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Capturing Waves with Spencer Sarson

Spencer Sarson’s photographs can take your breath away. His extreme attention to detail, his beautiful use of color and the way he captures the shapes and geometry of the natural world is truly astounding. Photographs aside, Spencer is a gifted videographer, capturing the ordinary world and making it something to look twice at. Spencer Sarson may not be sure where his life will take him when he graduates from college this June, but he’s sure he’ll have a camera by his side.

Spencer is a Colorado native who is now a senior at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Although Spencer was raised in the mountains he has now switched his views and is partial to the warm weather and waves provided for him in California, which have become a source of inspiration for him in his photography.

“I really like surfing photography, which is something I really love to see and am trying to get into more. I think nature photography in general is one of my favorite things, it looks really cool and it gets you out doing things.”

Spencer first got into photography when he took a film photography class as a senior in high school.

“That was probably the first time I began taking photos seriously. When I got to college, I started bringing the camera wherever I went with my friends, to the beach or on hikes; just taking photos and playing around with it.”

Recently Spencer bought a waterproof house for his Cannon 5D Mark III, which has allowed him to take his photography into the ocean.

Spencer draws his inspiration in water photography from two of his favorite photographers: Chris Burkhart and Clark Little.

“Chris Burkhart is one of my favorite photographers. He actually grew up in Pismo, which is 45 minutes from San Luis Obispo. He’s an amazing photographer; he just recently got really famous for his cold-water surfing photography. He’s been going to Antarctica and Iceland and New Zealand – all these amazing places. He goes with surfers and then takes pictures of them in 30 degree water. Clark Little is an amazing wave photographer. He’s based in Hawaii and is just living the dream life, playing in the waves all day.”

In Spencer’s most recent photos, you can see the inspiration that he’s pulled from these two photographers. But Spencer has created visions for his photos that are all is own – making the ocean waves look like soft silk in glorious combinations of blues and greens.

Though photography is his passion, in the last few years, Spencer began making short films as well.

“The film making part of it has been really fun, I first started that two or three years ago.” Spencer loved to go onto Vimeo, a website devoted to videography, and stumbled across many cool videos which caught his attention. “There were a lot of little profile videos, which focus on one person’s talent, or a little shop or something like that. There was this video about a bakery in San Francisco and the woman who started it. I was really inspired. I thought it would be cool to do something similar to that.” Spencer emailed one of his favorite breakfast spots in town, Sally Loo’s, and asked if he could do a video for them.

“They were super friendly and helpful. They just let me do whatever I wanted. Then, from there I guess it snowballed a little bit. They knew a lot of other people in town and I got contacted by some other restaurants and did videos for them as well.”

Spencer began emailing people around town who he thought were doing interesting things, “It really just stems from me finding cool people or places. I just email them and say: I think you guys do some really cool stuff, I’d love to make a video about it.”

One of Spencer’s favorite projects was a music video, which he shot for a local band, The Tipsy Gypsies. “They are this cool little swing/jazz group who play at a bar every Thursday night. My friends and I would always go, so I emailed them asking if they wanted to make a music video and they were super down with that.” Spencer has made videos for a wide range of people including local businesses, artists, musicians, even beekeepers. You can check out his amazing videos here.

Right now, Spencer is just making videos because he loves it.

“My favorite thing about videos is getting a snapshot of somebody’s life. When I do the videos, I get to spend a lot of time with these people and see everything that they are doing, which is cool because it is usually something they love to do. I get to see their passion and try to film them doing that. If I were to take it into some legit business or work for someone…I don’t want to lose my love for it...having to work for a deadline or make ten videos a month. I don’t want to lose the passion.”

With that being said Sarson doesn't really know where he will go from here, but it’s not something he’s too worried about.

“I graduate in June and then four days after graduation my girlfriend, Annie, and I are traveling for four and a half weeks to South America. When I get back it’s totally unknown. I’ve done the job search thing but I haven’t found anywhere I am super psyched on. I don’t really see myself in a 9-5 job but I think working for myself would be something I could do for a while. I’ve done a lot of freelance stuff. I’ve done wedding videos, which are nice because people pay a lot for that. Financially, that is the biggest industry. I’m trying to not worry too much and just kind of let it happen.”

Visit Spencer Sarson's website here.


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