Checking in with Sarah Cramer Shields


What were you doing when we called?
I was photographing a portrait session and just playing and taking pictures of a little kid. So I was photographing little Stella.

Ever see the Cramer Photo sign above Christian’s Pizza on the Downtown Mall? That’s Sarah Cramer Shields’ studio. Readers voted her “Best Photographer.”

What’s your first artistic memory?
My first easel and my first set of paints. I wasn’t a Barbie dollhouse kind of girl. I was a girl with a pen and paper and a set of paints and Crayola markers.

What’s your blind date dealbreaker?
If the person is not a foodie, probably. Is this before I met my husband and married him?

Tell us about a piece of art that you wish was in your private collection.
Oh, so many. One of the original Gershwin pieces. I think it would be amazing to have an original manuscript from An American In Paris. It’s some of my favorite music. Anything original by Cole Porter, like the original player piano roll set up in the original Cole Porter piano in my house. I was born in the wrong era—everyone in my family says I was born in the wrong era. Ella, Etta, and anything by Cole Porter or Gershwin. Anything from that time makes me happy.

What’s your favorite building?
The East Wing of the Modern Art Gallery in D.C. I also really like the Sydney Opera House.

What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m editing three weddings, and I’ve done about five portrait sessions in the last week. It’s been good. I’m trying to get my e-mail down, because I hate going to bed with a full inbox—I like to have a clean inbox.

What music are you listening to lately?
You would laugh if you were in my car. Everything from incredible, classic music to the “Glee” soundtrack to Gershwin, to Muse, to Snow Patrol, to old school French music. My car’s music selection is incredibly random. Every day is different.

Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?
Can it be an architect? I love working on houses. My husband and I have rebuilt our hundred-year-old house in Belmont, and we’d really like to own and work on one of the modern homes, like the ones Alloy Workshop has been building. We’d like to get cool people in the houses and spread them around town. I have an interest in the building and remodeling of “happy homes,” as I like to call them.

Favorite artist outside your medium?
Julia Child.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Be a teacher of the arts, actually. Teaching makes me nervous.