The Dream Team
Sarah Cass is the next big thing in music photography, but she couldn’t do it without her right-hand lady
I became something of a mind reader about three years ago when I befriended Sarah Cass. Her ability to communicate using limited speech works well with my own tendency to fill space and time with as many paragraphs as the air will allow.
She’s the photographer, and I’m the writer and manager. Our respective titles run from business partners to best friends — we’re together 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working, living, and creating. I know everything from Sarah’s ideal sleep schedule (4 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to how long it takes her to retouch a series of photos (less than three hours, as she likes her subjects to look like real people), to when she needs a haircut. I’m her scheduler mouthpiece, cheerleader, and alarm clock. And she’s my rock.
Funny thing is that we haven’t always been friends. When I met Sarah five years ago, we didn’t much care for each other. I was the loud, obnoxious girlfriend of her roommate who lived on the second floor of the legendary Denver hipster flop-house, Le Crunk Manor. She was the quiet, obtuse photographer in the basement of our shared space, always studying and shooting. I think we hung out once that year, if you count being at the same Her Space Holiday show. The era ended at Le Crunk, and we all went our separate ways.
Two years later, Sarah called me out of the blue and invited me to dinner. To this day, I have no clue what prompted the phone call, but like most things with Sarah, I don’t ask. In any normal business endeavor, having one partner in the dark spells disaster. Between Sarah and me, it’s the grease on our track. Simply put, Sarah takes the gorgeous pictures, and I make sure she wakes up in time for the shoot.
AN EARLY START
Sarah, now 23, started shooting country music concerts as a teenager but made photography her career goal when she was a student at the Art Institute of Colorado. “I was really bad at photography at first, and it took me about a year and a half to figure out what I was doing,” she says. “I just kept at it and tried to shoot more and more.” To gain experience, Sarah interned for record labels K, Kill Rock Stars, and the promotion company Fanatic. “People started to take me seriously and referred me to others.”
Growing up in a tight-knit music community in Grand Junction, Colorado, Sarah’s passion has taken her all over North America, from British Columbia to New York, all to photograph the bands she loves. Her gentle nature and ability to make the most uncooperative and shy people laugh for a photograph is one part of her magic — the other is in her eye for the undiscovered, both in subject matter and basic photographic location. Sarah never uses a studio, instead placing her subjects in bathroom stalls, on floors of Soho boutiques, in front of Teepees at the Smithsonian, against carpet displays in flooring stores, and often having bands sneak into school yards after dark, all to get the perfect shot.
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