Sarah Bauman: Close To You

Close To You illustrates the bonds between best friends at different life stages. A best friend is someone you see yourself reflected in, two entities that exist separately but become one. To document best friends is to document an identity at a specific moment, a way to memorialize a period and who you were at that time.


Could you tell us about any current projects that you are working on?

Close to You is a documentation of best friends of a wide variety of ages. The project specifically has turned towards aspects of touch and gesture in the portraits as a way to illustrate each friendship’s dynamics. The project seeks to visualize the importance of friendship in people’s lives, especially as it is often overlooked as we age. I wanted to document how friendships can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the human experience, and to visualize the very specific kind of emotional and physical closeness that comes with a best friend.

 Describe your project in its current state and what you’d like its final outcome to be.

Close to You is in the post-production stage, with the body of work already shot. Its final form is intended to be a photo book, and I am currently working on assembling the spreads. 

How did you reach the conceptualization of your current project?

Over the summer I had worked on a short film with two of my own best friends that focused on platonic intimacy and dynamics within friendship. Over the years, I always go back to themes relating to forms of relationships: familial, romantic, or in this case platonic friendships. I felt as though friendship, especially later in adulthood, is overlooked as formative in people’s lives, and so I wanted to illustrate the importance of friendship in all life stages. 

Are there any artists that have inspired this work? If so, why?

One of the primary artist references for my work is Justine Kurland, specifically her project Girl Pictures. I love her images tonally, which often have touches of green and she often incorporates her subjects in natural environments. The way she poses her subjects simultaneously feels organic and contrived, and her images often feel like they are truly suspending a moment in time like a still in a movie. Her images feel intimate without being overly voyeuristic, all of which are things I try to incorporate into my own portraits. 

 Describe any challenges you have faced and any solutions that you have found to be helpful in the creative process.

I think a lot of my challenges have been with photographing people who aren’t used to being photographed. I wanted to create trust and be able to create very intimate portraits, while also ensuring the models were comfortable and had a sense of agency in the images of themselves. I think an advantage with photographing best friends is that the subjects already feel very relaxed around each other, which helps open up a space for intimate portraits. I think the best thing is just to communicate a lot with the models, to get to know them and build that trust. 

 Have you had any success in getting your work out into the world? Do you have suggestions for other artists?

My primary mode of putting my work out into the world has been through social media, which is currently how I’ve been displaying images from the project, but I would really love to get the book in people’s hands once the layout is finalized. I think with a book you really spend time with the images, and holding something physically is a kind of intimate gesture in itself—so I think that mode of displaying the project feels very suitable for this body of work. I want to create an experience of flipping through fragmented moments, one friendship flowing into the next. One of the things I find hardest is putting anything into the world out of fear that it isn’t good enough, but sometimes it’s best to just let go and put it out there! Even submitting to a few small publications has been really great for me to get into the practice of putting my work into a larger sphere outside of my own social media. 

Sarah Bauman is a photographer based in Toronto, Canada, and is currently attending the photography studies program at X University. Her subject matter is often portraits of close friends, siblings, or lovers, blending the curated and the candid. Her images are recognizable from the soft pinks, blues, and green pastel tones used frequently in her work.