Today we’d like to introduce you to Gervel Sampson.
Gervel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a 60-year-old- African-American underwater photographer specializing in submerged portraits. It has been four years since I took my first dip and I instantly fell in love with going down under and capturing these special portraits.
Prior to my underwater practice, I had been a “regular” above water photographer for a little over a year. Yes, all this happened when I was in my mid 50’s.
I always loved photography, and I was always that person that had a camera handy and was the one always documenting everything and everyone. I decided to pursue it as a career after I lost my photographer brother to colon cancer, I knew I needed to continue his legacy. I was fortunate to spend most of my adult years raising my family, and doing lots of volunteer work, dabbling in interior design, but it was always when I picked up my camera that I felt alive.
So how I got into the underwater genre, four years ago I took a little workshop about underwater photography, I knew that afternoon I was going to do this- I became consumed with figuring out everything I could about it- After renting my gear a few times I invested in my own equipment and starting photographing anyone that would jump in my pool.
I have a pool studio at my home where I do my sessions. I shoot full time, in addition to underwater photography, I do a lot of above water stuff as well, portraits, boudoir, maternity, personal branding and a few select weddings.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Well, my road was smooth until April 12, 2017, when my husband had a hemorrhagic stroke. It was an ordinary day when I got that life-changing phone call that changed my life forever. My husband was in the hospital for 322 days. My life changed instantly and my business grew up overnight.
I went through really rough times, emotionally and financially. I was balancing everything, my husband is severely disabled as a result of the stroke and I am his primary caregiver. So there were times where I was so overwhelmed I just wanted to give up… but my happy place was always in my pool with my camera- there is a peacefulness being under, no talking, just floating, suspended with just the sound of my shutter.
Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
I am a portrait photographer. I specialize in underwater portraits. I am most proud of being an older person that started a new venture, something not expected of me…Most people my age are retiring.
What sets me apart is my underwater photography, it is a unique genre and I photograph a diverse group of clients… ages, ethnicities, sizes, etc.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success when clients come to me because they want me to photograph them… not because they know “me” but they like my style.
Of course, success as an artist is also being able to sustain yourself, I’m still working on that part every day.
But I love most when I connect with a client and I create magic for them. I also want my portraiture to be accessible and not something out of reach-
- underwater sessions are 425. Makeup is included
- Address: 8123 Stoneridge Drive Whittier CA 90605
- Website: www.gervelsampson.com
- Phone: 3104131429
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: IG @ gervel_sampson_photography_
- Facebook: gervel sampson photography
All images are mine. The images of me were taken by my assistant Mitchell Aragon