She's ri-Freshing: Photographer & Digital Artist, Sophia Little

First, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Sophia Little and I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. I’m currently a graduate student at Syracuse University studying photography with a concentration in documentary photography. Apart from documentary photography I am also interested in editorial design and fashion.

Did you always want to study photography?

I’ve always been interested in art. Even as a child I used to paint and draw constantly. I always asked for art supplies on Christmas and my birthday. My mother is a writer and my father is an abstract painter so art was just something I grew up around, but I didn’t really get into photography until I was around 13. My mother had an old 35mm film camera from college and one day she just showed me how to use it and that was really when my photography education began.

What advice do you have for those who are struggling to continue their education?

I think my biggest piece of advice is to really just do what you want. Study what you’re passionate about and there’s no way you won’t be successful!

I enrolled in college as a human ecology major. (haha..I know.) I had an interest in the social sciences, but I wasn’t passionate about it. After spending a year taking classes I ditched the major and picked up graphic design and photography. It was a bit of a struggle starting a new major a year late, but it really came naturally to me once I figured out how to get past some of the roadblocks. A few professors tried to discourage me because the major was demanding, but I ended up finishing the program on dean’s list.

So, my advice is follow your dreams. Do what you want because it’s your job to make sure you’re happy and fulfilled. It’ll all pay off in the end.

Which photo series did you enjoy shooting the most?

I think the photo series I’ve enjoyed shooting the most has been the project I’m working on now. It’s a project about faith, suffering and how people overcome the difficulties in life by relying on their faith. I started working on this topic last semester and “Faith Alone” is the work I’ve produced thus far. But I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all different walks of life with different stories and struggles who have the commonality of their faith in God. I started working with the Sister of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities in the out skirts of Syracuse, NY and now I am working at the Brady Faith Center in the Southwest side of Syracuse, NY.

The project has really opened my eyes and allowed me to reflect on my own life and my faith. I really feel blessed to be able to tell the stories of the people I’ve met this far.

What is your camera preference and why?

Well lately I’ve been shooting with my dslr (digital single lens reflex), but I really like shooting with film. There’s something about working in a darkroom and developing film that makes the whole experience so much more personal and unique. Each print is like its own little piece of art. Working in the darkroom is really tedious, but it’s so worth it.

Where do you pull your inspiration from?

I want people to feel something when they look at my photos,  especially when I’m doing documentary work. I like to use a lot of low lighting and motion in my photographs. I want everything to emit some sort of emotion.

I think that most of my inspiration comes from my personal experiences. When I’m telling someone’s story, I try to find something beautiful in it that I can connect with and reproduce the feeling I have in a photograph. A lot of the work I do also revolves around underprivileged communities, resilience and spirituality, 

If you had to choose between photography, illustration or design, which would it be? 

I don’t think I could choose! I think they all work so amazingly together and there are so many things I love about each type of art. I like to use my photos and illustrations in my designs, or photograph my illustrations and designs, or illustrate and design photos (hahahaha), so I couldn’t see myself really doing one and not the other. 

Where do you see yourself/ your brand in the next five years?

I hope that within the next 5 years I get a lot more recognition and maybe even have one of my photo essays published by a big magazine. I plan to work for a design firm or magazine after I leave Syracuse, but I also want to make sure I have the time and resources to create the things I like.


Check out Sophia’s work here!