culture |  2nd january 2017

Many kiwi creatives end up abroad searching for something: new stimuli,  their roots, the love of their lives, a new career or simply fun. we catch up with photographer Sarah Burton in her new adopted patch in London.

words: russell kleyn

photographs: sarah burton


Sarah Burton studied at Massey University and honed her craft in Wellington before spending the last few years living in Melbourne and Berlin and traveling across Eastern Europe. She has been featured in publications such as Vice, The Adventure Handbook, Bricks Magazine, Contributor Magazine, If You Leave & Capital Magazine.  Sarah shows us a few photographs from her ongoing Hackney series, which is helping her identify with her new surroundings.



Hi Sarah, how are you?

Really good thanks :)

Where are you from?

I spent my childhood in Hanmer Springs my teenage years in Nelson and most of my adulthood in Wellington.

When did you get into photography?

I’ve been pretty enchanted by it from childhood and got into it more seriously in High school then Uni.

You’re currently based in London, whereabouts are you living?

I’m an Eastender. In the Victoria Park area of Hackney.


"This repetition gives a sense of belonging and identification for sure"

Is your Hackney series helping you identify with your new chosen neighborhood?

Doing the series means I go for lots of long walks all over the borough, but often in the same places again and again too. This repetition gives a sense of belonging and identification for sure. There is an affable energy here that I love.

You seem to be attracted by atmosphere & light in your work - how is the light in London different to NZ?

A little softer, and generally not as much of it, maybe because of the weather, maybe because the tightly knit buildings get in the way. But I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the extended golden dusks in the summertime.



Is it hard to balance your personal work with your editorial/commercial work?

Yeah, making a living in London means there’s not too much time left over for personal work! But I always feel a bit strange if I don’t have at least one personal project on the go, so it’s a good thing I like to be busy.

Are you managing to pay the rent?

Luckily, yes!

What excites you most about photography?

That light is magic. Also, when an image tells a compelling story while at the same time is breathtakingly beautiful.

What excites you most about London?

It’s multiculturalism, and being exposed to constant stimuli.



Yes, London provides great creative energy, but it can also be physically & emotionally draining - where do you go to escape the grind?

To Hackney Marshes which is a huge grasslands area with a river and wildflowers and the odd horse or cow and only a 20 minute walk from home.

How would you compare the UK/London’s photography industry to the industry here in Wellington/NZ?

Simply because of it’s size there’s just a lot more work here, but of course it is more competitive as well. When you come to a new place it’s really hard to start afresh as a freelancer, and I’m not a hustler by nature, so I feel really lucky to have landed a full time Mon-Fri photography position which just doesn’t really exist in New Zealand.

Digital or film?

Digital for work, film for personal. But stoked if a client wants me to shoot film too!



What do you miss most about NZ?

Family. Lots and lots of things, but mostly family.

When are you coming home to work with us?

Well, I’ll be back for most of January 2017. And planning a longer trip home, probably 3 months, the following NZ summer.






face book: sarah burton photography



throw some light @throwsomelight



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