Before doing this Spotlight Interview with Sam Hurd, I knew he was an incredible wedding photographer but I had no idea that he was such a jack-of-all-trades! Whether shooting weddings, taking portraits of politicians and celebrities at the National Press Club, or playing in his band, Prisms, Sam stays busy and excels at everything he does. His photos are bright, artistic and full of surprises, and I’m thrilled to share them with you today!
Who inspires you? My clients.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t shooting weddings? I play in a band called Prisms (we’ve been playing since college) that just finished recording a record with Baltimore producer Brian McTernan (circa Survive, Thrice, Harvard). It was an incredible process and will be released early 2014.
I love your Epic Portraits Series. Can you speak a bit about how you got into being the photographer at The National Press Club? What do you enjoy about it? Does it influence your wedding photography? I was about to graduate from college and was looking for computer science jobs in Washington DC on Craigslist and I came across an ad for the National Press Club. I went in and interviewed and it turned out they needed a staff photographer so the interview took a turn in that direction and I was hired the next week. I worked there full time for 6 years and it’s the first time I ever photographed people. It absolutely impacts my wedding work in nearly every aspect. When photographing candids of people speaking at a podium thousands of times per year you become an expert in anticipating mouth shapes, blinking, and making interesting photos out of really tough situations. My Epic Portraits were a natural progression of my work there as I found myself with lots of downtime with crazy popular individuals visiting the club to address the press. Doing them has taught me endless lessons from being prepared, improvising at the last second, subtleties of light (inches make or break an entire photo for me), to the value of a stoic expressions and camera aware moments.
Where/what is home? Lynchburg, VA
What was your photography education? School? Self-taught? Workshops? Bachelor of Science from Christopher Newport University. Self taught in photography, though I have attended a few workshops over the years.
Describe your dream destination wedding? Already photographed it! Nosara, Costa Rica. Private mountain top wedding in a small surf town of Costa Rica.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge/most difficult part of being a wedding photographer? Doing something new – especially with posing.
What gives you ideas or inspiration? Movies and music album covers give me the most portrait inspiration. My iphone is full of snapshots from tons of sources. I like to shoot a lot of things that aren’t weddings (animals, landscapes) to recharge my batteries and get a fresh perspective for my wedding work.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a wedding photographer? Computer programming or server administration.
Do you have any advice for beginning photographers? The answer to all of your questions comes from one thing – shooting as much as you possibly can.
Any direction you would like to take your photography? I’d like to do more epic portrait style work for editorials.
Describe your workspace/studio? Nessa K and I just opened a studio together in Baltimore that has a huge open floor plan with exposed brick and hardwood floors everywhere. It’s nice to have a place separate from home to really focus and get work done.
Do you have a favorite camera or lens? Nikon D4 is my favorite camera. Leica 50mm f/0.95 is my favorite lens.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist? Steal like an artist.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a business person? Hire a good accountant.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a happy human? Run as often as you can.
Do you have a favorite image that is not yours? This image by Jeff Newsom embodies virtually everything I respect about what makes a good photographer. Pre-visualization, pose, light, quirkiness. It’s just overflowing with personality from corner to corner and not only Jeff’s but his client’s.
Do you have a (recent) favorite photo that you have taken? Sure do! Did this one last weekend (see below). The bride and groom wanted photos on a floating dock on a lake. Once they were on the thing I had a really nice height advantage to see a killer reflection of the colored clouds in the lake water. There was only room for her on the corner so I placed her and done!
What are looking forward to most right now? Photographing a wedding! I’m in the Bahamas with an hour before “Go time” as I write this!