During a short trip to London we met up with Fashion Photographer Sierra Pruitt. She introduced us to the very aesthetic Hackney Coffee Co which it’s totally worth a visit if you love plants and funky cafes. During our chat Sierra opened up about her faith, the fashion industry, and what she thinks it’s important to remember about our identity.
We hope you love this interview, and make sure to check out Sierra’s work. She’s amazing!
Fashion gave me the freedom to express and experiment, be weird and abstract, without the limitations of lifestyle and commercial photography.
Why did you move to London?
When I visited London back in 2015, I was immediately obsessed with the energy of the city. The fashion, art, and creative scene was something that I have never experienced before. The people, beauty of the city, drive to experiment and take chances creativity was something really special to me.
Whilst in London during my visit I was looking into universities to study photography, I even went to an interview at one of the top universities in London and they told me I knew nothing about photography. It was an intense 2 hours, but most eye opening because they were right. I went back to Portland and wanted to go back to London so badly, there was just something about it, I had to move there. The only way for me to live in London was going to study there, so I figured I would try applying to a photography course. A university counselor told me I should apply to a Fashion Photography course, which I did not want to do at all because I thought it was too narrow of a road, but after going online and seeing the student’s work, it was exactly what I was looking for. Fashion gave me the freedom to express and experiment, be weird and abstract, without the limitations of lifestyle and commercial photography. I applied to one of the top fashion universities in the world, had an interview, and got accepted.
Did you always know you wanted to be a Photographer?
Not at all. When I graduated high school I went to university to study theatre, I wanted to be an actor. I loved the theatre and did a lot of art in high school.
How did you get started?
Whilst being in my second year at university in Portland my friend shot iPhone photography and so I started taking pictures on my iPhone then got a cheap DSLR camera and started taking pictures of my friends. I was super passionate about photography so I quit university after my second year to become a freelance photographer. That was the real step into being serious about photography. I never thought I would ever quit university, but there was no program and I just took the step. It was not easy, I was working part time at Chipotle (still love the food) and freelancing at the same time for about two years.
Jesus is always reminding me time and time again that I and my work are enough.
Why Fashion over other aspects of Photography?
Fashion imagery and stories are so full of experimentation and expression. Many people do not really understand it and sometimes look at an image and go “what the heck is that? Is that even fashion?” but it is something I get so excited about! I have always been obsessed with avant garde fashion and loved expressing myself through clothing. Fashion draws you into a story, it is one of the only outlets in the photography world where you can create imagery that breaks boundaries in my opinion. Where fine art and fashion co-exist.
What has been the hardest thing about pursuing this career?
Fear of the unknown. Especially when doing freelance I never know when my next paycheck will be. It has been a huge stretch in trusting God with literally everything; my finances, clients, jobs, creativity, and more. I think as artists we are always comparing ourselves to others. I am enneagram 4w3 and my weakness is never being satisfied and being envious of other artists. It can be used for having a healthy drive but it is really unhealthy because I always feel like I need to do more and produce more all the time. Even though that is not the case and Jesus is always reminding me time and time again that I and my work are enough.
One tip for someone who is thinking of pursuing Fashion Photography?
Don’t focus on aesthetics. Dig deep into the story of what you are creating, think deeper, research, and give meaning to your work. What looks cool and trendy now will fade. Shoot stuff that really excites you and be innovative.
My identity in Jesus is what I live and breathe. If I didn’t know my identity in God I would be easily influenced. It’s being apart of the world but not in it.
God is literally teaching me to dream bigger and be bolder. I currently can’t even answer this right now because I don’t even know.
What’s been your journey with God so far?
I have been listening to sermons from my pastor John Mark back in Portland. He has been talking about rest in a culture where we glorify productiveness and busyness. There are many people around me including myself that wants to be productive all the time. We believe the lie that if we aren’t productive nothing will get done and there is no purpose unless we are doing something. I am being challenged in making myself obedient to rest and being totally okay with it. Work is not my life, Jesus is. So why am I putting work and “doing things” first instead of being still or literally doing nothing. I always have sabbath on Sundays and God is really teaching me to have a lifestyle counterculture of our culture today. We forget that God’s way of doing things will bring more joy and we think we can’t be creative if we aren’t doing stuff all the time, but the most creative ideas come from a place of stillness.
How do you keep your faith at the centre of what you do in the industry?
Identity is the word. Being committed and surrendering fully to Jesus. My identity in Jesus is what I live and breathe. If I didn’t know my identity in God I would be easily influenced. It’s being apart of the world but not in it. I know my identity and everything stems from that. The way I treat people, collaborate, work, do business, produce images, it all comes from my identity in God. He isn’t separate from my work. Being unashamedly open about my relationship with Jesus and constantly giving him all the credit. People question, want to listen, and are more open to Jesus than you think. We need to remember that everyone is made in the image of God. I would not be here without Him at all.
What is one thing you find particularly important for Christians to do/be today?
Thirsty for God’s word and His Holy Spirit. To fully commit to living a life of following Jesus, not following the world’s definition of what “the good life” is.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
The people that surround me. Currently I am finding it hard to be motivated at the moment, and I am looking at everything as a chore. But my friends are always checking up on me to see how I am doing and it is such a blessing cause they help motivate me to get work done or go out, etc.
What does success look like for you?
Our culture defines success as making money, living comfortably, being popular, and having an amazing career. But all those things are material and don’t actually fulfill us. I just really want to be loving Jesus, live a life honouring Him, creating disciples, and to be obedient in what He wants for me. I struggle sometimes because I am really self aware and am always thinking about the next thing I can do and not thinking about ok what can I do for Jesus. We get so caught up in career aspirations and self-focused on our art sometimes we forget why we are on this earth in the first place, and it isn’t to make good money and good photographs that is for dang sure.
On a lighter note
Three things you’re consuming right now
Netflix show – Patriot Act
Podcasts – This Cultural Moment, The Real Life Podcast, Bridgetown Church Podcast
Music – Kevin Garrett, “Low-Key” playlist by Spotify, A Jesus Church album
Favourite photography app