We got the chance to talk with the wonder Long Insland and New York Based Photographer Sam San Roman of Ego Alley Productions for Behind the Lens.
1. When did you start showing an interest in photography?
I can’t even remember how long ago I first picked up a camera. My mother had a DSLR since I remember learning what photography was. While she shot more as a hobby, she still had a desire to learn as much as she could, taking it very seriously, shooting every family gathering, trip, any real occasion. I started following her lead early on. I got a simple point and shoot, when I turned thirteen, and couldn’t put it down. I created my own photo shoots using my bedroom wall, and various outfits constantly. The classic “myspace” photographs, documenting my friends in Love, Robot and anything I found aesthetically pleasing were all saved to my computer, and it just kept snowballing from there.
2. Did you take class or self-teach?
I learned a large amount of Adobe Photoshop, and various other photo editing programs on my own at an early age. Due to moving around in my schooling, it was really hard for me to take a photography elective, so I learned a majority of what I know now on my own. My sister and I both enjoyed taking pictures so we learned a lot together, teaching each other new tricks and building off each other. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I took my first photography class. I immediately gravitated to it, staying late to talk to my teacher about techniques I could use. Now, I am a sophomore at The School of Visual Arts, in Manhattan, and the classes I’ve taken here have benefited my photography in ways I don’t think I could have ever taught myself.
3.What were your first couple of photos like? Do you think you’ve improved?
All I can say is, Yes. When I first started taking photos I had no idea what I was doing, but then again who does? You learn new things everyday as cliche as that sounds, especially with photography. From portraits to live shots, over time you learn what lighting looks best and what conditions you feel most comfortable shooting in. I couldn’t imagine shooting a band five years ago and now I’m touring with Love, Robot, making connections with other bands, and shooting portraits of people I’ve barely met. It’s exhilarating, and an amazing experience.
4 what gear do you typically shoot with?
I am in love with my Canon 5D Mark II, and it has never once failed me. I’ve had it for over a year now and I bring it everywhere I go. I’m always shooting some type of portrait, so I’m constantly shooting with a 50mm 1.4 lens, which is by far my favorite, and has been through the years. In my bag i’ll bring a 35mm, 15mm fisheye as well as a 28-135mm zoom. Lets just say I’m not happy unless I have everything with me. I’ll also have my Sigma EF-610 DG ST external flash, and a light meter.
5. How well do you research before you make a purchase?
Before I buy anything, I’m asking opinions left and right from my professors, and friends who also own camera equipment. I’ll also read up on it before even deciding to buy something because everything in the photo industry is so expensive, it’s really worth it to know what you’re buying and if it’s going to work the way you need it to. There’s always the option of renting equipment as well, and when it comes to one time shoots, sometimes that’s what you’re better off doing.
6. A lot of young photographers have a mind set of “more expensive camera, better photos” how do you feel about that?
I don’t believe that statement is true. Your camera is only as good as you are. If you are on the Auto setting on a Canon 5D Mark II and take a picture of a tree, and someone else is taking that exact same picture with the Canon Rebel T1i on Manual, using a light meter, and taking the time to make sure the white balance is perfect, that person is going to have a better photograph. More expensive cameras make it easier to take a good picture, it doesn’t mean you can’t take just as good of a photo with something cheaper.
7.What makes a photo good in your eyes?
There are a couple of factors that make a photograph peak my interest. I enjoy photographs with character. An unconventional way to portray a subject is more interesting to me then a classic photograph. I see so many photos that all look the same, and I find it really interesting when I see a photographer play around with the lighting or the setting of a shoot. I am a perfectionist as well though. For me to hand over photos to a client, they have to be perfectly placed within the picture, exposed and colored correctly. I’m a huge critic of my own work, and if it’s not done the way i originally planned in my head, I’ll sit for hours shaping it until it’s right.
8. How would you describe your shooting style?
Like I said in the last question, I enjoy the unconventional. My photographs while simple as they may be, are all from my point of view, they all represent how I think, the way I perceive the world, and everything I experience. My photographs incorporate the people I shoot and their personalities as well as my own take on them.
9. You went on tour with your sisters band, Love, Robot and took some amazing photos, do you plan on traveling with them often?
The experience of going on tour with Love, Robot was amazing, and I met so many amazing musicians. I work very closely with Love, Robot, and have for a long time, and plan to continue doing that. My sister and I are very close, as well as I am with all of the boys in Love, Robot. They were there when I first started photography, and I have learned a lot using them as my own personal testers. They have helped me out so much throughout the years, and I plan on being there to help document their adventure as long as they’ll have me.
10. What’s the best advise you can give to any aspiring photographer out there?
Just keep going! No one starts out knowing everything, and while it can get frustrating, if you truly love it, you’ll end up making work that means something to someone. There has been so many times I’ve gotten frustrated with my work, and told myself that I was going to quit, throw my camera in the ocean, and call it a day. But then after calming down, getting back to editing, and remembering how rewarding it can be when you hand over your photos to a more than enthusiastic client, it’s all worth it. So never give up, your work matters.