Shifting the focus on finance: Interview with Sarah Peet
An insight into how Sarah Peet captures the essence of social lending and the people of Mission Asset Fund.
Sarah Peet is a passionate photographer who specializes in destination wedding photography and originally from Vermont. She captured the stories of our Lending Circles members and staff for our new website and we’re thrilled to share the story behind her great work!
What do you feel is the best way to approach storytelling through photography?
Having true compassion and interacting honestly with the subjects is a great way to share their stories. I feel it is best to know as much information about the people you are photographing before you take the images. It is nice to know their history and the emotions they are feeling. I think making people feel comfortable with you always evokes genuine and telling images. Also really encouraging them to relax seems to be a good way to let them forget they are being photographed. This allows their natural selves to come through in the image. Shooting photos in spaces that are personal to the subject seems to convey the story of their lives by showing all the little details in their world. The emotion can be conveyed through their expressions as well as the activity being performed by the subject.
What is your process like when you begin a new project?
Working on projects gives me a chance to hear people’s personal stories and then to document them through images. I research the history of a company, person, organization, etc. and find out as many details as I can about the story that I am capturing with images. I spend time scouting the location for good settings for the subject to be photographed in and for the lighting conditions. I try to scout as close to the time of day I’ll be taking photos, so I know if natural light will work best, or if additional lighting will be required. I love meeting new people and hearing the details of their lives, I am naturally inquisitive.
Economic and social justice are two important values at Mission Asset Fund. How are you able to capture those concepts on film & was it difficult?
Economic and social justice are values prevalent in all of the images I’ve taken with MAF. I have taken photos of people facilitating and being a part of a Lending Circle – which gives people financial opportunities they otherwise would not have had. I have documented growing business that were supported by MAF and have facilitated safe living conditions, higher education, healthier food, and many other successes. Many people have thrived and risen above poverty and difficulty because of the great support system MAF provides. It’s been great to hear about people’s success because they used photographs I have taken to build their own website, which helped their company expand and grow. I documented the happiness and proud moments which convey the concepts of economic and social justice such as a proud chef standing in her own restaurant or in front of her independent food cart or in her own home away from an abusive past.
What was your favorite photo from your time with us and what was the story behind it?
I’ve really enjoyed knowing Alicia’s story (of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas). She is such a kind, loving and warm person. I like the photos of her looking proud and standing in front of her own independent food cart. She has worked really hard and is also so appreciative of all the support of MAF and those around her. Veronica of El Huarache Loco also has a very successful business and I loved documenting her in her kitchen of her own restaurant. I also loved seeing the spread with all of the DREAMers. It is nice to see a collage of so many faces of all different ages assisted by MAF.
What was the favorite thing you learned during the process with MAF?
I have loved hearing the sweet success stories that have come out of working with MAF. There is so much abuse, negativity and struggle in the world, so it has been really nice to focus on moments of joy, support, love and assistance for people that are working hard to succeed. It has been nice to hear how people have been able to change their living conditions for the better through their connection with such a great organization.
Jonathan D’Souza is the Marketing Manager at Mission Asset Fund and he loves to talk to talk to people about the importance of credit building while showing them too many photos of his dog Phoenix. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.