New York based photographer, writer, graphic designer and documentary filmmaker – Sam Heydt shows artistic range in her images. They are poetry in composition, static moments of documentary, aesthetic innovations of fashion or a quirky nod to commercialism. She has exhibited twice at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and other galleries / museums in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe. Her bevy of clients includes but not limited to: W Magazine, VMag. etc. I met Sam during a special showing of her work at Cipriani’s on Wall Street and at another time during church night aka Thursday gallery romp in Chelsea. Now it is time to focus our artistic lens to this talented and prolific shutterbug. We find out what it takes to be creative, a woman in the industry and a photographer in this beautiful wide world. Let’s see what snapshots of wisdom she could share – says SAM I AM. (Wish we had brunch over green eggs and ham.)
ARTE F– USE: Okay – here’s a loaded question. What makes your photography unique from all the other shutterbugs?
SAM HEYDT: I feel as if photographs are half truths of lived experiences, visual interpretations of the world if you will, and these are the truths I’m telling. To quote Susan Sontag: “Photographs really are experience captured, and the camera is the ideal arm of consciousness in its acquisitive mood.”
AF: Your earliest memory of picking up a camera and the very first picture you ever took.
SH: Of a Shivite with a throw away camera in Varanasi, India when I was 17 or so. He passed away before the roll was developed.
AF: In your travels, what aspect of the culture that you ﬁnd most compelling? The people, place, or action?
SH: They are all so integral, it’s difﬁcult to untangle which has the greatest impact on my immediate experience of a place and how I later choose to remember it.
AF: Being a female photographer, is it an advantage or disadvantage to compete for commercial gigs? What are the challenges if ever there’s one?
SH: It has been both in my experience, but the androgyny of my name helps.
AF: Estrogen Photographer Idol – Mary Ellen Marks, Annie Leibowitz, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange or name anyone that is a huge inﬂuence in your work.
SH: Diane Arbus – for sure, her aesthetic, content and process has indisputably shaped my approach to the medium. Yet, with that said, my inspiration is splintered between countless female artists: Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Barbara Kruger, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois…..Mariko Mori, to name a few.
AF: How do you feel when people look at your work and say – “Oh I can take a picture and do that!” ? Does it drive your insane?
SH: No, I think it’s really interesting.
AF: If you had to go anywhere in the world right this minute and take pictures – where would it be?
AF: Would you prefer to shoot in the studio where you have control or love the unpredictability of the outdoor set up?
SH: It depends on the inspiration and whether it’s commercial or personal work, as such determines whether unpredictability is something one can afford.
AF: Your Holy Grail of a Celebrity to take their portrait – Dead or Alive?
SH: Dead – Coco Chanel / Alive – Fidel Castro
AF: What it the best and worst thing about being a photographer?
SH: When you love what you do, fact is it’s hard to call it work, but that’s not to say you don’t have to hustle incessantly.
To view more of Sam’s artistic style and range of photography, you can visit her site: www.samheydt.com.
Her artist residencies will take her global in 2013: Jan-Mid Feb at BigCi in Australia, Mid Feb to April at Hallak in Istanbul Turkey, April – June at Nes in Iceland and then from June to Sept 1st at the Cornaro Institute in Cyprus. And possibly also in the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan.
No green eggs and ham were consumed during the interview – but there’s always another opportunity on the horizon for it.
interview by: Oscar A. Laluyan
images courtesy of Sam Heydt