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 forty-seven years later, they still are!  Although I have been an active wedding/engagement photographer since 2015, and am currently booked into 2021, 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 transformation from professional wedding photographer to professional animal portrait photographer in the spring of 2020!

Contact sarah@southlightexposures.com 

Professional Work 2011-Present  After many years of using a film camera on automatic settings, the digital age arrived, and I began to use a DSLR instead. At that time, I had been entering local photography competitions, placing and winning in subject matter mainly focused on animals and portraiture.  I  decided to enroll at my regional community college and learn photography in a formal manner. Under the tutelage of a knowledgeable, professional photographer, professor, I began to learn. My work began to be noticed locally in regional competitions, and I started entering work on a national level.  I was Mac-on-Campus National Student of the Month in May of 2014 with a portfolio including animal portraiture, human portraiture, and landscape. In fall of 2014, I entered the local, prestigious Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition held in Boone, NC every year and won and placed with two entries in separate categories, again including portraiture and landscape. In 2015, I decided to begin work as a wedding & engagement photographer, and as I continued to photograph and work in other photography fields as well, I was a finalist for Best of College and High School Photography in 2016 for Photographer’s Forum Magazine with a documentary style portrait of firefighters. Examples of  my photography work in the past years may be seen in the following galleries:

Weddings & Engagements




Travel & Landscape


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