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Samm Blake: The Art Of Emotion

Photo by Samm Blake

“The 24mm I use more for reception or getting ready,” she says, “dancing shots, or if I’m in a tight room. And the 85mm is pretty much only for ceremony and a bit of reception. I’m getting wider and wider as I shoot over the years. Three years ago, I would have said 85 and 50 were my main lenses, but now I just love images that have lots of space in them. I think photographers just try to fill the frame too much when they’re starting out. I always love images that have room to breathe.”

In post, Blake employs a light touch, although her editing is fairly involved, with images getting color-corrected in Lightroom before each is refined in Photoshop. She uses postprocessing to create images that feel natural, even traditional, in the sense that they harken back to a bygone era. Her best advice to photographers trying to refine their visual style in a world where anything is possible is to keep it simple and consistent.

Blake’s best advice is to refine your own personal style and keep it consistent throughout your portfolio. Consistency fosters trust, allowing intimate moments to be captured and the resulting photos to exceed the expectations of the couple. While Blake shoots color images, she has become known for her black-and-white photography that adds a hint of nostalgia. Her careful portfolio editing that focuses on stylistic moments instead of traditional portraits makes her work stand out and ensures she’s hired by couples who embrace her artistic vision.

“Have one color look,” Blake says, “and have one black-and-white look. Earlier this year, I taught a photography class and I did portfolio reviews. I reviewed 85 people one day, and my biggest critique was inconsistent editing. If I was a client hiring a photographer, I want a pretty clear idea of how the images are going to look. I don’t want to hire a photographer and then in editing that week they’re in a yellow phase, so everything is looking yellow. I think this is also because I shot my first five years as a wedding photographer on film. I’m always in my head trying to create a very clean color image, just very classic, something that’s not going to date. I just try to make my images look like film. I want the feeling a photograph gives to be the most obvious thing and then the post production to be secondary.”

Blake’s portfolio intermingles color images with beautiful black-and-white. She says black-and-white has become her signature look, something for which she’s specifically hired.

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