Sara Erasmo believes that photography shows that our inner worlds are rich and worth exploring.
Vogue Philippines invited 10 artists to showcase what “celebration” means to them through their chosen medium. Through photography, Sara Erasmo finds beauty in the banal.
To find joy in unexpected places and to seek beauty in the mundane is what Sara Erasmo has become accustomed to. Ever since she was young, the 30-year-old photographer always sought out solace in creativity. She began drawing at a young age and ventured into photography in high school by joining platforms like LiveJournal and DeviantArt.
By following the footsteps of Filipino photographers like Joseph Pascual and Tricia Gosingtian, Erasmo began documenting her own life through her own digital SLR camera.
Throughout Erasmo’s oeuvre, subjects like flowers, trees, and water constantly make an appearance—bridging the natural world and her surroundings. Her distinct aesthetic leans toward out-of-the-box thinking and unconventional elements.
Rather than seeing the surface-level appeal of the everyday, Erasmo delves deeper, uncovering sensuous elements of the mundane objects around us. She breathes new life into her subjects by giving them their own narratives; lilies are seen in a fiery new light while mushrooms are depicted as ethereal, dynamic subjects. “I try not to think too much about whether or not something I’m making fits a certain style or aesthetic. Though it’s interesting to see the patterns and idiosyncrasies of my work looking back at everything as a whole,” she tells Vogue Philippines.
Erasmo’s subtle use of natural light gives her photography a dream-like aesthetic. Inanimate objects and natural elements are given a new dimension in her photographs. For her, the texture of dried paint can become the most remarkable subject when placed underneath water with flowers. Again and again, she shows her curious and pensive state of mind throughout her imagery.
“I usually start with a vague idea of what I want to do. For example, taking photos of a certain flower with a specific kind of lighting or capturing the iridescence of mussel shells,” she mentions. “I don’t always end up happy with the results of the initial idea, but every time it leads me somewhere interesting.”
The artist is deeply rooted in her love for exploration. “I know I’m onto something good once I get lost in the flow of creating,” she shares, “when I get the kilig of discovering something [like] a new lighting set-up [or] new textures to play with.”
The pandemic played a big role in her body of work, allowing her to see her Mom’s garden and pockets of nature in her subdivision through a new lens.
“You notice the tiniest things when you let your head get quiet for a bit, like how the water looks under the sun while doing laundry on a particularly hot day,” she says.
Looking back at her works, her projects can be likened to diaries, a reflection of how she felt in a specific moment.
“What I’ve learned from my practice these last few years is that introspection is powerful,” Erasmo says. By turning the camera toward herself, she focuses on the small things that make her life her own.
Through delicate close-ups and a unique point of view, she compares her practice to an endless pursuit in satisfying her “inner child.”“I make things because it gives me space to play, especially now that I’m thirty and everything seems so serious all the time,” Erasmo explains.
By discovering intrigue in her own surroundings, she realizes that beauty can take on a new meaning. “I thought beauty was something I had to achieve or earn as a woman,” she says, “but [what] my practice has shown me [is that there is] beauty in the imperfect.”