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A high school injury led this photographer to find her passion and future career

One doesn't usually expect to discover their true passion in life after a high school band injury leaves them stranded on the sidelines as a bored teenager. But for Sarah Marcella, that is exactly what happened!

Sarah now owns and operates Sarah Marcella Creative, an all-female creative powerhouse that consists of herself and Chelsea Park-Brouse, a graphic designer/ photographer. The women have also partnered with a makeup artist, a stylist and a custom clothing designer. Sarah primarily specializes in luxury portrait, athletic, fashion and editorial photography, and has found herself very inspired by the way women are viewed in media and the over-editing that is rampant in the fashion industry.

One look at Sarah's work and you can see how real she is -- her style is soft and powerful all at the same time, without the overly cleaned up portrait look we see way too often in D.C. She highlights the natural beauty of her subjects without white-washing the little details that make humans unique. And if you take a peek at her client testimonials you'll see how committed she is to getting the perfect shot -- one even said she wished she could hire Sarah to capture every Kodak moment of her life!

So without further ado, let's turn the mic over to Sarah!

What first inspired your interest in photography?

I fell on my saxophone and ruptured my spleen. Wait, what, right? This goes hand-in-hand with the following question…

When did you pick up your first camera and what was it?

I was in marching band in high school, my instrument of choice: alto saxophone. But the last day of band camp, I fell, and after a week in the hospital, I was told I would not be allowed to march for the season. Band is like a family -- you can’t just quit cold turkey. So I continued to attend practices and tried playing in the pit crew…and I was terrible. So I started bringing my parent’s 3-megapixel camera to band practices and immediately fell in love.

Honestly, I’m surprised it took me so long finding my passion. Both my father and grandfather are photographers -- it was always meant to be! In fact, I still shoot with my father quite a bit. He’s my go-to second shooter for weddings and has always been willing to drop everything to help me live this dream. Shout-out to my parents for always supporting my artistic ventures!

As far as professionally shooting, I celebrated my first year in business in October 2016. Since August 2015, I’ve had more than 300 shoots; it’s been quite a year!

What is your camera of choice today?

I carry two at all times, my Cannon 5D Mark III and my Cannon 5DS

What’s your favorite type of photography?

I don’t think I have one favorite: I do luxury portrait, athletic/fitness, fashion and product. But, there are certain elements of each shoot I really enjoy -- making new relationships, playing with light, and the challenges that come with shooting in small spaces.

What photo are you most proud of?

My freshman year at college on the first day of black and white film class, we were told never to photograph these three things: railroads, graveyards, and cute children/animals. My teacher convinced us that the two former were overdone and the latter was just an easy crowd-pleaser, and he wanted us to challenge ourselves.

With our first critique, I wanted to prove him wrong; I photographed a three-year-old battling cancer. As the teacher went around the room with his Sharpie, marking every imperfection in each photograph, my nerves grew. When it was my turn to present, I masked my fear, grit my teeth, and prepared for the embarrassment to commence. However, he looked at the image, back at me, and told me I had proved him wrong, that it was a great image. We still talk about that image to this day. Take a look, it’s included in my gallery.

What is your coolest or most memorable experience while shooting?

Again, at the risk of sounding corny, I honestly don’t have just one. I really enjoy watching people’s reactions during my shoots. My shoots are very high-energy, fun, and filled with jokes. I take my business very seriously, and give each client a unique experience, however, I always bring a huge smile, large coffee, and an arsenal of hilarious stories to lighten the mood…

What’s at the top of your photography bucket list?

Change the over-editing of bodies in the photography industry. It’s time to accept natural beauty and stop the over-editing. I’m the first to admit, when I have a client who begs me for specific edits to their own body, I cave. I’ve struggled with body acceptance my entire life, and want to help other women, and men, feel amazing just as they are.

Where are your five favorite places to photograph in the DMV area?

Now, now, now -- just like a good magician never gives away their tricks, photographers don’t give away their spots. ;-)

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Never stop creating art. It’s okay to take time away from your passion; many photographers have full-time day jobs! Just remember to take time to get behind the camera and let loose.

What’s one of your hobbies outside of photography?

My husband is an aspiring pro-triathlete (*cough* Snapple tri team, he’s looking at you). We spend most of our weekends cycling, running, and, in the warm months, swimming. As a triathlete’s wife, you quickly learn you, too, become a somewhat athletic just trying to spend time with your partner. In the winter months, we hit the slopes in Western Maryland near our hometown, Cumberland. Apart from trying to keep up with him, I enjoy working with the Old Town Boutiques. I’m the photographer and Creative Director for Alexandria Stylebook, and love shopping, grabbing coffee (by coffee I really mean wine…) and hanging out with the boutique employees and owners.

What’s your motto to live by?

The entire book Stargirl. She’s my role model.

Pretty great answers, right? Now scroll back up to the top to peep the pics. Want more of the Sarah Marcella experience? Head over to her website and follow her work on Instagram!

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