Q & A with Photographer Sophia Schrank

I met Sophia last Spring while shooting our French Ribbon print collection at our local post office. We had a fun high-energy day with collaboration, and getting to know each other, that ended with us all being kicked out of the post office by a grumpy old man. You can find Sophia here... @sophiaschrank and here.

Angelina: What was your first job ever?

Sophia: When I was 15 or 16 I worked for Alta Tingle at store called The Gardner. If you've never been it is an amazing eclectic mix of jewelry, home goods and all around elevated taste! There is a store in the Ferry Plaza in SF, a store in Berkley and another in Healdsburg. I worked as a shop girl!

You have a cool photographer dad; tell us a little about him.

He is fantastic! My dad, Ira Schrank, works largely as a reproductive photographer for museums and galleries. He’s the guy that delivers beautifully when an artist with an all white painting needs the canvas fibers to pop! Its an amazing blend of creative and technichal savvy, and I have learned so much from him. I spent a large part of my childhood in and out of his studio in the Tenderloin, SF,  and he used to develop film almost every day. I hated the smell of the chemicals so much so the irony is not lost on me that years later I am a photographer that works with film.

He most recently finished a run as the head of a large restorative project, and is now home with my mom in San Francisco freelancing. I just helped him on a nutso project where we photographed stained class while on top of a rickety 100 foot scaffolding!

Was your mom was also in the arts?

Yep! When I was a kid she and my dad were in business together. She was a graphic designer; so she would design the books and posters for the imagery that my dad would shoot! At 50 she went back to school and is now a librarian! Incredible right?

What do you collect?

Shoes. So many shoes. I didn’t even mean to become a shoe collector but I have over 200 pairs. I worked for a shoe designer, began my collection, and when my grandma passed she left me her collection. All incredible vintage pairs, even more incredibly in my size, and I shoot a lot footwear, so I guess it's just fate! They're like beautiful little sculptures on their own even when they are not on your feet.

I also collect art magazines and periodicals. Right now I am really into Puss Puss magazine, Luncheon and Boom Saloon, and Aperture of course! The last one was guest edited by Tilda Swinton and was all about photographic interpretations of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I read it cover to cover several times!

What's your dream photoshoot; how would it go?

I have been fortunate to participate in several dream scenarios. Yours was one of them! I am hugely drawn to contrast. Particularly fantastic clothing and subjects in highly recognizable circumstances. It’s really fun to see the reaction of the passerby, most of the time, and something real happens when you don’t clear out a street or work without a permit that is also totally wacky and unexpected. I recently shot an editorial for a dear friend who makes these incredible pearl face pieces in a spooky stucco hallway and I was super excited by the results. As a freelance creative its not uncommon for me to frequent a dollar store for supplies rather than a Home Depot, but I am usually wearing something with insane ruffles or patterns, so really I feel like my low brow / high brow aesthetic is kind of like an abstract self portrait. 

What did you enjoy about shooting for Beklina?

Beklina curates clothing, and objects, that without even trying on I know I want, and in every color. The curation is tight, practical, and the original designs are in these universally flattering silhouettes in fresh and completely unseen textiles. It’s a perfect stop for my kind of woman and the brand’s real effort towards sustainability is fantastic. But more specifically you can tell a lot about a brand in the way a model walks on to set. While we were working together, Carmella and Alexis knew exactly what to do. Partially because they are great at their job and partially because the clothing has this very real character to it. I was able to get kind of lost in creating these women’s stories while shooting and that is such a rare treat. 

Do you have a favorite lowbrow eatery in Los Angeles or San Francisco or both? 

Oh yea! So in LA I am a big fan of basically any restaurant in Thai town. It’s honestly all great, and I crave Tom Kha soup literally always. In particular, although technically this is in Los Feliz and not Thai Town, there is a restaurant called Green Leaves. It’s  surprising all vegan, open really late (imperative) serves all kinds of Thai food AND interpretations of American breakfast food. After a long day there is nothing like going to a place that will serve you pancakes tropical style and tofu pad Thai at all hours of the night. My partner Eric and I might be their most committed regulars. I haven’t been yet but there is this new pop up barbecue in Glendale, Ribs Against the Machine, I am dying to go to. 

Unfortunately San Francisco is changing so much and it breaks my heart to see that so many of my favorite spots are vanishing. Seeing Luca Ravioli boarded up when I was in town last week brought real tears to my eyes, and I hope this new wave of mission residents understand what’s happing to the neighborhoods. However, Farolito is still going strong and offers the best Carne Asada burrito out there, and its counterpart La Taqueria is incredible too. There is a lot of great stuff in the sunset too - more of a cafe, but there is a place called Trouble Coffee right next to Ocean Beach that boasts a menu item called “build your own damn house” which includes a giant piece of Cinnamon Toast, a fresh coconut and a coffee.