Get To Know Alan Sarrol

Introduce yourself

My name is Alan Sarrol, I’m 20 years old from Plainfield, IL, currently studying Photojournalism at Columbia Chicago.

How was life growing up?

Growing up I always wondered who I was. I’ve had social anxiety for as long as I can remember, so most of the time I was pretty independent. It was until I found photography that helped me find myself, and in some ways it helped me express myself when I couldn’t.

If It wasn’t for Instagram and photography, I wouldn’t have met all the friends I have right now, it’s pretty crazy if you think about it. Shout out to all of them

When did you first begin to witness you had creative talents?

Well first off, I discovered photography through Instagram, I didn’t really consider myself a photographer at that point. Everything changed during my sophomore year of Columbia; we began to look at some of the early photographers such as Vivian Maier, or Dorothea Lange. Looking at all of their amazing work really inspired me to change the way I photograph. I always found myself most interested in street photography, I enjoy shooting street photography more than anything else, you never know what moment you might capture, and when you do, it’s an amazing feeling.

At what point was it when you figured out that you wanted to use a camera for the rest of your life?

I think it wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year at Columbia, I remember after class I would listen to music, and just walk around the city, observing everything, taking photos of whatever I thought looked interesting. I think I loved doing this more than anything else, nothing can beat it.

I always have a camera on my now, whether it’s my Canon 6D point and shoot or my Kodak KB10 point and shoot, I actually have about 40 rolls of film that I haven’t even developed yet just sitting in a box, and my room is filled with prints on each wall top to bottom, I think have a problem haha.

Lets talk about these mini series you work on. How do you decide on the themes?

Usually I start off by finding the location, when I’m bored I usually go out and drive around looking for cool spots to shoot at, sometimes I would find myself getting carried away driving an hour away from home. I basically decide on the theme depending on what kind of environment the location is in, it all depends on the specific environment.

The one I liked a lot, was Chinatown. Talk us through the concept behind these photos?

So basically I to figure out a subject for a semester long project for my documentary methods class, for some reason Chinatown was the first thing that came up, and it was only 2 stops on the red line. I pretty much walked around Chinatown almost everyday that semester, almost 2 hours each day. I photographed everything, the buildings, the workers, storefronts, anything I thought was interesting. There wasn’t any meaning to this project except that I wanted to capture Chinatown as a whole, from my perspective.

The workers didn’t like it very much, they started to recognize me coming everyday and they all gave me dirty looks. This was my first documentary project, and I could honestly say it didn’t meet my expectations. I wanted to build relationships with some of the locals so I can get a better understanding of the culture there but unfortunately I’m not Chinese so there was a big language barrier there.

I’m looking forward to more projects this upcoming year.

I’ve been following you over the years and I think you’ve finally started to find your style. That old vintage film type feel. Do you feel like you’ve finally found your style?

I have definitely been leaning towards the vintage style recently, shooting and editing, but knowing myself I know that my style can change at any moment. I think I’m just experimenting still, and I’m having fun with it.

I saw you were able to travel overseas and collect some amazing moments. How was that trip?

Traveling with my family is one of the reasons I began photography, and I am very grateful that I’ve gotten to experience many different cultures in different countries.

We travelled to 6 different countries, Austria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Everything was beautiful, the architecture, history, culture, and the people. I shot a lot of street photography on that trip, and I’m actually planning on making a photo book from that trip.

I took my favorite photo on this trip. This was taken on the top of St. Peters Basilica in Rome, Italy. While everyone else was looking over Rome, she was sitting there hunched over on the cement, this was the only photo I took. I had no idea why she was there or what she was thinking at that moment, but I think that is the most beautiful part about it.


When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as a photographer. I just want people to look at my work and I want them to connect to it on a personal level, I hope that people can look at my work and have it almost speak to them the same way it does to me. I want people to know the passion I have for art, and I hope that they can appreciate that.