Sarah Takako Skinner, also known as Takako, has taken thousands of photographs throughout her career as an International/Bi-Coastal photographer, based out of Seattle and Los Angeles. Her goal has been one thing and one thing only: to show the dichotomy between what we truly feel and what we show to others. Takako’s gift is her ability to connect with the secret side of a person and her gift sparks the conversation about how, and in what ways, we can create our own realities on a day-by-day basis. Takako’s work is both intimate and voyeuristic. She plays between the seen and unseen, as she tiptoes you through the lives of the people she meets with shameless tenderness. There will always be something more to see in her work.

Takako says of her method, “I allow my subjects to express themselves in a new way, giving them the pathway to see who they really are or how they want to be, in a safe and exciting environment–to be aware of themselves in a way they have felt but probably haven’t seen.” Her photos are images of the transitions that make up our personalities–the darkest and lightest moments seen through the lens of simplicity and openness. The people she photographs use these captured moments for self-reflection. “I know the people captured in my lens are inspired and I want them to feel powerful, because that is what they are,” Takako says. “As a team, our goal is to make that happen in the most organic and natural way possible.”

Takako’s greatest strength is connecting with people from a place of risk, fear and passion. She is living a very authentic life in the hope that people will connect deeply with her story, and in turn, feel inspired further to expand their goals, hopes and dreams.

The technical nature of her work comes from her BFA in Photography from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. There she learned the importance of being critical of one’s own work and to ‘never fall in love with the photograph’.  But the soul of her work comes through her travels. She can tell stories about Fiji, New Zealand, London, Peru, India, Portugal, Spain and Australia and many more. She can talk you through her work in Paris, backstage during fashion shows of Haute Couture and others, the ins and outs of LA, or New York; or slinging her camera around the commercial fishing boats in Alaska.

And her stories are great. They’re funny, intimate, haunting, sexy tales of excitement, and more often than not, triumph through misadventures. But when the talk is over, to get the clearest perspective of who Sarah is and what she means, you simply have to look at her photos. Raw, high-contrast, sharply imagined and beautiful both technically and creatively, it’s Sarah’s still images that create the most motion in your mind.

Skinner’s eye for both depth and editing has been noticed - she’s been published nationally and internationally in magazines and recently showed her work at Art Basel, Miami. She’ll smile as she flips you through the pages of photos she took of Steven Tyler at his home in LA; and the funny instagram pics of them hanging out trying to look “normal”; later she donated two of her favorite images she took of him to raise money for his foundation Janie’s Fund; and can tell you with passion how she got sent to Los Angeles County Jail for a couple days for her Art when she asked a woman to walk naked down Hollywood Boulevard while photographing her; now the youtube video gone viral (it was taken down by Youtube and now up on Vimeo) is like a badge of honor to artist rebels Pussy Riot. Sarah raised eyebrows when she posted her images of Seattle’s favorite entrepreneur, Dan Price - in an unsuspected intimacy and rawness most don’t get to see. Currently Takako finished her shoot with DJ John Digweed for the cover of a new magazine during her quarterly east-coast-west-coast photography circuit.

When asked what solutions Takako is trying to uncover, she endearingly said, “There are so many amazing talented artists in the world who don’t get the opportunity to get recognized and then give up. My hope is by being transparent for your readers about my process, they’ll realize they are not alone and inspire them to keep pushing forward.” Her ability to relate with fellow artists also serves as motivation behind her passion. “The belief that being an artist is hard (or impossible) holds too many creative people back from enjoying the process to their dream. The Universe is waiting for me; my dreams have already manifested, and I just have to catch up to it. It’s a journey, and it’s a fascinating road to be on; no fear necessary on this path. Trust it; trust I’m worth it.” As Takako continued to show her vulnerability, she revealed that depression has been an ongoing battle for her, but it can be a blessing if controlled properly. By tapping into the feelings of pain and sadness through her lens, she simultaneously unlocks and releases those energies through the thrilling act of creating. The results are images that rock on the beautiful tipping point of deep sadness and pure joy– a combination that is incredibly powerful.

Having a grand vision about how she can affect humanity, Takako isn’t afraid to take emotional and artistic risks. She created “The Hope Is Project” after traveling the world with her camera in hand, thinking of ways in which to inspire people’s feelings of hope and possibility. The project is pure reflection from the perspective of the person taking the pictures. What does it mean to them emotionally? According to Takako, “It’s a very bold experiment that’s an active hypothesis put into action. They trust all of us involved in the process, so the photos they take are honest and authentic.” She continued, “What begun as an artistic experiment has transformed into a calling, a mission and a determination to share this opportunity with as many people as we can.”

Believing in hope is the most important attribute that makes up who Takako is, because according to her, “Without hope, the human spirit dies. Without hope, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. Hope is the pivotal fluid that runs through my blood. I live in hope, and that gives me life.”