As a photographer whose clients afford her the opportunity to travel the world, Blake is able to work in the most beautiful locations in a way that she finds creatively fulfilling. Best of all, she says, there’s never a subject she’s uninterested in, and never an overbearing art director suggesting she do it differently.
“I think what I enjoyed from the beginning,” she says, “was having creative freedom. After graduating, I was starting to do lots of little commercial jobs, and I was shooting a whole range of different things. Basically, anyone who would give me money, I would happily accept. With the weddings, I felt the most creatively free. No one told me how to shoot or what to shoot. People would just trust me to document the day for them. And I guess I’ve always been a pretty stubborn personality type in terms of, I only want to shoot what I want to shoot. I don’t really want to shoot other things. That’s why commercial photography and me would never really go well together. I’m shooting for me, those things that I’m really turned on by, photographic-wise. What people hire me for is the artistic side. People just let me loose and trust me, and that’s awesome.”
You can see more of Samm Blake’s photography at www.sammblake.com and at sammblakeweddings.com.
Samm Blake On Branding
|Samm Blake serves as a branding example for professional assignment photographers across all niches. She shapes her portfolio and marketing materials to cater to a specific type of customer—and she trims the pedestrian shots to leave only those that reinforce her brand. She may shoot family photos, but she doesn’t sell them. That wouldn’t help to set her work apart. Instead, she shows the aspirational images that make a select group of clients willing to pay a premium for her artistic services. It’s a lesson all photographers would do well to learn.
“I’m carefully curating my portfolio to only attract particular types of brides,” Blake says. “And I’m very open about the way I do work. I only shoot 20 weddings a year now, so I only need 20 couples to like me and pay for it. By carefully curating my portfolio to be a representation of the way I want to see the world, I don’t put any typical shots that a mother would want to see in a wedding photographer. I’m also very conscious about the groom, as well. Like my logo, for instance—I made sure it was a very unisex type of brand. I want the respect of the guys because, ultimately, guys don’t want too much butterflies or cherries flying around. My ideal client is like a graphic designer or someone in production or the film industry. I’m trying to get that guy’s respect, even if he’s just looking at my logo, to show that I’m not into the fluffy side of it all, even though my images are hugely romantic and nostalgic.”