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Grad Guide 2020: Savanna Sinden

Savanna Sinden’s curiosity around the functionalities of the human body, as well as our diversity as a species, has led her to engaging with this as a theme in her portraits. The Open Window graduate, who double majored in photography and illustration, intends to showcase the unusual before introducing the viewer to the “normal.” As part of our graduate showcase, we spoke with Sinden about her approach to photography and the themes she chooses to explore.

What and where did you study? What was your experience like?

I was fortunate enough to study at Open Window Institute earning myself a bachelor degree in photography and illustration. My personal experience going to a design institute was well… beyond my comfort zone. It was the first time in my life that I heard of programs such as Photoshop, so I was clearly born under a rock. But I managed to get over that hurdle and learned more than just the basics of design. I’m pleased that I went outside my comfort zone and I suggest everyone does something that scares them EVERY DAY!

Why were you drawn to photography and what do you love about the medium?

From a very young age I’ve always been fascinated by the technique of “painting with light” and I guess there is something magical about how a camera captures a frozen moment, which was once called the present? I love how the medium is so flexible, you can manipulate anything just by how you control the light. We have the creative freedom to do anything if one puts their mind to it.

Tell us about the work you created during your final year? Any projects that stand out for you?

Well other than surviving my final year during a pandemic, I generally put a lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally) into my projects for that entire year. I did a variety of assignments raging from commercial product shots to fashion editorials, the list is endless, and not having access to a studio made things twice as hard, haha. The project that stood out he most for me was my artist book, The moments in-between. It was my final assignment of the year and I made sure to create a book based on what I personally enjoy seeing photographically.

How would you describe your style to someone who’d never seen your work before?

My photographic style has a Cubist quality to it as well as a repetition of chiaroscuro hues between the chaos. I think overall there will always be something feminine about each visual style I create.

What are you currently interested in exploring through your work?

I’m extremely interested in the human body; I’ve always been obsessed with how we function and of course how diverse our species is, so if the opportunity appears there is no going back for me. I’ve also recently been photographing male subject matters and I feel male models in the photography industry have not been explored enough. I would like to start these touchy topics as soon as possible!

What are your plans for 2021?

My plans for 2021 is going to be a very experimental year. I don’t intend on working straight away in a corporate field of only producing lifestyle photography, although I’m generalising now, but I feel I deserve the gap year that I never got to have. So, instead, I want to invest my time in learning techniques that will benefit me as a freelance photographer. I’m actually going to do a short darkroom course at Orms School of Photography and hopefully get into film. Other than that, 2021 will be an interesting learning curve for me.

Follow @savanna.sinden on Instagram.


Grad Guide is an annual series from Between 10and5, profiling some of South Africa’s most exciting creative graduates across the fields of fashion, art, photography and design. Find the full 2020 Grad Guide here



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