I cannot think of a happier, bubblier person than Sabrina. She constantly has a smile on her face and is always ready and willing to give a hug. We met in 2015 at the Promoting Passion photography convention and over the past three years we’ve become good friends. Her creativity and and gorgeous tones always inspire me, there is always something so incredibly magical about her work. Continue reading to delve into her creation process.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, what makes you tick?
My name is Sabrina Fattal and I am a wedding, portrait and conceptual photographer based in Atlanta, GA. I am constantly inspired by nature, blackberries are my favorite food, autumn is my favorite season, I walk around barefoot way more than it is probably recommended, strawberry ice cream is the best flavor, Winnie the Pooh always cheers me up when I am down and I am a travel addict!
2. What got you started in photography?
I started photography on total accident! My best friend in high school got super into photography our freshman year of high school and she kept trying to take my picture, which drove me nuts! I hated having my picture taken, I was very insecure and just overall thought the concept of photography was annoying. So I snatched the camera out of her hands and looked down at the tiny screen and looked at the images. For one of the first times in my life, I felt beautiful and confident. I was fascinated by the fact that she could make me feel that amazing and tell the story of me with one image. I then picked up her camera and took her picture making her get into all kinds of crazy poses. I was instantly hooked! I couldn’t stop, we ended up staying up for hours creating together and then over the next few weeks we would meet up every day after school and create. I wanted to give others the gift of seeing their beauty.
My pieces were always very different from hers, I was always drawn to the darker storytelling of photography which wasn’t too popular at first with my friends and family. I was struggling a lot at first with this because I wasn’t getting much support with my “creepy” images, mostly just concern, so I changed my brand to photography filled with sunshine and flowers and girls running through fields, then saving the moodier stuff for my own private collection. A little later into getting my craft started I came across my favorite artist, Brooke Shaden, and saw her way of teaching the beauty within the darkness and showing others that it was okay to be weird and different, it was okay to not have photographs that went along with everyone else. Along with Brooke, I found Michelle Scott, a photographer also based in Atlanta that I started an internship under during my senior year of high school. She, like me, has a love for the overcast side of our craft. She also inspired me greatly to not be fearful of what I wanted to create. It was a very long process to get comfortable with sharing darker imagery, even in my normal weddings and portraits I seem to gravitate towards the darker and moodier stuff. I have a love of deep rich color, harsh textures, and intense shadows. It has been about a year and a half long process but I have finally stripped away the mold I was trying to fit in and rebranded my business into the brand I am proud of today that I feel fully represents me.
3. Describe your workflow, what is unique about your process?
In terms of workflow, I am a little all over the place. I always get these visions and ideas in my head of images and then I write them out in a little leather notebook that I have and use to carry around with my constantly. Unfortunately, when I go back to shoot them, they never turn out the way that I hoped they would. My best and most favorite way of shooting is all in the moment. I love to fill my car up with costumes and props and head out on an adventure with friends. I am inspired by moments and spaces. When I am exploring with my models that is when I get inspired and want to create, I am overcome with this tingling sensation all over my body and then I know I must create. A lot of the times I don’t even know what these visions mean, I figure out the deeper meaning behind them when I am sitting there and editing the final image. I have gotten in the habit of always keeping one of my shooting dresses in my car along with some red yarn or another prop and of course, my camera goes with me everywhere, that way when I am inspired, I can just go for it!
4. Is there a certain theme you try and express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that?
A theme is something I had been struggling with in the past, again, I was having a hard time trying to stick with a popular mold, but I have found that most of my pieces come from my own personal spiritual beliefs. I am very inspired by man’s relationship with God (or whatever your belief is) one of my favorite conversation topics is what other people do and do not believe in. When I was younger I felt very spiritually connected to the other side and I have brought a lot of that into my pieces, I would try and recreate how things made me feel or things that I had seen so I could explain them better to others. Another thing that a good bit of my work is about, especially my more recent pieces is my anxiety. I have very very bad anxiety and a lot of times it does not make sense to me. I don’t know how to describe it to others so I show it in my work. Mental illness is something that a lot of us (if not everyone) can relate to and if my art does one thing, I want it to comfort someone and let them know, they are not the only one and they are not alone in this.
5. Where do you find your inspiration? What stories compel you to create?
Nature is by far my biggest inspiration, especially when fall comes around. I try to create magic with my work and it shocks me how incredibly magical nature already is on its own. I am also inspired by Victorian homes, it is my dream to live in one someday, I am inspired by old folk stories and legends, I love those. But above all, I am inspired by people and their stories and emotions.
6. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?
My favorite image by far is definitely “Gaslighting”. This one is the perfect example of being inspired in the moment and going with it. I was in my favorite graveyard with a big group of my friends shooting some images that I had actually planned out and wrote in my little book (they surprisingly all turned out well) and Jack, the man in the image was joking around saying that at this point he would do anything for my photography because I couldn’t possibly make him suffer more (I have covered him in flower and dirt, tied him up in rope and yarn, made him sit in freezing water in Feburary; I am horrible, I know) So I took a look at him and out of nowhere I picked up a handful of leaves and asked if I could put them in his mouth a light them on fire (I was completely joking.) Jack said yes believe it or not and so I got my camera ready, my best friend who is a filmmaker, Victoria, set up her shot and we literally lit Jack on fire and now have the whole thing on video. Jack was all good, no damage was done and I got my all-time favorite image from it that means the absolute world to me.
7. Who has been your biggest role model and/or mentor during your journey?
My biggest mentor and inspiration would be Brooke Shaden, she was honestly the whole reason I started and the whole reason I wasn’t frightened to show my work anymore. I then went to her amazing conference that she has every year, Promoting Passion, and found a group of people who inspire me every day, to name a few: Samantha Goss, Tim Stephens, Joel Robinson, Joel Mckerrow, Amani AlShaali, Sam Harnois, Lauren Jenkins, Lillian Merritt (of course) and a few outside of our little family: Christopher Mckenny and Seanen Middleton.
8.What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I have ever been given is Everything Happens for a Reason. My mother constantly tells me that and it is very true. I often get frustrated when things don’t go my way, but it is important to remember, not everything is in your control and if it is meant to happen, it will.
9. What would you tell your younger self, the you who just started photography?
Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are. I was so concerned with what other people wanted me to create, that I didn’t allow myself to create what I wanted to. I would tell myself to create what I love and am passionate about.