I am Sarah L Ernst, animal lover and photographer.  In 1973 I took my first photographs using a Brownie Hawkeye medium format film camera. Back then horses and dogs were my favorite choice of subjects and fifty years later, they still are!  Although I have been an active wedding/engagement photographer since 2015, I began to realize that my love of animal portraiture was becoming a driving photographic passion for me. The art, skill, and knowledge needed for photographing pets and animals is much the same as wedding photography, thus personally it was an easy crossover from professional wedding photographer to professional animal portrait photographer in the spring of 2020!


Examples of my professional work from 2011-Present  in all my favorite genres may be seen in the following galleries: 


Weddings & Engagements

Following a quintessential wedding photography timeline and also integrating jounalistic type images throughout the day, keeps my photography style classic, vibrant, and thoughtful, wonderful for a sweet collection of wedding day images!



“Success in photography, portraits especially, is dependent on being able to grasp those supreme instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated, so light, balance, expression must be seen, felt as it were, in a flash, the mechanics and techniques being so perfected in one as to be absolutely automatic.   Edward Weston (1886-1958)


Travel & Landscape

Informal travel and landscape images are a favorite of mine to capture because I love to see and explore new places. To me the best luck when photographing travel photography is when landscapes have something breathing or moving in them. Taking the time to create photographs as I travel always makes me feel connected to the location, whether its a few minutes on a oft-visited favorite lake or across the country for rare days of sightseeing or taking the time to marvel in the beauty and history of North Carolina. 


Fine Art, Prints, Greeting Cards, & More

As a child, I was always drawn to realistic, beautiful images of dogs, cats, and horses. I still have many of my books from childhood because of their beautiful illustrations such as Black Beauty, Lad: A Dog, and all books by Marquerite Henry illustrated by Wesley Dennis, the Blaze series written and illustrated by CW Anderson, and, of course, any horse drawn by the amazingly talented Sam Savitt! Although I am not an illustrator, I am a photographer. As a photographer I must be knowledgeable in printing my work across various mediums such as the many types of photography paper and canvas. I use various tools when photographing to ensure that colors are correct when shown on a computer screen or printed. Computer monitors must be calibrated so that screens and printers agree on size and color of the finished product. From composition in-camera to processing an image in Lightroom and Photoshop, it takes time and thought to produce an image that is forever loved. Having a varied background as a photographer, I am always looking for images to be captured whether animal or human portraiture, landscape, or travel, and finding various printed means of expressing these images. Whether it is an image that would look spectacular framed under glass, or an image that is texture rich and would be enhanced by printing onto canvas, or a simple quality printed greeting card, I offer a variety of my work through a print-on-demand platform as presented on my Fine Art page. This provides me an opportunity to successfully create with my art and attract clients from around the globe. Examples of my photography work in choices of frames offered for sale may be seen in the following gallery:


Contact sarah@southlightexposures.com