When Sarah Mercer returned from a year in Afghanistan with the Canadian Navy, she took a friend’s advice and picked up a Nikon. “I found it hard to talk about what I saw there,” Mercer recalls. “Photography was a way of expressing myself.” And express she did: her first project involved taking a self-portrait every day for a year. Armed with her camera, a Speedlight, and a remote control, Mercer posted the daily pic — sometimes dark, sometimes daring, and always poignant — on her blog, www.geekgirly.ca. Three years later, and with just one photography training course under her belt, Mercer is excitedly sending prints to Hollywood for the celebrity grab bags at the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Here are the 10 things this promising photographer can’t live without.
1. My camera I started with a Nikon D50 — my friend Connor helped me pick it out. It sat on a shelf for a few weeks, but once I started, I didn’t stop. I have since upgraded to a Nikon D80.
2. My morning coffee At Bread & Sons. I usually match it with a scone.
3. Bungee jumping I’ve bungee jumped three times — twice in New Zealand and once at the Great Canadian Bungee Jump in Wakefield. Once you’ve done that, you can do anything!
4. Wine I prefer red. I don’t drink a lot, but I like a good, spicy shiraz. When it comes to going out, my friends and I usually head for 107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar & Café.
5. Laughter and humour This is where my friends come in.
6. iPhone/iPod/iPad I just recently added the iPad to my Mac collection. I wanted to use it primarily for my photography portfolio, but I have yet to find a program I really love. Still, it’s good for reading philosophy — and fashion magazines.
7. Fashion It’s just something I’ve always been interested in, and after I started taking pictures, I fell in love with the work of Helmut Lang. People have remarked that my work reminds them of fashion photography. I wasn’t going for that, but years of reading Elle magazine must have affected my eye.
8. Natural light In photography, at work, at home. Because I’m in the navy, I often work in places without windows. One of my first jobs was in radar. Then I moved to intelligence, but that definitely meant no windows.
9. Dark chocolate Anything over 60 percent. My favourite is the kind with chili peppers inside.
10. Social media I’ve met a lot of people through Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. I joined this Flickr group of female self-portrait artists called the Divine Sisterhood. We collaborate on projects like the Divine Diptych series. I even met up with one of them in Vancouver, and then we travelled to Europe together and met up with other members. Some people think it’s weird, meeting up with people you only know through social media, but it’s not.