Last week, I sat down with my good friend and photography pal, Sammie Fownes. We chatted about her career, where she comes from, where she’s at and where she’s headed. Through discussions of her work and her life as it pertains to her work, we identified common values and guidance for anyone wishing to take on life as a photographer.
NOTE: Canva viewers are able to pause/rewind the videos of Sammie talking – the recordings of me speaking didn’t come out lined-up properly, so take matters in to your own hands, I beg.
This interview was extremely easy to set up and carry out – Sammie and I have known each other for some time, and worked together closely this past year, as well as running around the same social circles. That is partly why I found it so interesting to explore what she might consider her values. Although we lead similar careers and occupy similar spaces, we interestingly draw on differing values in some ways, simply due to different personality types and upbringings. In this blog post, I’ll be reflecting on our my interview with Sammie, and interrogating my own values in light of it.
When it came to presenting this work – I fell back with a disappointing sneeze. I’m afraid I became very ill with a very gross flu-like situation during the week I was set to present. I was genuinely and wholeheartedly looking forward to presenting this work to the class – I had fun putting it together. There’s nothing I find more enjoyable and rewarding than championing my friends and their work – and Sammie is one that I admire an incredible amount. Alas, the cough was coughed. I had to resort to recording my presentation and baring no witness to my peer’s insights (an aspect I’m sorely missing after enjoying the class and getting to know my classmates this semester).
Two Not-So-Starving Artists
Sammie talked about growing up thinking art was not a viable career option, and thus, part of her journey lies in rectifying this misconception and profiting on her passion. While I too have grappled with the sometimes frightening idea of making money from a creative standing, this does not line up with the way that I was brought up, which was always ‘passion, then profit’. Interestingly, we both have arrived at 22 with an incredible amount of reverence for creativity and for our craft, but through fairly different means.
The Connection vs The Camera
During our chat, Sammie identified photography as a means of connection – as someone who is otherwise very introverted, Sammie has the courage and opportunity to establish and foster meaningful relationships with a camera in hand. I’m fairly extraverted, and while I too hold my relationships and connections to the utmost standard, and place it at the heart of my work, when looking at my career, connection came naturally and photography naturally followed. Sammie’s got a skill for photography and through that, she connects. I have a skill in connection and through that, photography makes sense. I’ve written and spoken before about how photography can be a practical exercises in empathy – and this really stands up through both mine and Sammie’s approaches on the job. I know this, because I’ve seen it.
Sammie had just finished shooting my headshots for my refreshed website, as a favour to me, moments before she sat this interview. I’ve seen Sammie on the job before, and we’ve taken each other’s headshots in the past. Our relationships are the most important thing to both of us, and photography largely depends on our ability to create and foster these relationships. I think this is why Michael White’s “Club of Life” concepts have particularly stuck with me this semester. I know my career would not function without the support of the people around me – both in a direct sense (people who might send opportunities my way), and an absorbed support way (the emotional support that upkeeps a base-line of self confidence that’s necessary for me to do this job.)
In wrapping up my conversation with Sammie, we discussed being a young person in Photography – how it gives us a head-start in digital literacy and post-production software, but also challenges us to prove our expertise and build trust. I asked her if she minds that her job is such a huge part of her personhood. She assures me she doesn’t. Everything that makes Sammie a great photographer also makes her exactly who she is outside of that. Our work values are also just our personal values, and we’re privileged to do a job that allows us to self-actualise in such a rewarding way. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to have this conversation with her, and appreciate our similar values despite our differing paths.