Summit Right Brain: New career, new life: Photographer Sarah Tallman finds a home in Summit County
September 20, 2016
For Sarah Tallman, moving to Colorado was a chance to start over. After losing her husband in a shark diving accident eight years ago, she not only looks at the mountains as a beautiful place to heal, but also a chance to change her life, including her career.
Tallman's been living in Denver since November 2010, but at the beginning of the summer she decided to try to make it work in Summit County. With her dog, Tucker, she now spends as much time as possible on the High Country trails.
"It was a spiritual awakening coming up here this summer," Tallman said. "It's like a constant therapy session every single day in Breckenridge. … You've got fresh mountain air and all of these gorgeous hikes and scenery … that fills your spiritual bucket."
After struggling to find housing and a job, she decided to do something she had a passion for, combining her graphic design skills and love of photography.
Before moving to Colorado, she spent years working a pharmaceutical sales job in San Francisco, "selling my soul to the devil." She hated her job, but she was tied to the purse strings, accustomed to a certain standard of living, she said. It was after she lost her husband — five months after their wedding and three weeks before their honeymoon — that she realized what was really important to her and it wasn't a six-figure income.
"I'm doing what I can … to start over and have a life that brings meaning, fulfillment," she said.
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In college she first developed an interest in photography, and she had two small shows while living in San Francisco. She's currently working to try to get a new business off the ground, Pet Printz, customizing photos of dogs and other pets and using design programs to manipulate the images in different ways. She hopes that the new endeavor helps to supplement her income so she can continue to live in the mountains.
"I chose to move to Colorado for a reason," Tallman said. "When I decided on a fresh start and new beginning, I had a list of things that are important to me. They are hiking and skiing and a healthy lifestyle. … Colorado is home."
Summit Daily News: What is your background in photography?
Sarah Tallman: It was my last semester of college I took photography as one of my art classes and just discovered I absolutely loved it. I didn't realize it but I have a unique eye, I see things differently. … It stemmed in college and I've just kind of slowly nourished it, but Summit County is where it fully bloomed this summer.
SDN: Where could people have seen your work before?
ST: While in San Francisco I did have two small photography shows … as I've developed my graphic design and marketing business I've had some pretty high-profile clients. I've had a lot of magazine ads and CD albums I've created.
SDN: What inspires you?
ST: Dogs. Flowers without them necessarily being pictures of flowers. I like seeing unusual patterns in everyday objects. … Some people might see a planter with flowers, I see all the cool little patterns on the ground. … Those are the things that capture my attention. Sometimes it's a tree stump, or it could be a fence railing, something that's visually appealing, and how can I take that and push it to the next level to make it more than just what it is. So that's where I've started tying in my graphic design and playing in Photoshop, and there's lots of great apps on the market that allow you to push your creativity that much further.
SDN: What do you enjoy doing in Summit County?
ST: My hobbies outside of photography, I love being outdoors with my dog. Hiking is one of the reasons I moved to Colorado. It's something we do pretty much every day, rain, snow or shine. Playing on the computer with graphic design, I feel like a dork because I doodle on the computer, but I've also created a few pieces of jewelry through logo designs. I enjoy creating in general.
SDN: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
ST: The same advice this artist gave me the other day is when you think you've done something good, push yourself further. There's no limits to creativity, and challenge yourself because you'll never know what you can create unless you push yourself that much further.
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