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Emotive portraits that convey a story and a homage to people who died of COVID-19 by Sarah Bultitude

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sarah Bultitude grew up surrounded by photography. Her Grandfather and Father were both avid amateur photographers. She loved watching prints emerge from her Father’s garage darkroom and sat through countless slide show evenings viewing her Grandfather’s travel photos. It wasn’t until her mid 20’s living in Portland, Oregon, that she attended night classes on film photography, development and print. Photography lingered as a strong background passion for many years as she raised a family.

Today, she primarily shoots digital, but still loves the intimate experience of shooting black and white film, which flows through into her digital work.

Sarah uses photography to communicate how she responds to current events, nature and the world around her. Often preferring black and white, she creates emotive portraits that convey a story, and a fragility/strength, embracing a variety of techniques.


The “Hollow” images were inspired by empathy to those who lost their lives to Covid-19. On nature walks, I became preoccupied with the form of an empty garment and how to photograph it to look occupied. This led me to conduct many trials in the studio to get the effect I could clearly visualise, but had no idea how to execute. Daily numbers of human mortality due of the virus weighed on me. My main goal was to fill the empty dress with a beautiful, human movement to honour their lives lost. It was the most focused I have felt in a while and despite many failures, I would not give up! The results are true to my original vision.






Every Spring, I find myself drawn to new blooms and often glaze over thinking of ways to photograph them. Here, I wanted to create something that played on a bridal flower girl. The timing of each image was driven by nature’s seasonal rhythm of when the flower would blown.  These evolved into portraits of girls hair and flowers, as opposed to a smiling child on a wedding day. I wanted them to feel timeless so I added a vintage aesthetic in post production. It’s currently Spring in New Zealand and true to form, I am already devising new ideas!






“Sanctum” is a series of work undertaken during Lockdown in New Zealand. The stripping away of the usual routines enabled time to think deeply about the impact and uncertainty of Lockdown, with a view to avoid the obvious of masks, gloves and hand sanitising. Whilst I felt afraid and unsure what was ahead of us, our home provided a sanctum from the constant media updates and the outside world in crisis. It was a very productive time for me and felt like an artist residency within my own home. Photography helped ease the stress of the uncertainty. Nature walks with my dogs inspired the work greatly to depict form, fragility and movement, and in many, a place of silent solitude. 






This series explores the resilience of children living with health issues in my home town. With sparse public specialist health care, many face travel to other centres in the country for care. With one family already totalling over 46,000 km in travel for treatment. This has an impact on family finances and time off work for parents, and school for the child. I created a series of black and white diptychs consisting of portrait shots portraying the children positively, whilst the accompanying image of their significant medical item sits in bold contrast beside them. My aim was to make the children the star of the show and to help their voice be heard.





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2020 - Solo Show “Sanctum”, Queenstown Contemporary Gallery

2019 - “Life Force” ‘Queenstown Art Now’, Queenstown Contemporary Gallery

2019 - “Doesn’t Add Up” Mother f-stop Travelling Exhibition, Oklahoma City University, USA

2019 - “Some of her Parts” Three Lakes Cultural Trust Launch, Queenstown Contemporary Gallery

2019 - “Good Medicine” Series, Queenstown Contemporary Gallery



2020 - Grand Winner, B&W Child Photo Competition, 1st Half. 1st Place, Fine Art, 

3rd Place, Fine Art, 2 x Honorable Mentions, Fine Art, 1 x Nominee, Fine Art.

2020 - Monochrome Awards - Honorable Mention, Fine Art : 2 x Honorable Mentions, Portrait

2019 - International Photo Competition, 2nd Place, People Children

2019 - International Photo Competition, 3 x Honorable Mentions, People/Portrait Category

Honorable Mention, Children;  Honorable Mention, Fine-Art Portrait

Honorable Mention, Nature-Landscape;  Honorable Mention, Fine Art - Landscape

2019 - Child Photo Competition Sept - Finalist

2019 - RISE Awards, Silver Award, Children

2019 - B&W Child Photo Competition, 2nd Half - Honorable Mention, Fine Art, 

Honorable Mention, Lifestyle

2019 - B&W Child Photo Competition, 1st Half - Honorable Mention, Fine Art

2018 - B&W Child Photo Competition, 2nd Half - 3 x Nominations

2018 - International Photography Awards - One Shot Harmony - Honorable Mention 



2019 - “Well Connected” and “Forsaken” - Shots Magazine, Fall Issue #145

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