Sage Sohier

Book Review Sage Sohier – Passing Time

© Sage Sohier

“I will always be grateful to the people pictured here––not just for allowing me to spend time making pictures of them––but also for how these interactions informed and enriched my life.”

─── by Josh Bright, March 4, 2024
  • Recently published by Nazraeli Press, “Passing Time” by American photographer Sage Sohier captures the essence of a bygone era. 

    Black & white photography by Sage Sohier, portrait of an African American couple. Florida, 1981
    Perrine, Florida, 1981

    Sohier has spent the last three decades capturing people in their environment in an attempt to construct a portrait of contemporary America.
    Amidst pandemic-induced isolation, she delved into her archives and unearthed a series of images captured between 1979 and 1985.

    Black & white photography by Sage Sohier, children playing, 1982

    Taken predominantly near her New England home, or during trips to southern states, they offer a glimpse into a pre-digital age, where the summer heat propelled people out of their homes, into the company of friends and neighbors.

    Perhaps inspired by the loneliness and forced isolation of the pandemic, Sohier was drawn to these images. She mentions in the introduction that she was captivated by the sense of “relaxed sensuality”. Whether it’s people lounging in their yards or children playing in the streets, this theme permeates the photographs, reminding us of a time when life moved at a slower pace.

    Black & white photo by Sage Sohier. People having drinks outside a house, 1983
    Worcester, MA, 1983
    Black & white photography by Sage Sohier, portrait of a couple with factories in the background
    Lawrence, MA, 1981
    Black & white photography by Sage Sohier, family playing, 1982
    Old Orchard Beach, 1982

    Sohier possesses the unique ability to capture almost strangers with exceptional candidness. The distance between the photographer and the subjects is nonexistent. Sometimes, the people in the photographs, seem unaware of the camera, while in other instances, they are drawn to it, posing for portraits with playfulness and a sense of freedom.

    “Intruding on people’s personal space could feel awkward, and was never easy to do, but most of the time it seemed that my enthusiasm was contagious and people were able to relax and be themselves.”

    Black & white photo by Sage Sohier
    Black & white photo of two children with bicycles by Sage Sohier.
    B&W photo by Sage Sohier. Boy playing with dog.

    Exclusively rendered in black and white, these images are both sensitive and captivating. They offer a glimpse of life in early 1980s America, beyond the bustling metropolises. Yet, it’s the genuine connections between individuals that truly shine.

    The infectious joy and genuine camaraderie captured in these frames serve as a poignant reminder of the vital significance of human connection, which in an age dominated by digitization, seems increasingly fraught.

    B&W photo by Sage Sohier. Family playing in river, usa 1982
    Amigo Hollow, WV, 1982

    Reflecting on this period of her life, Sohier is nostalgic, considering how it impacted her career
    . It was her twenties, a time of exploration and experimentation when she began to see the world and meet and understand people from various backgrounds.

    B&W photo by Sage Sohier, African American family, Newburgh, NY, 1983
    Newburgh, NY, 1983

    Looking back, she recognizes how her role as a photographer “has been a wonderful excuse to wander and to be inquisitive about others’ lives and experiences.”

    She mentions that many of her encounters are “still vivid in her mind” and wishes she had kept a journal about the people she met, the conversations she had, and the strange and wonderful things she noticed along the way.

    Black & white photo by Sage Sohier. Young boy and a cat in Florida. 1981
    Perrine, Florida, 1981

    However, in many respects, this is precisely what “Passing Time” represents. It serves as a visual diary of a significant period in Sohier’s life and a tribute to a simpler time that invites viewers to pause, reflect, and cherish the profound joy of human connection.


    All images © Sage Sohier

    Passing Time is published by Nazraeli Press and is available here.