Sara Swaty

Location: Los Angeles
Nationality: American
Biography: Sara Swaty is a Los Angeles based people and portrait photographer with a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work explores identity, gender, and race.  At the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2015, Sara was awarded the... read on
Eddie Adams XXVIII : Burning Man for Photographers
sara swaty
Oct 21, 2015

The Eddie Adams workshop is “an intense four-day gathering of the top photography professionals, along with 100 carefully selected students.”   Intense doesn’t begin to describe it. Our days were filled with photography assignments, lectures, critiques, and portfolio reviews, leaving us only 1-3 hours to sleep per night—if we were lucky. 

99 others and myself arrived at the Barn in Jeffersonville, NY, on a rainy Friday afternoon and were immediately greeted by cameras clicking, buzzing drones overhead, and dozens of people cheering and yelling, “Welcome!” “Congratulations!”, giving out high fives and waves, all genuinely excited to see you.

I didn’t know what to think. Was this really happening??  My brain flashed back to being greeted at Burning Man by the same level of excitement, love, and pure joy just at the sight of you simply being there.

Within a few minutes of meeting our assigned teams, Jimmy Colton had already given us an assignment.  We were asked to stand up and say “I love you” to everyone around us—iconic photographers, beloved photo editors, and strangers that would soon become our friends, bonded by fatigue, joy, and passion. 

I embraced my new family, Team Turquoise: Ruth Fremson, Pulitzer prize winning NYT photographer and team lead; Colin Crawford, LA Times photo editor –and Turquoise’s personal editor/cheerleader; portrait photographer and team tech, Pete Kiehart, and photojournalist Eric Thayer, our fearless producer.   For a few minutes, despite the trees and running water, it felt like being on the playa again, love echoing all over the barn.

The first night consisted of inspiring lectures from photographers beginning with John Stanmeyer, a National Geographic photographer--and the most poetic photojournalist I have ever witnessed.  His animated language, passion, and flow of thoughts were awe-inspiring.  I had never heard anyone speak of photographing tragedy the same way he did, he admits to having “…a beautiful obsession with the poetry of war and communication.” Stanmeyer also gave me the ironic gift of calm with his quote: “If you don’t have anxiety, you can’t be creative.”

David Guttenfelder & Ruddy Roye showed me the exciting power of the smartphone camera, a refreshing reminder when the rest of the world is telling you that the smartphone has ruined the photography industry.  I confess, I have a love hate relationship with my phone--I hate that I love it. I love that it gives me the power of silence, discretion, and access and hate that my other cameras can’t compete with that. But Roye and Guttenfelder taught me to embrace this new challenge, be empowered by it, and take advantage of my tools.

But the most impressionable part of the workshop was being welcomed into this amazing and growing community of like-minded artists—passionate, caring, and creative people who all have incredible wisdom and vision to offer.  Speaking candidly with artists without competition and tension weighing on us was so freeing.

On the last night, optimism was flowing through my body, and as I looked around at all of the smiling faces, I realized even our joy was united:

We had found our family.

Love you EAW 28!


By Sara Swaty —


Lucie Foundation Scholarship Shortlist

By Sara Swaty — I made the shortlist for the  Lucie Foundation Photo Taken Scholarship! Thank you for the support. Lucie Scholarship Program Visit the post for..

Harrison published on Reuters Wider Image

By Sara Swaty — I had graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology a few months before our first shoot. I spent the last year of school photographing gender..

ADIDAS Deerupt Event

By Sara Swaty — Design & Installations by Via Motus
Journals News

Burning Man 2017: Radical Ritual

By Sara Swaty — This year was my 3rd time attending Burning Man. Although I was prepared and excited, it was my hardest Burn yet, with temperatures averaging..

Hayley to Harrison in Expanded Visions at the Leslie-Lohman Museum

By Sara Swaty — I am excited to share that my work will be a part of the Leslie Lohman Museum's upcoming show, Expanded Visions.  This museum holds a special..
Awards News

World Photography Organisation Feature: The Story Will Unfold

By Sara Swaty — Thank you to Matthew Oxley for taking the time to interview me about my work:..

Women's March - Los Angeles

By Sara Swaty — After days of gloomy clouds and rainfall, the sun miraculously parted the day following Trump's Inauguration for the Women's March in Pershing..

Linda: My Mother Abroad

By Sara Swaty — Ten years ago, my mother and I embarked on a trip to France to reconnect with family.  The voyage marked a new mature beginning of our..


By Sara Swaty — Some favorite moments from travelling to Fes, Meknes, Marrakech, Casablanca, and Volubilis in Morocco.

2016 Highlights: XOXO Portraits

By Sara Swaty — Shooting stills for the Netflix feature XOXO was an incredible highlight of my year.  The creative and production teams behind the film were..

Adobe Creative Jam: LA Edition

By Sara Swaty — Friday was the Adobe creative jam, a tournament of sorts where myself and 13 other LA-based photographers were given a theme at 7 AM to shoot and..

Los Angeles March in Los Angeles Against Trump

By Sara Swaty — On Saturday, November 12th, thousands of people convened in MacArthur Park to march downtown in reaction to the election of Donald Trump as the..

Election 2016 // Farrakhan Shegog for Fragments of Ferguson

By Sara Swaty — It has been a difficult day. The sun set too early, the temperature was a record high--hello global warming!--, and there was a palpable heaviness..

Eli, September 2016

By Sara Swaty — Every time I go home to St. Louis, I meet up with Eli to photograph and catch up for my ongoing project I n Between & Outside .  I've been..

XOXO on Netflix

By Sara Swaty — XOXO is out on Netflix! Excited to share that I had the opportunity to capture stills for this beautiful film.  It truly takes a family to make a..

Hayley to Harrison on Elizabeth Krist's Instagram Takeover!

By Sara Swaty — National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist's Visura Instagram takeover begins tomorrow!  Beginning tomorrow, she will be sharing..

Hayley to Harrison @ Photo Independent

By Sara Swaty — Photo Independent ("the only international art fair bridging the gap between those who love and collect photography and the artists who make..
Awards News

Photographing the Donald Trump Rally for Reuters

By Sara Swaty — My first assignment published by Reuters was a Donald Trump rally in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. As I mentally prepared for the day, I..

#handadventures for the holidays

By Sara Swaty — If you'd like a holidays  ‪#‎handadventures‬  card, add your address here- . Would love to share a..

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

By Sara Swaty — Today is the 16th Transgender Day of Remembrance.  On November 20th, we honor and remember the lives that have been lost. Only 81 deaths..
Awards Job Listings

My 1st Trophy: Reuters Mentorship Award for Hayley to Harrison

By Sara Swaty — Last week, I attended the Eddie Adams Workshop, which was an incredible, life changing experience.  The lectures were inspiring and..

Thank you Instagram!

By Sara Swaty — What a wonderful surprise to be included in  Instagram 's featured Emerging Photojournalists with my talented peers from Eddie Adams XXVIII!!..

Gladys Knight

By Sara Swaty — New work up on

People of the Playa: Burning Man

By Sara Swaty — Burning Man is impossible to describe.  It's an incredible artistic experiment where around 70,000 people choose to live in the desert for a..
Join us
for more access