Sarah Swetlik: March Photographer of the Month

Interview by Avery Fields/
Photos by Sarah Swetlik

Sarah Swetlik, a local photographer from Atlanta, Georgia, is Bokeh Focus’ March Photographer of the Month. Swetlik’s photograph received the most votes among three other nominees. She previously won Photographer of the Week during the second week of March. 

We interviewed Swetlik to share her advice and experiences with the greater Bokeh Focus community. She emphasizes the importance of being curious. Reminding us to “Always ask why!”

The photos in this story are Swetlik’s original images (© Sarah Swetlik).

What is the story behind the photos you’ve submitted?

Sarah Swetlik: a protest during the daylight with protestors holding flags and signs in support of Ukraine

Atlanta, Georgia
March 2022
Photo: Sarah Swetlik
© Sarah Swetlik

Swetlik: I took [several photos] at a protest requesting a no-fly zone over Ukraine in Atlanta, Georgia. In this photo a woman was one of many wearing traditional clothing and carrying a Ukrainian flag … she was marching from one side of Centennial Olympic Park to the other as fellow protestors followed and chanted behind her.

Do you have a specific theme or topic that is the focus of your photography?

Swetlik: I specialize in photojournalism. I try my best to capture visuals that are engaging but also integral to better storytelling.

What have you gained/experienced while working with this topic?

Swetlik: Dealing with photos that capture people going through trauma is a hard line to walk. While instinct is to shoot quickly, oftentimes there’s a lot of thought that goes into how to respectfully portray someone who is struggling while still employing creativity and honoring your role as a journalist. Working with this type of photography has stretched me beyond my comfort zone and taught me how empathy and art can coexist, especially when capturing a visual of someone who has experienced pain or trauma.

Tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t notice about you.

Swetlik: A decent amount of my clothing is from the kids’ section of any store I shop at.

What’s a piece of advice you would offer to other photographers to encourage their creativity?

Swetlik: Always ask why! This goes for camera operations and the art behind each shot. Why is the subject emoting this way, or why are they holding a specific object? Why does the light change when you adjust your settings? Your photography will always improve if you’re always learning. Ask questions and experiment.

We at Bokeh Focus appreciate Swetlik for capturing a point in time and sharing it through her photography, highlighting the people of the protest. Swetlik emphasizes the action while creating a story through her lens. Thank you for sharing your work with the greater Bokeh Focus community as well as words of advice, Sarah.

View Swetlik’s full size gallery

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