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Sarah Lim is an Austin-based photographer specializing in documenting people, especially people with a quirky story to tell. She is an emerging photographer and one you should keep your eye on.

Do you have any mentors?
I’d have to say Austin photographers Sarah Wilson and George Brainard. They’re just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and always willing to help by giving me their honest advice, looking at my work, letting me borrow stuff to work on my own projects, and are always interested and supportive in what I’ve been up to.

Best career decision so far?
I quit my full time job to get out of college quickly and become a poor starving artist like my dad always joked. A week after I quit, I jumped on a plane and took an invitation to visit the Detroit Free Press. I put it out there that was interested in a job, even an internship, and 3 months later when they found the last minute budget for an intern, I got the call. It was a great experience and I got to work with an amazingly talented staff.

Favorite thing about shooting in Texas?
There are so many stories with so many kinds characters and settings.

The phone rings. It’s a photo editor calling to give you a dream assignment. What are you hearing on the other end of the line?
I love Americana and I have a road trip in mind that I’d love for a travel magazine or someone to hire me to shoot. I’d love to travel the entirety of Route 66, all 2,500 miles, on a Vespa scooter (aka Scoot 66) and document the trip and what I see along the way.

 I’d love to travel the entirety of Route 66, all 2,500 miles, on a Vespa scooter

Weirdest thing in your camera bag?
Right now, it’s notebook I got on my trip to Asia with a smiling whale catching a burger in it’s mouth that reads “I’m so high.” I’m pretty sure they meant happy.

Latest gear obsession?
It’s really lame, but since I’m just getting started, my obsessions as of late are really practical things like battery packs. I’m also geeking out over some DIY builds for video stuff, like a steady cam.

What motivates you?

having fresh content that I actually want to share really lights that fire under my ass

For me, having personal projects, and constantly getting feedback and constructive criticism really help keep me moving. I really thrive off constructive criticism and it helps me to keep pushing myself to do more. Looking at lots of other work and seeing what other people are doing helps with inspiration. I just recently started sending out a monthly newsletter, so having fresh content that I actually want to share really lights that fire under my ass.

What successes have you had so far that you were proud of?
I think being accepted to Slideluck Potshow last year really helped. I’m a bit shy about my work and talking to people (even if I am really silly once I’ve met you) so it really helped me to get my work in front of a good community of people here in Austin. I ran into Kate Iltis at Em Dash at a Christmas party and she had remembered my work from the show. Since she has hired me several times and continues to have an awesome amount of confidence in me.

Tell me about how your personal style is evolving…
For a while I had delusions that I might be a hardcore journalist that travels the world, but it once I was honest with myself, it didn’t fit. When I realized that what I was dreaming about really just focused on these amazing stories, and there are cool and important stories all around me to tell. After that, I started to let more of my own personality, sense of humor, and weird observations and interests show through in my work. I like looking for moments. Part portrait, part story is where I think I shine the best.

Advice for others who are starting out?
Some advice given to me was to wait 5 years: If you’re still around doing this in 5 years there’s no way you can’t do it. Only be satisfied enough to not doubt yourself, but don’t get too cocky or comfortable and not push yourself. Surround yourself with people who will give you honest advice without shaking your confidence in yourself. From personal experience, being a nice person with a sense of humor and a good work ethic doesn’t hurt either.

Only be satisfied enough to not doubt yourself, but don’t get too cocky or comfortable and not push yourself

Who are you inspired by?
Peter Yang, Emily Shur, Elliot Erwitt, Dan Winters, Diane Arbus, Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson, Ray & Charles Eames, Jessica Hische, Paul Qui, Dr. Seuss (especially “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”), and Mike Park from Asian Man records to name a few.

All-time fave photo books?
Son of Bitch by Elliot Erwitt

Most helpful part of your ‘education’ that wasn’t photo related?
Doing everything the long, hard, stupid way. I’ve learned more by trying and sucking at it, and trying it again a different way than anything I ever learned in school.

How do you define ‘success’ in your own career?
Right now I’m at such a baby stage, and I’m happy to be walking. I learned to stop thinking I needed to be ahead of where I’m at and instead try to celebrate every step I take in the right direction. Gotta take ‘em when you can get ‘em.

I learned to stop thinking I needed to be ahead of where I’m at and instead try to celebrate every step I take in the right direction

What’s next? exciting projects in 2012?
I’ve got a few personal projects in mind. I foresee teenage girls in big dresses at dances in my near future. I’m also hoping to shoot some more videos this year, but I’m not sure what yet. Maybe even a music video for fun.

Do you collect anything?
Do I! I am a connoisseur of junk. Coming from a family of pack rats, anything that looks fixable on the side of the road somehow finds it’s way into my life.That being said, I have about 100 Mexican coke bottles for art project ideas that have yet to turn themselves into something cool.

Hobbies outside of photography?
Does eating count? Also watching bad (and sometimes good) TV shows, cooking, drawing, and gardening. And most recently, learning bad words in sign language from the Internet.

Favorite bbq?
Just give me a big piece of greasy brisket deliciousness from Franklins.

Favorite breakfast taco?
Anything with nopalitos.

Favorite libation?
Mexican coke all the way.

Shot marfa?
yes.

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