June 29, 2018

Behind the Lens | My Photography Journey

Why hello there! I cannot believe that it has taken me so long (over 5 years!) to do this, but I am incredibly excited to launch this blog! It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for such a while now that it’s surreal to start actually writing for it. And on that note, I figure that the best way to kick things off is to share a little more about myself and my photography.

As for me personally, I’m likely quite similar to you: I have my good days and my “meh” days. Sometimes I want to go on epic adventures and sometimes I want to stay locked inside my house indefinitely. I love going out for big nights on the town, but I also really love just chilling. Basically, I 100% identify with being an extroverted introvert (technical term: ambivert).

That being said, photography has always helped me connect with the world. It’s about documenting something that exists and simultaneously imparting how I perceive its existence. I not only get to tell a story but I also get to experience one. It’s a harmony of extroversion and introversion; it’s a beautiful dichotomy that I absolutely adore.

Another aspect of photography that I treasure is the way that it builds upon itself. Sure, I shoot similar things in similar environments on a fairly regular basis. But the art really comes from taking each experience — both personal and professional — and incorporating it into the moment at hand. Inspiration is everywhere so long as you are open to being inspired.

This quote by this guy I know, Ansel Adams, sums it up perfectly: “You don’t make a photograph with just a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

Following all of that, I was recently interviewed by a local magazine here in Los Angeles (VoyageLA) about my photography career thus far. It relates to everything I just mentioned + it’s a brief history of how I ended up here. I often get asked about similar topics when I meet new people, so I thought that it would be cool to share as my first post.

This article was originally posted here on the VoyageLA website, but you can also read it below:

 


 

Samantha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?

As a kid, I was surrounded by magazines — my mom subscribed to nearly everything. I flipped through the pages month after month, always drawn to the striking photos. In high school and college, I pursued that interest by taking formal classes. Everything was still film-based back then; digital was a distant world that was met mostly with disdain by my professors. So, I spent hours upon hours in the darkroom, learning not only the principles of photography but also the science of it.

Right after college, I landed a job at a post-production house in Culver City that specialized in editorial, advertising, and fine art photography. I had taken my meager portfolio with me to my interview, thinking that I would be processing and developing film. Much to my surprise, I discovered that digital was the new normal. Sure, photographers still shot film, but those negatives were scanned in and edited on a computer.

Over the new few years, I learned an entirely new way of doing things via the digital darkroom. And once again, I found myself fascinated completely. Even though I mostly worked on the backend of everything, I soaked up as much as I possibly could. And I got to hang out with some really cool and well-known photographers on a daily basis.

Then, I was offered the job of Studio Manager to one of those photographers. I couldn’t wait to be on the other side of everything. Instead of seeing photos after they’d been shot, I got to experience everything that went into producing them. Being on set was my favorite; it didn’t hurt that the photographer worked nearly exclusively with celebrity musicians. Oh, the stories that I could tell…

Flash forward a few years later and I wanted to be a photographer myself. To take and edit my own photos. To develop my own style. To be my own boss. I didn’t know what to expect or even how to get started, but then a couple of close friends asked me to shoot their respective weddings. I was incredibly apprehensive at first — I had no idea how to photograph a wedding! But ultimately, I said yes and I dove right in. And, it turns out I LOVED it.

I was both excited and overwhelmed. I realized quite quickly that I didn’t know much; I still had a LOT of learning to do. So, I did everything that I could: I read books, I studied online tutorials and, most importantly, I kept shooting. My portfolio grew to include family and maternity, studio and headshot, even some boudoir.

These days, I think of myself as a people photographer. I’m still always learning; I don’t think that will ever end. But whether it’s a wedding, lifestyle or portrait session, I approach each one the same way: I get to know my client and collaborate with them. I adore those relationships and wouldn’t trade my job for anything. Creating art with so many different people is absolutely magical!

 

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?

When I first started, I knew how to use a camera but didn’t really know how to actually be a photographer. Thankfully, a lot of my first clients were friends… that certainly made the transition a lot easier! But I still considered each and every shoot a job, which was a bit more stressful since I knew everyone personally.

Over the years, I’ve dealt with myriad challenges: terrible lighting, uncooperative subjects, technical issues. The thing is, it’s always just been me so I’ve had to figure it out — often on the job. Sure, you can fix some things in Post, but one of the things that I’ve learned over and over again is just how important it is to get it right in-camera.

So after every session, I’d pour over the details and pick apart every little thing. For better or for worse, I’d break down my work and analyze all of the ways that I could make it better. I’d take that new knowledge to my next session and continue building upon my skills. And that’s something that I still do — it’s not always been easy (we really can be our own worst enemy) but I’ve been able to pinpoint and improve upon my weaknesses.

In terms of having my own business, that is a whole other undertaking. I pride myself on being a pretty chill person, but that can be the opposite of ideal when it comes down to running things. I’m the bookkeeper, head of marketing, website and IT manager, sales department, and everything in between. Wearing so many hats can be pretty arduous, but it’s also opened up so many new realms of learning. That’s what I come back to the most: all of the learning that I’ve done since I started this journey.

And that’s something that I will always continue to do. I’m constantly searching for ways to optimize my workflow, to streamline my client process, to fine-tune my photography. It’s all continually evolving, but one thing remains the same: that I LOVE doing what I do.

 

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Samantha Turchin Photographs story. Tell us more about the business.

I specialize in wedding, lifestyle, and portrait photography. That extends to engagement, family, maternity, boudoir, headshots, and branding. Basically, all kinds of life stages + all kinds of people.

In terms of what I specialize in within those fields, I mostly shoot on location. I love nature and incorporating surrounding scenery as much as possible. I’m a big fan of showcasing how epic everything is!

One thing that remains constant throughout my work is the use of color and contrast. I adore rich, vivid shades and a warm, dramatic tone. I also have a special place in my heart for black and white because, well, it’s awesome.

Ultimately, I’m humbled by each and every job. Clients trust me to document themselves and their lives, and that’s something that I cherish completely.

 

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?

Hah! That’s a very interesting question… one that I don’t have a definitive answer for. Looking back, I’m shocked that everything came together with the way it did. On the road here, I never felt like I knew where it was all going. But now, it’s as if each experience was intentional and that it all leads to here. Sometimes it was positive, sometimes it was negative. I just kept swimming, even if it felt like merely treading water at times. I know it’s cliché, but I wouldn’t trade any of it.

One thing that I do know for sure is how lucky I am to have such supportive friends and family. And a wonderful husband. It’s really made all of the difference in the world!

 


 

If you made it through all of that and would like to know even more about me, head over to my About page on my website! 🙂

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