Sam Burkardt has proven herself doubly worthy within a short timeframe, racking up a second win within six months for the Creative Invite to photograph Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano at the trendy LAVO NYC.
I contacted her for another interview to gain some more insight into a repeat winner and her experiences. She not only answered the questions I sent but she also had even more good news to share. After photographing Emeli Sandé's opening act, Emily King, Sam showed Emily and her manager the photos she took during that show. Samantha was hired on the spot as her photographer! She's already captured several of Emily's shows, including a studio session, and Sam will be traveling on her upcoming tour as well.
Congratulations are definitely in order for her CI win and this amazing new opportunity!
How is concert photography different from fashion in your experience? I imagine it’s similar to a sporting event, trying to catch an amazing slice of action no one else can.
Sam: Oh it’s two different sides of the spectrum. In fashion photography you have more say in what your subject is doing. You can pose them, chose your location, come up with your own concept and more. You’re trying to sell a product at the same time as well. It’s a different challenge than satisfying the artist/sports team you are working for. In sports/concert photography you don’t have a say in what you want your subject to do or how they should look. It’s incredibly spontaneous and you must be constantly watching. With that said, I love all these types of photography because they keep me on my toes and push me creatively. I also found out that in concert photography they only want you shooting the first three songs. I believe that rule only applies if you’re right in front of the stage though. I like to make my way from the front all the way to the back so I can thoroughly cover the event. All the cool stuff happens towards the end of the show!
What was the biggest difference between the Emeli Sandé and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano’s shows? Biggest thing you prepared for? What didn’t you prepare for, but wish you had?
Sam: Besides the genre of music, it was definitely the location of all three shows that were so different. Emeli’s show in Boston had low lighting in a dark setting while her Webster Hall show was professionally lit and was a breeze to shoot.
I always research the venue and check out past photographs that others have taken to get a feel for different areas I could be during the night.
Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano’s show was in a club setting where the lighting was just all over the place. It was incredibly difficult to get clean shots of them, but I love a challenge and it helped me push myself to fight for the shots I wanted.
I think I prepared for all three shows equally. I always research the venue and check out past photographs that others have taken to get a feel for different areas I could be during the night.
Are you a ninja or are you like a warrior wielding your lens at these shows? How do folks respond to you being there?
Sam: These shows I was definitely more of a ninja. This is an awesome question by the way, hahaha! I was a ninja since I had to move around quickly and try to not be in anyone’s way. The audience treated me differently in each venue. When I was photographing Emeli in Boston, no one was bothered by me because I was really only in two spots for the show, but at her NYC show I moved from the front to the back. You just try to compose your shots quickly and keep moving so that others can enjoy their night without interruption.
As for the LAVO show with Sunnery and Ryan, everyone was asking for pictures since it was a club venue. So not only are you shooting the performers in a not so ideal lighting condition, but then you have to change your settings quickly to capture fans who are having a good time. Luckily you can program settings into cameras!
Do you have a subject or place you would love to photograph in your lifetime? A particular artist/performer maybe? Or exotic locale?
Sam: The list is endless of things I’d love to photograph. To list a few musicians, I’d love to work with John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, Dave Matthews Band, and Imagine Dragons.
I adore Coco Rocha for being flawless while making crazy faces and modeling the most fabulous fashion. In my opinion she’s a breath of fresh air in the modeling world just as Jennifer Lawrence is in the acting world. I admire them both for doing their jobs so well and being true to who they are.
As for locations, I’d love to go on a few safaris in Africa, explore New Zealand and Australia, Greece, Italy, and the Galapagos... but we’ll be here a while if I list off all the places I want to see!
If you had to pick one famous photographer you want to emulate, who would it be?
Sam: I don’t really want to emulate those who I look up to. I want to pick their brains and learn their techniques, and develop my own style that’s recognizable and inspires others.
I love Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Pamela Hanson, Sue Bryce and so many more. It’s impossible to pick just one photographer in an age where there is a plethora of talent!
What’s your most indispensable piece of equipment?
Sam: The most clichéd but true thing I can think of is all the knowledge that I’ve gained thus far. You can always buy new equipment, but everything I know now has taken plenty of time and lots of practice. I know I still have so much to learn, but I’m excited about it. I get to wake up everyday to a job that makes me incredibly happy and I’ve had the honor of meeting some insanely talented people along this awesome journey. With all the future projects I have lined up, I can’t help but be so excited to work!
Be sure to check out our previous feature on Samantha.