We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Nandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Truthfully, it’s the only thing that ever made sense to me. Though my medium has evolved over time (performing, writing, filmmaking), I’ve always had a creative mind and a passion for the arts. Funnily enough, photography was something I had never intended to become my career, yet here I am 12 years later!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I would say, what really sets my work apart is my style and my love for travel. A large bulk of my work is travel photos, and if it has people, I usually prefer to work on location. I’m greatly influenced by cinema and I aim for a strong balance of light and dark to all my images. You don’t often see that in travel photos, they tend to be bright and colorful or very true to life. To be honest, getting where I am today professionally has a lot to do with working the jobs that pay the bills. I think people outside the industry as well as beginning photographers all have a dream of making a living off the work you’re passionate about, but a big part of the reality is 90% business 10% shooting. I think the challenge at first was coming to that realization. It’s about doing the work that pays in order to fund the work you’re passionate about. But the more you work, shoot, and create, the more those two worlds crossover. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stay creative. It’s easy to get lost in the business side of things but it’s so important to carve out time to just play and have fun with your work. Give yourself a chance to experiment, try out new ideas, fail, try again. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to share everything you do! I think social media has made us feel we have to create “content” all the time, but the life of an artist is not about that, followers, or likes. Stay true to yourself and it’s OK to not share every single thing you make. No matter what I’m shooting though, I’m dedicated to the work 100%. Sometimes I’ll be on a dream job, sometimes I’ll be doing a small side job, sometimes it’s product, sometimes it’s an event. No matter what comes my way, I make sure I do the best I can do. I’m grateful for every job I’ve gotten because each one is a unique experience and new challenge.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As much as I love to travel and be out in the world, I’m so happy I’ve made New York City my home. All the cliché’s are true (both good and bad) and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Whenever I have visitors, I made a point to avoid most of the usual tourist attractions because NYC has so much to offer. Food options being the first and foremost feature. One of my all time favorites, El Cocotero, is an incredible Venezuelan restaurant on 18th st. between 7th & 8th Ave. Like most NYC restaurants it’s quaint, has a great atmosphere, and the food is just incredible. Because NYC has so many food options, for one restaurant to stand out above the rest is a feat of it’s own. While I love The Met and The Natural History Museum, truly the best experience you can get from the city is just by walking around. Firstly, it’s free, second every neighborhood has it’s own unique personality that you can see as you walk from street to street. Occasionally I’ll have someone who really wants to see the Statue of Liberty, in which case a quick ride on the Staten Island Ferry is perfect. Takes you right by the statue and again, is free! Tourist hack. One thing that is well worth the hype however is going to the viewing platform at One World Trade Center. The courtyard out front is a beautiful dedication to 9/11 and I absolutely recommend the museum as well. Heading up to the viewing platform on the top floor will give you the best views of the city, over Brooklyn, and across the Hudson to New Jersey. The elevator ride itself is so worth it! If you get a chance to go, you’ll see what I mean.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to recognize Chip Cooper for giving me a chance in my first photography class in college. Prior to that, I had only ever experimented on my own. I didn’t technically qualify for the class, but because of my portfolio he gave me permission to join anyway. And that really set me off on my career path. From there, I’m grateful for the community of friends/photographers I have. We’re often talking about our work, clients, experiences, helping each other with rates, contracts and pitches. It’s so important to have a community around you for the support and continued learning we all do daily!