We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Witt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, how do you think about risk?
I like to see risk as a growth opportunity. Most of the time, risk means potential change to our stable routines and opening up to vulnerability and the possibility of rejection. When we stay stagnant and continue to operate as we always have, sure, there is stability but not usually big periods of growth. Risk is stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue an idea or a dream you have for yourself and without risk you won’t know what is possible for you.
When approaching my view of risk in my career, I operate with the same mindset. I have been a portrait and wedding photographer for around 17 years now and while its a stable client base and income, over the years I have lost my passion for the routine photo sessions. A few years ago I decided to make a risky move in my career and pivot into a arena of photography I had only ever thought about.
When I went to photography school years ago I had daydreams of becoming a photojournalist, working for Rolling Stone Magazine or National Geographic or something equally as exciting. My fear of rejection and instability were what drove me to open my portrait and wedding business but years in I found myself not excited about taking pictures anymore. The sessions were always fun but the hours of editing time and my tendency to undercharge were draining my passion for my business in a big way.
Music has always been a huge part of my life; I swear I navigate life with a little soundtrack playing in my head every day. By happenstance one summer I met a few people who were interested in utilizing my photography skills in other genres of my field and I was very excited about the chance to shoot some live music. I had never done anything like it before and had no clue what I was getting myself into but after shooting my first show I was totally hooked and I would have never had the opportunity had I not taken the risk and asked for it. My very first show was everything you would think it was; I was on “the list”, I got to hang out backstage and with the band all evening, had a front row, all access pass and after the show I absorbed all the adrenaline and energy the band exuded and stayed up all night editing the shots because I had that. much. fun.
Since that first show I have had multiple jaw dropping opportunities come into my life and each one of them I have had to take a risk and be open to the possibility of rejection. However, I am no longer scared of pitching myself to bands, media companies and management teams. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? I get a no thanks?
Last summer I took a huge risk by applying for a concert I didn’t think I would get. I have shot loads of local bands at smaller local venues but had yet to be in a photo pit for a national touring band. This was a band I have dreamed of being in front of since I was 16 and when I hit send on my application my hands were shaking. Not only did I end up landing the gig, they opened with my favorite song, and the artist looked directly into my camera lens for 4 frames during the show. To top it all off, because of the circumstances surrounding the show with the pandemic still raging on, my photo story ended up being on the 11pm news and had over 75,000 views.
I am still shooting some portraits here and there but I have decided that if I want the photo career Ive always dreamed of I have to continue to take risks and seek out opportunities that will help advance my career instead of always playing it safe just because the money is good.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been shooting family portraits, weddings, newborns and small events for about 17 years now and while I am trending more toward lifestyle, branding and creative photojournalism pursuits what sets me apart from others in my industry is my background and that posing, communication and efficiency work in my favor.
I work with models a lot and when people comment on how quickly I work, I tell them its because I’ve worked with countless grumpy toddlers over the years so I have learned to be fun, quick and animated in order to “get the shots”. Most of the time my clients end up with more images than requested because I photograph every moment.
I especially love shooting live music and given my choice, I’d choose concerts every time. I think the reason I love shooting with other creatives and artists is because when we are doing something we genuinely love doing our passion shows through our expressions and it makes for the absolute best photographs. I think some of my favorite photography work Ive ever done is capturing pure joy and adrenaline on stage by people doing something they love doing.
If we ever get the opportunity to work together I’m going to find out what makes you happy and I’m going to make you talk about it and I’m going to want to capture you doing it. The joy in expressions when people talk and do what they love makes me do what I love and the rest is history. My favorite thing to do is upload the images to my laptop after a show or a shoot and scroll through picking out my favorite few before diving into the nitty gritty of deliverables and deadlines.
I now only pursue opportunities that are exciting or opportunities for growth rather than burning myself out taking on too many sessions that don’t challenge me as a photographer or entreprenur in some way.
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?
I’ve lived in Seattle for almost 20 years now. If you’re coming to town, lets meet up and shoot somewhere fun! I’ll bring the camera and we can hit up the fun spots like Pike Place Market, The Waterfront and get out into the great PNW woods for some amazing scenery! I promise we will have a great time and you’ll get amazing images capturing all the fun things we do!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to shout out Mercy Parker for being the first band to ever put me on the guest list and have me shoot their show. Without them I am not sure I would have ever known how much I LOVE shooting live music and working with musicians. Those guys brought me out to several shows, treated me like I was part of the band and have become some of my best friends over the last few years.
Other: TikTok: @lostfounddesign
All images are my own except the red plaid shirt photo of me with my camera. Photo credit for that shot goes to Brittne Lunniss.