Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography

Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography Professional photography, video, and multimedia for all occasions and non-occasions.

Sara Lafleur-Vetter is a multimedia journalist with a passion for telling stories of the underdog and the underbelly of society. As a videographer, photographer, writer, and radio journalist, she’s covered everything from social orphans in Russia to foreclosure and spoken word poetry in the Bay Area. She holds an interdisciplinary degree in Anthropology and Russian from Reed College. Lafleur began her journalism career in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she documented local NGOs including an organization for the homeless, a kid circus, and an institution for the disabled. Afterwards, she lived in Luxor, Egypt documenting ancient temple blocks for the American Research Center in Egypt. She recently received her Masters from the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she won a 2015 Dorothea Lange Fellowship. She’s currently based in Oakland.

Got to help out on this shoot with the kind and talented Alex Welsh​ for the NY Times. Shot a bunch of video, but alas t...
04/24/2018
What’s Cooking in That Egg Spoon? A Bite-Size Culture War

Got to help out on this shoot with the kind and talented Alex Welsh​ for the NY Times. Shot a bunch of video, but alas they went with the animated GIF. What can you do? Great photos by Alex though.

When the chef Alice Waters deployed her iron egg spoon on “60 Minutes,” she touched off a tempest that still resounds with charges of elitism and sexism.

Was lucky enough to shoot some footage for the NY Times with help from my friend  James Pace-Cornsilk and from Leaf.Chec...
02/12/2018
The quad jump is changing figure skating. Nathan Chen is leading the way.

Was lucky enough to shoot some footage for the NY Times with help from my friend James Pace-Cornsilk and from Leaf.

Check out this interactive video piece on figure skater Nathan Chen and the Quad. After helping shoot this piece and watching I, Tonya figure-skating is much more interesting to me now. It's so cut-throat.

Chen has to spin at nearly 440 RPM to achieve this quad jump. We interviewed former skater Johnny Weir and former judge Gale Tanger for this piece. Unfortunately Chen fell on his triple axle at the 2018 Olympics and didn't medal but his performance was still stunningly beautiful.

Impressed with the Times' new interactive approach to these Olympic previews.

If the U.S. figure skater wants gold in his first Olympics, his five quads will be crucial.

Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography's cover photo
02/07/2018

Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography's cover photo

Proud I was able to contribute a few videos to this report about how thousands of homeless people in the US are given on...
12/21/2017
Bussed out: how America moves thousands of homeless people around the country

Proud I was able to contribute a few videos to this report about how thousands of homeless people in the US are given one-way tickets out of town every year. This is the result of 18-month long investigation from the Guardian. Pretty unbelievable reporting here. Thanks to Alastair Gee for having me along for the ride...

Each year, US cities give thousands of homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town. An 18-month nationwide investigation by the Guardian reveals, for the first time, what really happens at journey’s end

11/04/2017
Santa Rosa Neighborhood Ravaged by Wildfires

I keep coming across more work that Leaf and I did on the wildfires in Northern California. Here's another snapshot of those intense weeks:

Ashes are all that’s left of some Northern California neighborhoods, as a rash of deadly wildfires rips through the area.

10/25/2017
Cannabis Farmer Surveys Loss of House

With the California fires nearing containment I want to share one more story from our time up north, this one from Mendocino County from one of the first legalized medical marijuana farmers - who fled the fire in the middle of the night with her young daughter and went on to lose her entire home, but not her crop.

This is someone who spent years going through all the hoops, procedures, paperwork and more to become legal in the system, one of the very first. Please consider donating to her gofundme listed in the comment section, so she can rebuild her home for her and her children. (Again apologies for the editing, not my doing)

With so many of the stories I heard up north, it was open the crops that saved people's structures, they seem to act as a buffer against the fire because they hold so much moisture. It's kind of the earth's way of saying, grow more green things! build less structures! pave less fields! If everyone had a wine crop built around their building or a medical marijuana field surrounding their house, they may have been saved. The moist crops seemed to have served as a fire retardant.

https://edit.weather.com/news/weather/video/cannabis-farmer-surveys-loss-of-house

Ashley Oldham is a cannabis farmer in Mendocino County, California and lost her home and part of her farm to the wildfires.

Our latest story for the Weather Channel about how people had to make abrupt decisions about which animals to save and w...
10/16/2017
Choosing Which Animals to Save and Leave | The Weather Channel

Our latest story for the Weather Channel about how people had to make abrupt decisions about which animals to save and which to leave behind up north in the wildfires. Hard thing to stomach for me being in their shoes.

Heartbreaking decisions for many residents in Northern California. As they rushed to flee their homes, they’re forced to choose which animals to save and leave behind.

10/15/2017
College Transformed into Emergency Shelter

Me and Leaf's latest for the Weather Channel... spotted this basketball coach guiding traffic of evacuees and medical support and donations at Napa Valley College earlier this week, saw local doctors treating hundreds of people in a packed gymnasium, and about 1/3 or even 1/2 of the community were Latino, and English was their second language, heard announcements come over the loudspeakers in multiple language, and everyone was doing everything they could in their power to be there for each other... pretty touching to see how California's communities have come together in this tragedy.
***
Looking forward to sharing a story about a Ukiah High School student soon, who saw members of his community who had lost everything sleeping in parks instead of shelters because they were afraid to go to shelters, where it was heard that they were asking for social security numbers to admit evacuees. The fear of ICE and the fear of being deported while you are trying to find a place to sleep after escaping being burned to death SHOULD NOT factor into these people's lives. These are the stories that need to be shared - I encourage all the journalists out there to go to extra lengths to talk about the communities of color, and immigrant populations that have been devastated by the fire and aren't homeowners, who don't have insurance, who don't have extended families to stay with in their neighborhood, who don't have the same network of support many families in Santa Rosa have.

Napa Valley College has been transformed into an emergency shelter for fire evacuees. And people who fled the fast-moving fire arrive with frightening stories, as others volunteer their time and supplies.

10/12/2017
Family Digs For Traces of Their Past

My latest for the Weather Channel about a family digging through the rubble of their home and hunting for precious few saved items:

A burned-out family in Santa Rosa returns to the remains of their home to search for anything that might have survived.

Thanks to the Online Journalism Awards for this honor and Rachel de Leon for the assignment and to Candace Ducheneaux an...
10/10/2017
Reveal wins two ONA awards for excellence in digital journalism

Thanks to the Online Journalism Awards for this honor and Rachel de Leon for the assignment and to Candace Ducheneaux and Jasilyn Charger for telling their stories.

We won for multiplatform investigations into the president’s plans to build a southern border wall and conflicts in North America between indigenous rights and energy expansion.

A collaboration between myself and my Liminal Films team - Leaf Conrad River, Romin Lee Johnson, & Jonathan Klett - and ...
10/09/2017
Tribal struggles beyond Standing Rock

A collaboration between myself and my Liminal Films team - Leaf Conrad River, Romin Lee Johnson, & Jonathan Klett - and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting

Our video series examines the ways tribes in North America have dealt with mounting pressures from governments and corporations that take over their land for mega-projects such as dams, freeways an…

My collaboration with Leaf about the damming of the Missouri River and the flooding of indigenous lands which forced fam...
10/09/2017
The Land Beneath the Lake

My collaboration with Leaf about the damming of the Missouri River and the flooding of indigenous lands which forced family's like Candace Ducheneaux’s out.

A woman remembers what life was like before her family was relocated from its ancestral home and her tribe from its most fertile farmland.

The video at the top of this article is my newest collaboration with my film partner Jonathan Klett for the Guardian. I ...
10/28/2016
North Dakota pipeline protesters pushed back from site after 117 arrested

The video at the top of this article is my newest collaboration with my film partner Jonathan Klett for the Guardian. I am totally rattled by today's events. Haven't had a chance to go through all the footage but I can say that Jonathan did a great job capturing the majority of these shots. You'll also see he gets maced during the video and had to have his face rinsed out so many other people present who were maced, pepper sprayed, and had either rubber bullets of bean bags shot at them. I had to hang back a little today because I was told if I got arrested I could be held in jail until my court date in January. Going to do one more collaboration with the Guardian this weekend and then maybe I can take a break. Even as I type this I hear another confrontation between police and protestors is happening. It's been nonstop for a while now, and I'm starting to feel it.

In any case, here it is.

Deploying pepper spray and armored vehicles marked beginning of new phase to thwart demonstrations to prevent construction of the controversial oil pipeline

My latest video coverage for the Guardian includes footage rolling while I was tackled and arrested at Standing Rock thi...
10/28/2016
Over 120 arrested at North Dakota pipeline protests, including journalists

My latest video coverage for the Guardian includes footage rolling while I was tackled and arrested at Standing Rock this past Saturday along with 70 or 80 other people at that site. My friends made sure the footage made it to my film partner Jonathan while I was still locked up and I saw it for the first time on my way back to camp from Minnesota where Romin let me crash for a night. It's been a surreal week. Hoping to get my camera gear back today after I was denied yesterday at Morton County Jail. I'm facing the same two misdemeanors as everyone else arrested that day- with a court trial pending in January. My friends and family are amazing. My partner is amazing.

Reporters and activists accused police of stifling free speech, saying they aggressively targeted nonviolent protesters with batons and pepper spray

Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography's cover photo
10/13/2016

Sara Lafleur-Vetter Cinematography & Photography's cover photo

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee, Raise my heart at Standing Rock.
10/13/2016

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee,
Raise my heart at Standing Rock.

Standing Rock 2016
10/11/2016

Standing Rock 2016

Hello all - I'm Lafleur - a documentary filmmaker and photojournalist. I've been shooting footage on the ground since mi...
10/11/2016
Click here to support Standing Rock Documentary by Sara Lafleur-Vetter

Hello all - I'm Lafleur - a documentary filmmaker and photojournalist. I've been shooting footage on the ground since mid-August at Standing Rock Reservation where Natives from over 300 tribes and their non-native allies have convened to fight the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline - a nearly 4 billion dollar infrastructure planned to be installed under the Missouri River, threatening their water supply and land. As we know, when it comes to pipelines, it's only a matter of time before they break, and the result is catastrophic for the land and water supply. As if that weren't enough, the pipeline construction would also disrupt many burial grounds and other sacred sites.

The Lakota Sioux Nation are no strangers to this kind of behavior. In 1868 they were packed into a reservation where they were promised no white folks would cross, but once the colonizers found gold in the black hills three years later, the white folks decided 'screw it, we want those hills' and gradually began to split the Sioux up into six smaller reservations, where they live to this day.

Skip forward another century to the 1940s, when the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program authorized five dams on Native land, costing Standing Rock about 55,000 acres, destroying "more Indian land than any other public works project in America," according to historian Michael Lawson. The Sioux elders, said one Native on the ground at Standing Rock, died of heartache.

Fast forward another 70 years, and the Lakota Nation's way of life is again being threatened in a very dramatic way. But this instance is different because of a prophecy. The 7th generation prophecy said that this generation of Natives would encounter a black snake - (the oil pipeline) - and that they would rise up and defeat this black snake and demand that their stewardship over the Earth be returned.

My dream is to team up with Native and non-Native allies and make a documentary film or a long-form documentary style video piece that would do justice to what's happening at Standing Rock.

This piece would go more in depth than the 2-3 minute news features and hopefully memorialize the voices and bravery of folks putting their bodies and families on the line everyday at Standing Rock in a way that tells a fuller story, beginning with archival material, and ending with a resolution.

The money I raise from this gofundme page would help cover the costs of airplane tickets, rental cars, gear, and meal expenses. It would also help me to bring on board a Native American Producer so that this film takes the critical angle this story needs.

One of the people who is already on my team for this project is Romin Johnson - a J-School alum , photographer, and up-and-coming filmmaker who has been working with me at Standing Rock for several weeks now.

Water is the new gold, water is life. This is the last remaining resource that fuels all life on our planet and indigenous people's across North America are seeing their water be contaminated and their people get sick. Native folks on the ground say time and time again - we're not just here fighting for ourselves, we're fighting for you and your children and grandchildren.

Help me to try to capture this historic moment in time with the help of other documentarians on the ground. And I can't ask you for money in the name of a Native American Revolution and keep it all to myself. So one quarter of your contributions will go to the camp.

Many thanks to each and every one of you,

Lafleur

(The above video features aerial footage from Dean Dedman Jr. check out his amazing coverage from Standing Rock here: www.facebook.com/drone2bwild. This video was edited by Chris Whitworth at The Guardian) * * * * * * * * * * Hello friends &...

This has been possibly the most memorable and moving two weeks of my life- spending time with and living among the 100+ ...
09/01/2016
North Dakota oil pipeline protesters stand their ground: 'This is sacred land'

This has been possibly the most memorable and moving two weeks of my life- spending time with and living among the 100+ tribes represented at Standing Rock Reservation here in North Dakota... Check out my first published video piece for The Guardian.

Pipeline’s planned route takes it close to Standing Rock Sioux reservation and Cannon Ball, which could endanger drinking water and threaten sacred sites

01/09/2016
OASIS Trailer

This is the trailer for OASIS - my first documentary short film. OASIS was awarded the Spike Lee Student Filmmaker Award at the 38th Denver Film Festival, won 2nd place at the Mountain Shadow Film Festival, and was an official selection at the APHA Global Public Health Film Festival, to name a few.

More importantly, people were moved by the film and the fight for equal treatment for all sick Americans continues, with Dr. Sylvestre and Orlando Chavez at the forefront. On Monday they will be protesting what they call Gilead Sciences' "Hepatitis C profiteering" in San Francisco. This is the company responsible for producing the life-saving Hep C drug - Sovaldi.

As Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborn disease in America, it is a real tragedy that the drug with the highest success rate and least side effects costs upwards of $1,000 a pill and that some populations do not have access to this treatment, including many incarcerated Americans.

This film is the culmination of five months of hard work with my colleague Niema Jordan. If you're interested in watching the full 26 minute film, feel free to get in touch. Thank you for your support!

"An informative and gripping documentary that takes a closer look at the health care system that left behind those who can’t take care of themselves and…

09/12/2014
Who's Hunting Who: The Western Australian Shark Cull

This is a short news documentary about the Shark Cull taking place in Western Australia produced by my colleague Mike Milano and in April 2014. Over the course of three weeks, we followed government vessels as they hunt and kill sharks over 3 meters long, although the sharks caught are not Great Whites and not responsible for any attacks. The piece also follows Sea Shepherd members and other activists in their attempt to save these animals and features interview footage with Sharon Burden, whose son was killed by a Great White, but is still opposed to the cull. Ultimately, the piece presents a grander story about the environment and politics. Enjoy.

This is "Who's Hunting Who: The Western Australian Shark Cull" by Sara Lafleur-Vetter on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

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