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Interviews

Capturing Beauty With Photographer Sarah Shen

by theSKIN

• By theSKIN

We all know beauty when we see it, but it takes a special eye to capture it in a photo. LA-based beauty, fashion, and product photographer Sarah Shen definitely has that skill locked down. Just take a look through her portfolio and you’ll see she has a knack for snapping the perfect pic. We chatted with Sarah about her career journey, her skincare routine for acne-prone skin, and what beauty means to her.

TS

How did you get into photography, and how did you build your career to where you are today?

SS

I’ve always loved photography and dedicated a lot of time trying to learn as much as I could about it since I was young. When I was a full-time college student, I regularly put together personal projects and began building my portfolio by working with modeling agencies, stylists, and makeup artists. I started working as a junior photographer for Rosalie Agency during my junior year of college and assisted on a lot of beauty clients for a couple of years. This past year, I also joined SETActive as a freelance retoucher and worked in-house on e-commerce image editing. I’m still fairly early in my career, but have now been freelancing for about two and half years since graduating, and I’m very grateful to all of the amazing people throughout the years who have given me the opportunity to create and grow alongside them. Some beauty brands I’ve worked with in recent years are Urban Decay, Lawless, Shani Darden Skincare, The Skinny Confidential, and NatureLab Tokyo.

TS

What’s your favorite part of being a photographer?

SS

I love shoot days, when everything the team and I have been preparing for finally comes to fruition. Every photoshoot involves a lot of preparation, from conceptualizing to coordinating a team, and my favorite part is when we’re able to comfortably bounce ideas and finally bring it all together in the actual photoshoot. I’m a very collaborative person and I try to create an environment that allows everyone on the team to come in with any ideas of their own in order to build something new together.

TS

What advice would you give to another aspiring photographer?

SS

Create work as often as you can. So much of art is learning and exploring and it’s important to continually experience as much of the creative process as possible. Creative direct projects for yourself, reach out to people who you think could be interesting subjects, search online resources for answers to technical questions, and take whatever chance you can get to explore your passion. Protect your energy and be conscious of where you spend your time consuming art and gathering inspiration.

TS

Tell us about your skincare routine! What do you use to keep your skin healthy and happy?

SS

I’ve struggled with acne-prone skin for the majority of my life and began using Accutane in the past couple of months. I used to have super oily skin and recently have had to shift my skincare routine to accommodate my current dryness from the medication. In the morning, I’ll rinse my face with water and follow with Innisfree Long-Lasting Sunscreen SPF 50 and Aquaphor Lip Protectant + SPF. If I put makeup on, I use Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, Chella Beauty Brow Pencil, and NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel. I’ll typically take fish oil supplements and use my Hey Dewy humidifier in dry environments when possible. In the evening, I’ll rinse off my makeup with Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil and then use Caudalie Vinopure Toner. I’ll then moisturize using Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid and The Ordinary Rose Hip Seed Oil.

TS

What is the one skincare product or treatment that changed your life?

SS

Honestly, Accutane has been the most impactful experience for my skin. I haven’t had clear skin since I was a teenager, and a lot of topical treatments, antibiotic medications, and products did not work for treating my stubborn acne. My skin has improved so much within just a couple of weeks of starting the journey, and I’m excited to move through the remainder of my treatment.

“Self-care is about incorporating moments of restfulness and reflection in everyday life as opposed to treating it as a reward.

TS

What was your first coveted beauty product?

SS

I’ve been interested in beauty since middle school, and was always SO obsessed with watching beauty YouTubers and learning about Korean skincare. I think the first skincare product that I was excited to try was the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream because the idea of using snail mucin in skincare sounded so intriguing.

TS

What’s your self-care power move?

SS

I believe proper self-care is about incorporating moments of restfulness and reflection in everyday life as opposed to treating it as a reward. I’ve made a commitment to myself in the past year that I’d try to do at least one creative thing a day and carve out a little time everyday to work on a creative project, no matter how small.

TS

What’s your ideal Sunday situation?

SS

I’m someone who likes variety, so my Sundays never quite look the same. In an ideal world, I’d start my day off by going to my neighborhood coffee shop and catching up on texts with friends or journaling. I’d then spend the rest of the day working on DIY projects on my patio or home studio and playing music in the background.

TS

 In a few words, how do you define beauty?

SS

I associate beauty with self-confidence. It’s about completely owning who you are and the energy that you give off when being completely comfortable with your sense of self.