Artist of the Week: Sandy Honig of Rookie Mag

sandy honig art the wild magazine
Self-portrait of the artist

21-year-old freelance photographer Sandy Honig may be petite, but her vast portfolio of digital and film images is packed with power, vivid in subjects and color. Ranging from quirky moments and characters on the streets of New York  to tender snapshots of friends caught in alluring environments, her photographs collectively form a diary whose pages swirl with both youth and nostalgia, with jots of humor nestled in. Hailing from Connecticut, Sandy now lives in Brooklyn, New York and studies photography while holding a position as staff photographer for teenage culture magazine Rookie. The WILD recently spoke with the artist behind the lens to learn more about her work and dig a little deeper into the vision behind her punchy and spirited pictures.


Let’s start from the beginning! How did you get into photography?

In high school I took a beginner’s darkroom class, which I loved. I started to photograph on my own after the class ended, mostly shooting my younger cousin Julia and self-portraits. Like a lot of young photographers right now, I grew up on sites like Flickr and Tumblr, which were really inspirational to me.

How would you describe your style and aesthetic?

I’d say my work is surrealistic, sometimes comedic, documentation. I shoot mostly my friends and strangers on the street, but they all have a sense of oddity and humor.

You identify as a photographer of “character studies” on your website; what draws you to portraits over other types of photography?

People are crazy! I’ve met so many characters in my life; as much as we pretend to be normal, there’s always a nuttier side that we keep hidden. I photograph the nuttiness.

sandy honig the wild mag

You carry a camera on your person at all times; what drives or inspires you to never leave home without it?

Whenever I forget my camera, there’s something that I want to photograph. The best example of this was when I was walking to buy a camera from someone off Craigslist, and I saw the most perfect potential photo, probably the epitome of what I shoot. There were a group of kids sitting outside a bodega on a hot day, sprawled out on milk crates, reading and fanning themselves. That image is burned into my brain because I couldn’t capture it—whenever I start to leave home without even a point-and-shoot, I think about that missed opportunity.

Where, to you, does the power of an image lie?

In a sense of contradiction or suspension of reality. Something arresting that is out of the ordinary that makes you stop for even a second.

sandy honig the wild mag

Your portfolio is a mixture of snapshots and setups; can you speak of and compare your approaches to both types?

Snapshots are my one true love because they help me remember, and are infused with such a strong sense of memory and emotion that just looking at one could make me cry if I were in the right state of mind. They’re snippets of my life that I don’t want to forget. Setups are a way to create a different world, to fabricate characters or situations that I imagine. So, snapshots are for remembering, and setups are for creating.

Tell me about some of your shoots — which have been the most memorable and which the most challenging?

I’ve been doing a lot of GIF shoots lately: shooting video and adding animations in postproduction. I had a really difficult time shooting my most recent one, “Welcome To Burgertown,” because I was pressed for time and all of the studios were full. I set up in a small room with a green screen tacked to the wall, with minimal lighting and time. But in that way, it was also the most memorable, because despite all of the mishaps, we pulled everything together. Also, I was shooting my brother and closest friends, so as much of a disaster it could have been, I was working with people I loved and trusted.

sandy art the wild mag

What made you take this step towards motion?

My friends Mike and Claire have been a huge inspiration to me in terms of animation. They both study photography but work almost exclusively in animation and video now. I wanted to try out another medium that is closely related to photography.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about photography?

I took a class with my favorite professor and art critic, Shelley Rice, and though it’s not a specific piece of advice, the gist of the class was not to mistake an image for reality. We worked extensively on Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, and this quotation really stood out to me: “In terms of image-repertoire, the Photograph (the one I intend) represents that very subtle moment when, to tell the truth, I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I then experience a micro-version of death (of parenthesis): I am truly becoming a specter.”


And, in turn, what has photography taught you?

The importance of memory, but at the same time not letting photos replace them. And maintaining a sense of humor and levity, not taking life too seriously.

Lastly, what is your WILD wish?

To support myself substantially enough to continue to document my version of reality.


All images courtesy of Sandy Honig. For more of Sandy’s work, check out her website or her Rookie author page.

text by: Claire Voon

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