, listening to stories, and sharing beauty of the people and places through photos and videos.
What got you interested in wanting to travel?
I always loved to travel. I love to meet new people and understand new cultures. On and off for the past 3 years, I’ve been doing freelance work/volunteering with PhotogenX, Voice for the Voiceless and Grassroots News International. We worked with people involved in human sex trafficking. We also worked with the native people in West Africa to help raise awareness on the issue of clean water. There were a lot of places in Togo where they’d be drinking dirty water because that’s all they had, and they’d get sick. We helped them share their stories through video and photos and gave people practical steps for how they could help.
What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I really like to capture the beauty of people, whether it’s here shooting a wedding or a newborn or people around the world. I love capturing emotion. Although it may sound cheesy, I just love how unique and beautiful people are — I think it’s important to document not just the pain that’s going on, but show the beauty of the people.
What are the biggest challenges and benefits to starting your own business?
The benefit is that you can create your own schedule. The hard part is the same — by working from home, it can be hard to stop working because your work is always there hanging over you. It’s finding the balance of working and relaxing.
What are some ways people can make sure they look great in photos?
Breathe. Relax. And if you get stuck, try laughing. Try not to think about the camera.
What are some basic photography tips you have?
Lighting is key. Don’t have the person looking directly into the sun, because then they’re going to most likely be squinting and have bad shadows on their face. Look for natural ways to reflect soft light onto the person’s face. Be aware of where the sun is.
What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken?
This one from Togo where this boy who is about 6 or 7 has his little brother sleeping on his back. I love it because the older brother is smiling and has so much joy and vibrance.
Where would you like to take photos?
I would love to travel to places around Europe, such as Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. I’d love to shoot Aspen trees in the mountains in the fall. The list could go on.
What are some of the film ideas you have?
There are lots of ideas brewing, but they have to do with beauty and joy and what that looks like in different cultures.
Are there any social causes you think people should be paying attention to now?
Human trafficking and the sex trade, because many of us may think it’s not a relevant issue in our country, but it is, and it is happening.
Why should people hire you as a photographer or videographer?
This is what I love to do, what I am passionate about. This is what I do full-time, so it is not just a side gig. I aim to capture the love and the emotion and who people are as a couple or family or whatever the event is.
What characterizes your work?
It’s honest, emotional, truthful, and photojournalistic. If I am photographing a person or event, you won’t just get the posed and formal shots, but the real, candid emotion. Sometimes it’s the “in-between” moment that is the best.