Location: New York, N.Y.
Sam Kaplan was born and raised in Boston, MA. He received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, that most liberal of liberal arts colleges. Sam studied both conceptual sculpture and traditional photography. Through commercial photography Sam is able to exercise his two favorite skills – creative problem solving and conceptual thinking. He lives in New York City with his wife, Laura, and hundreds of heavy books.
I went to Wesleyan University and studied Studio Art and Art History. I did concentrate in photography, but didn’t learn anything technical until I started assisting.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Simplify everything as much as possible.
What was your first photography job?
It was a shoot for Popular Science. I overthought everything and obsessed over every detail and, in the end, I tried to shoot what I thought they would like. I learned from that shoot how important it is to trust your instincts.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Try and learn from as many people as possible.
What inspires you about photography?
The possibility of taking ordinary, everyday objects and creating something extraordinary and thought-provoking.
What makes you go out and shoot?
I’m excited by the idea I can create something that people haven’t seen before.
What do you like best about the whole process?
Creative problem-solving. It’s fun and can be really rewarding. It’s really every single shot that has some component of that. Whether it’s figuring out how to best conceptualize a client’s idea or how to rig something on set, the problem-solving is endless.
How long have you been shooting?
Since high school, but I started focusing on commercial still-life about four years ago. I studied a lot of sculpture in college and would often photograph those sculptures. I like the idea that I can control everything within the frame, something that’s very difficult when photographing people.
What do you think it takes to be successful in today’s challenging and competitive marketplace?
It’s important to have a distinct style or voice. It’s also extremely important to be a nice, genuine person to work with.
To see more of Sam Kaplan’s photography, go to www.samkaplan.com.