Sage Causie’s photos have taken my breath away more than once. There’s no doubt of her mastery of color theory, with her soft portraits often emulating the texture of her soft backgrounds. Sage’s models appear strong yet pensive, evoking quiet confidence in her ability to capture them in their best light.
Originally from the sunshine state, Sage admits she prefers natural light to studio light or strobe. That devotion to the natural world – its tones and depth of color – makes her work shine. This week Sage is taking over our Instagram and we were lucky enough to also pick her brain about lighting, who she admires professionally and how she feels about the fashion industry’s attempts at greater representation.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. All photos by Sage Causie.
Tell us how you got into photography. What was a major break that had a big impact on your career? How did it affect your career moving forward, and how do you feel when you look back on that experience?
I started shooting on and off from 2010-2014. My first breakthrough came in 2014, from my work highlighting black couples and black skin. That work actually went viral and I was premiered on TV One’s ‘Black Love’ segment. It was the first time I actually saw my work on TV. I think that’s when I decided I should take my work a lot more seriously.
Looking back, I wish I was more consistent with it. But being the emotional artist that I am, I took breaks from shooting because of a lack of inspiration. It wasn’t until two years ago that I started really caring about shooting again. That passion I had caused me to move out to Los Angeles to pursue photography more seriously.
What’s one piece of advice you have for photographers who are just getting started and who are trying to build their own brand?
Shoot your own style, study Pinterest boards and try to replicate. There’s nothing wrong with getting inspiration from others but put your own twist. Also, I HIGHLY recommend learning to do things by yourself and doing things independently. My biggest issue when I was starting out was relying on others or waiting on other people to co-sign my work before I felt it was worthy enough. You honestly have to be your biggest fan, your biggest supporter, your biggest yes man. I look up to Tyler The Creator a lot because of this. Even though he’s not a photographer, the way he bet on himself has allowed him to build his own empire. When he first started, he was considered a weirdo and many people didn’t understand his work but over the years he’s proved himself time and time again.
Tell us about your shooting and editing process. How would you describe your style? How do you distinguish yourself from other photographers?
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE natural light. I hate shooting with strobes or anything that can take away from a shot looking natural. The best compliment I ever received was that my photos tell a story. The way I accomplish that is by shooting in natural light as much as possible.
That’s one thing I feel that distinguishes me from other photographers: my emphasis on colors and lighting. I always try to make my portraits timeless.
We’d love to know about your photo “tool belt.” Tell us about your go-to gear and how it’s impacted your work and your style.
My go-to gear? My Canon Mark II 5 D with my 100MM macro lens, though I definitely think its time for an upgrade…
What are your thoughts on diversity and representation within the industry as it stands today? What would you like to see change?
I think that we are getting better at seeing more POC models in the fashion industry. I will say that the industry doesn’t give all photographers an equal chance to shoot big campaigns. A lot of companies only work with certain photographers based on their following on social media, but lack of following is not representative of someone’s talent and artistry.
Who are some of the people or photographers in your life that have inspired you along the way? We’d love to give them a little love.
Justin Hardiman (@kail_soul) – He’s super gifted and supportive. Justin really creates masterpieces. His eye is impeccable and I can’t wait for him to be seen on major platforms.
Mark Clennon (@mark.c) – I’ve followed Mark’s work for a while, from his jump from a full-time job to a freelancer. I love his journey and all the campaigns he’s been a part of. I know that I want to take the same leap sometime soon.
Orin Fleurimont (@Orinary) is so talented, down to earth and a genuine sweetheart. He’s actually from my hometown in Florida and when I was first starting out he was one of the people I looked up to a lot.