Hi, my name is Sam! I am so not a formal person and if anything it makes me uncomfortable. Just get to know me for me and not by my accomplishments only. I strongly dislike using the title “Award Winning Photographer”. It sounds so pretentious to me and anyone can win an award. I feel like when you start using over embellished titles like that, you’re opening doors to allow fake people into your life. I want real friendships and real connections with people, galleries, and other artists. Yes, you must keep it professional to a certain degree, but why can’t I have a good relationship with others within my creative life?
I’ve been doing photography for 15 years now – that includes professionally and unprofessionally. I’ve always loved the arts. I was for sure that I’d grow up to be a singer or a contemporary drawing artist in graphite. Well, I never thought I’d be so crippling shy when it came to singing that I don’t even sing in front of my own family. So, what about drawing? I was good at it. I really was but I didn’t have a passion for it as much as I thought I did as a child. Photography was never something that I thought would be more than just for fun.
I’ve always had a fascination with cameras growing up but I never for one moment thought it would be the rest of my life. I didn’t start having this feeling of wanting to do more with photography until I was about 13 years old. I got particularly interested in it after watching America’s Next Top Model. Like, the very first few seasons. I was blown away by the beautiful artwork that was being created and for a long time I thought I wanted to be a model. After “modeling” for myself for a few years, I realized I had way more fun creating the photographs rather than being in them.
I still continued to do self-portraits for blinding fear of talking to other people and asking them to model for me. By doing self-portraits, I really began to understand myself as a person. I learned to love myself and my flaws, or what I perceived as flaws. I’ve seen myself grow both physically and mentally and now I look back on certain photos and realize I was so different. My core personality is still here of course but there are photos where I see them and just remember how sad I was. Aside from loving America’s Next Top Model, I really got into photography as a way of coping with childhood/early adult depression.
Using photography as a means of expressing myself and as an outlet helped me in so many ways. I was too embarrassed to speak about my issues. I’ve already dealt with so much bullying at school that I couldn’t speak out on something that would make me even more different. Though I’ve always enjoyed being different, I didn’t like being called crazy, dramatic, weird (in the not so creative sense), etc. I just wanted to be left alone and it was extremely difficult to be left alone in a very tiny school where everyone knew everything.
My family didn’t have additional income to put towards therapists or any type of medication if I needed it, so I never spoke out. I had to learn to cope on my own. I started off with drawing, sculpting, and piano/singing. It eventually lead to many other outlets with photography taking the lead role. I do have to say that I am quite proud of myself and how I handled extremely difficult feelings and situations. I can’t say I was perfect or even near that, but I can say I did it to the best of my ability without treatment.
Seeing how far I’ve come without the help of others, I continue to take care of myself and have made it a life goal to help others as well. My journey with photography was, at first, a very selfish endeavor. Escapism was and can still be my option to everything. With my work, I want other people to know that they’re not alone with the things they’re going through. You don’t have to feel alone in whatever situation you’re in right now. I’ve made it a very bold point to be as open about my life, mental health, and experiences so that others can grow and heal from them as well.
I will continue to tell my story for the rest of my life because I have a voice that deserves to be heard and I’m sick and tired of others muffling me out.