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Meet Sam Hardy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Hardy.

Sam, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Hi there! My name is Sam and I am a senior at USC studying Psychology with a double minor in Forensics and Criminality & Individuals, Societies, and Aging. When I’m not doing portrait photography, I’m also an on-campus Tour Guide with the USC Admission Center, a Research Assistant in the Child Interviewing Lab in our Gould School of Law, and a Co-Founder of a volunteering organization at USC called Glamour Gals! I grew up in Sierra Madre (located right next to Pasadena) and am very grateful to have been close to my mom, dad, and little brother throughout my college experience.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved taking pictures. At seven or eight years old, I remember sneaking away from family gatherings and holiday celebrations with my mom’s camera in hand. Whether snapping photos of smiling faces, nearby insects, or fun decorations, I found such joy in the creation process. My friends and I even used to design our own backyard photo shoots involving funky outfits and colorful makeup. Mom and Dad gave me my own small digital pink camera for my ninth birthday, which made me the happiest human – what a gift to be able to shoot whenever and wherever!

When I first realized I really wanted to pursue portrait photography, I was a freshman in college. Throughout high school, I had completed various holiday card shoots and graduation pictures for friends – however, I really didn’t have the right equipment for the portraits I wanted to capture. Even though my camera allowed me to film awesome pieces for my movie-making classes, it really didn’t give me much freedom on the portrait side. Honestly, I remember feeling so frustrated during that time because the vision in my head rarely matched the outcome on the computer screen! If I wanted to step up my portrait game, I knew it was going to be necessary to really invest in the right camera/lens/lighting combination.

After months of saving money from my on-campus job and a couple of trips to Samy’s Camera, I had the opportunity to really jump into portraiture. Friends started connecting me with classmates who needed everything from professional headshots to dance portraits, and I started crafting session packages that worked for all of us. Suddenly, the possibilities were endless! Between the sentimentality of graduation portraits and the creativity behind fashion photography, I just wanted to keep practicing and improving with every shoot.

When looking back at the nearly 125 photo sessions I’ve completed over the past two and a half years, I cannot believe how drastically my portfolio has expanded. This job really is the most incredible whirlwind of fun! Just last spring, I delivered 3,712 images to college students and spent over 200 hours on set and in my editing space. Ultimately, I am very grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and am thrilled to continue pursuing portrait photography.

Has it been a smooth road?
Throughout this journey, I feel incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by my loving family, endlessly supportive boyfriend, and enthusiastic girlfriends (who always offer to model)!

At the start, I think my biggest mental roadblock was fighting my perfectionist tendencies. I could take photos and edit all the live-long day, but the moment it came time to post on Instagram or share my images with others I would freeze up! When I first started out, I remember I would re-work an edit maybe fifteen or twenty times before finally landing on an image that felt all right. It has taken a few years and many hours of practice to finally learn to trust myself and my style. For anyone else struggling with this feeling, I recommend saving a few favorite files to a folder deep within your computer and returning back to them a week or two later. This helped me find a bit more perspective, and I quickly realized that the minute details that worried me were not distracting at all!

We’d love to hear more about your work.
As a portrait photographer, my number one priority is making the client feel comfortable and confident (on and off camera!). Whether FaceTiming with a model before a shoot or actively running around the streets of Los Angeles snapping away, I hope to create a portrait experience that fully focuses on that person’s unique vision. Each shoot involves an individualized design process, where I work alongside the client to highlight their personal style. Whether you love wild textures or monochromatic outfits, I want to capture what makes you, YOU!

What truly sets me apart from other photographers, I think, is the fact that I love getting to know every client on a personal level. I want to hear your stories, what makes you happy, what scares you – as a model or as a human being! As a psychology major who dreams of becoming a licensed therapist one day, I always want to emphasize that our photo set is a safe space for you to be yourself. Truly, the conversations that I’ve had with clients while traveling to a shoot destination are moments I still cherish years later. During our time together, I promise I’ll be your biggest supporter and friend!

My style typically involves natural sunlight, vibrant colors, and a glowy background. You won’t ever find me shooting in black and white – my favorite thing in the world is playing with saturation and watching the colors explode on the screen! Truly, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet (and shoot with) such unique, open-minded people on a near-weekly basis. As we near 2020, I’m excited to continue learning, shooting, and engaging with others in LA and beyond!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is the perfect place to live as a portrait photographer. In 2018, I traveled to England to take a class at the London School of Photography; the professor had to explain the term “golden hour” because many had never heard of it! Of course, our sunshiney city provides us with the most gorgeous locations for shooting. The beach, the city, the mountains, and the valley are just four examples of fun settings for your next session.

Our beautiful weather isn’t the only reason Los Angeles is great for photo shoots – the city is filled with so many unique people, colorful landscapes, and phenomenal learning opportunities. For anyone starting out, this big city sure can make you feel like a small fish in a big pond. And if you’re feeling that way, you aren’t alone at all! Remember, your ability to create is such a beautiful gift. Focus on your vision, fight for what you love, and practice whenever you can… here in LA, you’ll have no issues finding fun people who want to collaborate!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Sam Hardy, Photographer

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