Straight from New Zealand, Sarah Caldwell is a remarkable photographer who worked as a pilot for over 30 years, she travelled all around the globe and since 2013 she’s been capturing the world with a keen eye for lines, interesting angles and reflections. Lately she’s taking her unique vision to the new perspectives brought by artificial intelligence.
Sarah, thank you immensely for talking to us! Your images are breathtaking and powerful, conveying a sense of awe and often making us feel small. How did you discover this love for architecture photography?
You’re very welcome Victor! I appreciate your kind words.
In 2015, two years after I took up photography, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in the US called ‘The Art of Creativity’ with JohnPaul Caponigro and Seth Resnick. During my journey to the workshop, I made stops in LA and New York, where I started capturing photographs of buildings. When I presented my portfolio, which included some of these architectural shots alongside landscapes, they saw something unique in them and encouraged me to explore further. That encouragement was a turning point, and I fully immersed myself in creative architecture photography from that moment on.
How do you find the locations for your shots? Do you plan beforehand or roam around the city searching for the perfect spot?
I do both. If I come across a photo of a remarkable building, interior or a captivating scene, I make a note of it. However, I also love the spontaneity of wandering. It’s not always a specific building that catches my eye; sometimes, even ordinary buildings have extraordinary elements to them. There are often hidden gems and unique angles waiting to be discovered around corners, and I find joy in exploring them.
What’s the most impressive place you’ve photographed?
Well, that’s a tough one! London was a goldmine for me, and a close second would be Hong Kong and Tokyo. But if I had to pick a specific location, I’d say Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. It’s an incredible and exciting building that offers something new every time you visit. The stainless steel panels reflect the sky, and the many different shapes create awesome shadows, making it look different depending on the time of day and the weather.
You’re constantly finding lines and reflections. Were you always attracted to them or did it start with photography?
Well, lines and shapes have been a fascination of mine since my school days when I used to feature them in my artwork. Art was my favorite subject back then. As for reflections, that passion began to grow after I took up photography. Living in Auckland, where we get our fair share of rain, there were always puddles around to capture interesting reflections. Over time, my interest expanded beyond puddles to include window and glass reflections. I suppose it all stems from my love of symmetry.
Even though you worked as a pilot for over 30 years, it’s hard to find airports among your images. Is there a special reason for this?
The airports that I flew to were often rather utilitarian and not too visually inspiring in terms of design, for me anyway. I do have a few shots that feature airports, like one at Changi Airport in Singapore, where the shopping area had these beautiful shiny floors that created mesmerizing reflections. However, most of the time, when you’re a pilot, you’re on a tight schedule and can’t really dilly-dally to take photos, haha!
You also seek beyond what’s in front of you to dive into what your mind sees. What drove you to the abstraction?
I think it’s probably a result of my mother’s influence. She pursued a Master of Fine Arts (with Honors) degree later in life and was deeply involved in creating semi-abstract and large-scale abstract works using oils and acrylics. However, the real catalyst that drew me into abstraction was the Covid lockdowns. We experienced two strict lockdowns, each lasting several months. During that time, I began creating abstract art from my architectural photos using Photoshop filters.
You’ve been working with AI as well, how did it start and what’s your process to create with it?
I got inspired by friends on X who were experimenting with AI, and I was eager to give it a try too. So, I decided to dive in 9 months ago and purchased a subscription for private mode, and it has been a tremendous source of creative inspiration for me.
Initially, I began by using my architectural images, and then I incorporated some of my abstract photos from an NFT collection. I found immense joy in creating abstract art with AI. Over time, I’ve transitioned to crafting pure AI-generated architectural images that may not always be realistic. My primary focus remains on showcasing the beauty in lines, shapes, and symmetry, and that passion continues to drive my creative process.
When and how did you learn about NFTs?
I first learned about NFTs back in 2018 through my neighbor, who was into early tech startups. He mentioned that I could potentially use my photography for NFTs, and I found the idea intriguing. However, life got busy, and I didn’t get around to exploring it further, as I didn’t know anyone doing it then. I retired from flying in late 2019, relocated in early 2020, and then the COVID lockdown happened shortly after. It wasn’t until mid 2021 when some photography friends invited me to join their group to explore NFTs together that I really started delving into the concept and became hooked lol
How do you think NFTs are changing the way we experience art?
NFTs are introducing a fresh perspective on how we engage with art, It’s not just a physical gallery or book etc any longer. They’re playing a crucial role in keeping art not only relevant but also accessible to a wider and upcoming audience and they inject excitement into the art world. NFTs are bridging the gap between art and groundbreaking technology, ensuring that art remains in sync with these developments.
What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
My ultimate goal as an artist is to keep doing what I love most, creating art. I pour my passion and love into finding beauty in my work, and if others appreciate it too, that’s just an added bonus. I’m also all about sharing the joy of art because art is meant to be shared.
Thank you Sarah for bringing your perception to the Fast Forward drop! We’re excited to have you in the ArtPacks selection and eager to see your future works!