industry image Sam Blakk

Sam Blakk

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Photographer & Retoucher
Industry Image, LLC (circa 2000)

Born in New Orleans, LA

Based in Los Angeles, CA, and Atlanta, GA

– University of New Orleans, (2) Bachelors of Science

– Delgado Community College, Certificate of Photography

– Delgado Community College, Certificate of Visual Art

TTR: What first drew you to photography and what inspires you?

SAM BLAKK: it was always a hobby for me back in the day, it was something that I did as an outlet outside of sports that I played, eventually people wanted to pay me for my services and 15 years later here I am 

TTR: What do you think makes a memorable photograph?


For me it’s not the finished product, it’s the connection I have as a photographer with the client/Talent in the process of creating an image that spearheads the whole situations which allows the image to be exactly what I envisioned.  I’m one of those photographers  who doesn’t  wait to the image is done, I actually see it beforehand, so therefore I have that good repor with my client/Talent which will ensure I get the exact image I portrayed in my head  before I even take the shot

TTR: What does photography mean to you?


Well the Greek Definition is “writing with light” but to me it means being able to provide someone with a lasting memory by capturing a time in their lives that they can reflect back on such as how they felt that day, when it happen, what was going on in their life.

TTR: How does black and white vs color play into your work?


Black and white is a pure grainer type of image, it enhances the image it requires you to be more detailed in how u work and angle your subject it being a grainy style of  image shows a lot more of purity and impurity ….. I pay more attention to the camera usage and it requires you to take a few more extra steps then you would do for a color image.

TTR: How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his subjects to bring out their true self?


It’s the most vital part of photography in itself, if the photographer and client/Talent can’t work well together on the same concept or theme to achieve the highest level of productivity it pretty much dilute the situation and at this point you’re just shooting to be shooting. I am a professional photographer and I don’t have time or interest in shooting just to shoot, if that’s the case I shot myself lol, other than that when I have a client in front of me I have to make sure I get exactly what it is I want. My past experience with models I’ve heard im fun to get along with, I joke a lot, I keep it real light but real professional it makes for a good environment. I have shot well over 5000 people in my career and I haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t had a good experience with me. I think my system is working and I stick to making sure my client feels comfortable, we get along well so we can get it popping and create some heat.

TTR: I know many photographers who are very picky about who they shoot, Are you picky with who you work with?


When it comes to my projects yes you better believe I’m Extremely picky on the client/talent I use because the person that is selected for my work has to fit what I want to convey in the image it doesn’t make sense to randomize whoever I shoot for I have to stick to the demographics specifily in order to get that specific image I want out  but when it comes to others projects that I am contracted for I have no say so in the matter but I will always give them the highest level content possible.

TTR: Locations and weather conditions seems to be crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factor?


Just roll with the punches,  I don’t work well with excuses but for me I’m a preproduction type of guy I know in advance my surroundings, Location, weather conditions, traffic, even electrical outlets, pretty much being prepared not to be trapped where I don’t know exactly what’s going on for me to get the right shot. I always peprep, If there’s a shoot that has to be outdoors no if ands or buts and the weather is too bad I just reschedule but if it’s something I can revamp and take into the studio I will do so and still create the same type of  heat.

TTR: What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?


DAMN HE DID THAT!!! Hey I can’t get it no more plain and simple then that, straight to the point

TTR: What do you think are some clichés in photography you steer away from yourself? 


One of the things I try to stay away from is shooting every model from the same angles all the time. There are photographers out there that I salute and have respect for I’m not a disrespectful dude in this game but C’mon swipe out your poses you just shot 50 models and out of that 80%  all back shots no variety and for me after a while it becomes boring.

The second would be everyone seems to be in competition with each other “Your photographers favorite photographer” all that craziness and foolishness in appose to just doing you and if it’s meant for you to collab with some great artist then collaborate, stop getting into these little lanes where you think you are better than each other as if they can’t partner up with others like team work is out the window. That cliché of I’m the best of the best no one can top what I do stop it because at the end of the day most of us are getting it how we need to get it I know I’m not starving and I know a bunch of other photographers that’s not starving so you aren’t better then the next man your just as good as the next man now let’s team up and we both can be the best that’s my mentality 

Now this one I’m being silly but I’m serious at the same time the photographers who want to be sexier than the models I don’t really get that either you’re a photographer or a model one of the two  these photographers that’s taking all these selfies getting all oiled up in the mirror like buff bag well to be in the pictures with the models just stop it like for real be true to what you do stop straddling the fence making yourself look stupid I’m sick of seeing that to be honest  I’m not a hater or nothing to eaches own but it’s starting to be cliché seeing it happen more and more  back in the day you had to beg a photographer to be in a photo with you nowadays they running to be in the photo with they lil bikinis on lol all this other craziness at the end of the day if they like it it’s on them but  stop it if you can help it please.

TTR: What were the difficulties you encountered when you first started photography?


I wouldn’t necessarily call them difficulties but more of the term “issues” and the biggest issue for me was transitioning into a different race pool, I’m not a racist type of guy or stuck on  ethnic specifics but coming from new Orleans and migrating to Atlanta after hurricane Katrina my portfolio consist of primarily African Americans, so when it came down to me trying to put myself into the world of non-African American photography opportunities,  it was kind of a challenge because Individuals could see that I was a great photographer but wanted to know how I worked with other races,  I respect it,  it made sense, and I understood it but it was a challenge initiative to try and get non-African American clients when they too were looking to see how I would work with nonblack but didn’t see anything in my portfolio I had to get them to understand I’m trying to diversify my work  I just needed someone to give me a chance down this other lane and once that took place it was on and popping from there ..

TTR: What are your thoughts on working single images verses projects?


There isn’t no difference to me I have to get in and complete the final image whether its one or 40 it’s going to be the same process that I do with one that I will do with 40 don’t make a difference to me 

TTR: What are the disadvantages you face as a photographer in this industry?


I have been politically correct throughout this whole interview now it’s time for me to talk my talk “FCUK BOYS” in this industry I really hate them. My definition of an “fcuk boy” is these guys that want to pick up a camera and consider themselves a photographer but all they want to do is fcuk. trying to get in a models pants by using the camera as their outlet to do so, giving free photo shoots, offering crappy work for $25 $50 and its creating a misconception of what the industry and what the services of a photographer really are.  What I mean by that is these models are jumping on all this free garage out here that they don’t understand when a quality photographer comes along with his/her packages priced 300 plus dollars their not understanding why and they feel they’ve done enough and are too great to pay those prices because so and so has shot them but can you compare the work? No you can’t, its two different levels, its two different qualities and at the end of the day professionals will treat you like a professional, you won’t have stories saying how this photographer tried to get personal with you like how these fcuk boys do. It is becoming aggravating because their taking away from my art and I’m starting to take it real personal, back in the day I wouldn’t have cared because they weren’t in my lane they didn’t bother me, as of today they still aren’t in my lane but as a professional I’m getting upset now because of what you’re doing to my craft, it’s no longer about my clients or who I service. As an example in the league all players, coaches, or anyone associated with them will get on them about straighten up your making the league look bad if not they will be kicked out the league, that’s what we as photographers need to have an organization for photographers to be certified in and be governed like any other organization in the industry that when clients do look to hire they can only get ahold of the best in the business and don’t have to deal with all the craziness that comes with it.  

TTR: If you could start all over again what tips/advice would you give yourself?


I played football most of my life anyone who knew me from childhood either thought I would be a football player or a comedian.  What I’m doing now, photography no one saw this in my future hell I didn’t even see it in my future. I started shooting as a hobby when I was 16 but I didn’t take it serious until I was about 25,  if I knew this was the path the man upstairs wanted me to travel and the field he blessed me with I would have created my business plan sooner and started this professionally earlier in life.

TTR: What is one question nobody has ever asked you which you wish they asked you? 

SAM BLAKK: Honestly, you’re the first people I have opened up to do an interview with, I’ve  turned down every interview for the past 10 years simply because I’ve always felt like this:  I’m here for business I don’t really have any reason to be personal with anyone,  as long as they know me from a business perspective  love is love but we are in a new world now with the social media and everyone wants to know who’s the man behind this and that every little baby step you take in life so up until 2014 I never posted a picture of myself online I felt people didn’t need to know me they just needed to see my work. I never wanted people to take their eyes off of industry image and focus on samm blakk  so after getting beat up for so many years from my team and models lol I’ve decided to open up and show the world who samm blakk really is.

TTR: As a photographer can you explain what the difference between beauty and vulgarity is when it comes to modeling?


 Beauty: can be captured with a simple headshot within the face within the eyes, pictures can pull you in by what you see and if you can get the eyes to tell a whole story in that image 

 Vulgarity:  When the eyes make you feel like you’re looking at something dirty, Many times the lines get crossed when you have models who don’t know how to show nor understand the difference between sensuality and sexuality all they know is how their old man toot it up in the bedroom so this is how I’m going to toot it up in the picture lol . Having this mentality usually turn the beauty of and image into vulgarity.

TTR: Which style of photography do you prefer High Fashion or Eye Candy?


 Neither I’m at a point in my Career Where 50% of my photography is Automotive, 25% Glamour i.e.  Eye candy, and the remaining 25% is Residential and landscaping. Before I would have been 100% Glamour i.e. Eye Candy but over the years I’ve just became uninterested in all the extra BS, I’ve cut back and focused on what photography really is and I realized I don’t need a human subject for that .As a model you need a photographer you’re not a model without a photographer, you can run your lips all day about being a model but you’re not a model until you get a quality photographer to take imagery of you. As a photographer models don’t make you a photographer their just an addition to what we can do, we can shoot new born babies, landscapes, and automotive As a result, Now I just allow people to reach out to me and hire me for whatever they need my services for I don’t seek out any eye candy models the game is not what it use to be, it’s not as interesting.. 

TTR: How Has the Game Changed in your Opinion?

SAM BLAKK: The Lack of professionalism and a lot of these young ladies out here who call themselves “models” are not models. They need to focus on being an accountant, politician, doctor, pharmacist something else in life that doesn’t require your face to be your tool of success because Many of them do not have the face to be a model, but because you have so many guys out here shooting just to shoot because they want sum ass, they aren’t shooting quality girls, so at the end of the day these young ladies come to the conclusion that they are models and it’s kind of ruining the game. It use to be beauty involved even if it was still about sexuality beauty was still a high level requirement of how a model was supposed to look aside from body types and shape which also played a major part but Now it doesn’t matter you can go buy an ass, go buy sum breast, and look like a boogerwolf and they still call them models. I don’t get it I’m not a dream killer and I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s self- esteem but be realistic in your dreams at least if you know for a fact that you are not model material, stop letting people gas you up to make you think you’re a model, stop listening to the guy in the club full of that ciroc feeling up on your booty talking about “oh baby you should be a model” and you go out and try, STOP!!! STOP!!! STOP!!! NOOO!!! STOP!! Many of these Magazine Publications need to stop featuring these horrible looking females who have no reason being featured. back in the day when you picked up a magazine you may have seen one if that, that you would ask yourself “what the hell is she doing in here” but the majority of the pages you turned to your reaction was wow she’s nice so on and so forth. Social media runs so many people’s lives that they can’t tell what’s real and what’s fake, they feel because they have 1000 plus followers I can make your magazine this and that but not realizing that that is all filter, you have a 1000 plus likers put a product out that your selling and see how many of them actually buy it and those that do that’s your real fan base and people don’t know how to tell the difference and its messing the game up and its becoming boring.

TTR: We truly appreciate you allowing us to interview you, what’s in store for Sam Blakk in the future?


 I have a MAJOR model project releasing early 2015… Some serious sensual content… not going to say much now, but just be on the lookout… bout to elevate the game with this!!!

-Sam Blakk

Industry Image

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