It is always so intoxicating to come across a profile on Instagram that leaves you speechless. Sam Keller's profile and work does just that! Sam is a photographer, she loves capturing images in the form of 35mm, 120mm, & Polaroid film! Her work is made up of dreamy colors and the feelings of nostalgia. After following Sam for several months, we met up over Chai and a walk through downtown to get familiar with one another face to face. Get to know a bit about Sam below.
1. Where are you from?
2. How old are you?
A quarter of a dollar old.
3. Following you on Instagram I see mostly film uploads. Do you only shoot film? What is your favorite film camera to work with recently?
It fluctuates. I’m mostly film but I have a digital camera and I usually take photos on my phone during the shoots so my Instagram is a melting pot of different mediums and ways I take photos. I have a ton of old school cameras and I fall in love with each of them for different reasons but I always come back to my Contax T2 and Canon AE-1 for 35mm. I never go to a shoot with out a medium format camera so I also rely my Mamiya RZ67 and Mamiya 7ii.
4. Who are two photographers that heavily influence your work? What about them inspires you?I’m inspired by film photographers in general but can I say three?
Petra Collins, Hana Haley and Wiissa (photography duo) have all had a heavy impact on my work. I was really into Tumblr at the time that I started taking photography seriously and seeing their work and their progress made me realize I was capable of that same progress too. I stuck with and even though I don’t love every photo I take, I’m at a point where I’m my own favorite photographer (IN A NON-COCKY WAY). I never thought I would see my photos in the light that I do and I’m proud of where I’ve come. I’m self-taught for the most part and I consider my inspirations part of my learning lessons. They helped me craft my style and fall in love with film photography.
5. What is your favorite part of taking film photos?
It’s the entire process. When I’m out shooting and I hear the shutter click and I know it’s going to be a beautiful photo, I get chills. After the roll is shot and I get my negatives back, it is such an out of body experience for me looking at the photos. I can stare at them all I want but sometimes they don’t feel like mine and that’s a cool and freaky feeling. I’m a nerd but I love sitting down and cleaning my cameras and making sure they are working properly. As frustrating as the hiccups can be, the reward of getting it right is worth every fail.
6. For anyone who wants to get into film photography, what's the best advice you have learned or are learning that you'd be willing to share with someone else? What got you into film?
I could say so many things. The first being, forgive yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes. But learning from mistakes is important too so take your time, know your cameras and know your settings. Film is really fucking cool but don’t forget it’s how you use your equipment and not the physical equipment itself. You need to train your eye to see things that you like that to others might find mundane. Train yourself to look for beauty everywhere you go and try taking photos on your phone first. Then you can execute it on film once you have harvested your style.
The reason I got into film is deep and has a multitude of elements and stories and people. Mostly though, it was because of my parents. My mom used film even after digital was changing the playing field of photography. I always loved the look of it and was fortunate enough to have her cameras to help me out. My dad passed when I was 14 and I think the experience of loosing him at a young age forced me to find myself and my passions a little earlier to help express myself and make sense of it all. I tried acting and singing before eventually finding myself drawn to photography. It’s a beautiful way for me to cope and manage my running mind.
7. What is your dream meal?
omggggggggg. My dream meal would have to be my mama’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes and Mexican-style street corn served on a silver platter with Drake pouring wine (or coca cola) into my glass while he raps softly to me. There’s an ocean view and I’m wearing slippers.
8. What's your favorite song?
I’M SO BAD AT PICKING FAVORITES AND YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH THESE FAVORITE QUESTIONS BUT CURRENTLY…..
I’m dying over Lil Uzi’s new album. 50% of the reason I love him is because he is from Philly but the other 50% is because I love his music and vibe. I also love “Prom” by SZA.
9. What is your favorite color to photograph?
Blue blue blue. I need blue skies in my photos. My work relies so heavily on the sun and the saturated tones she provides. I do like a good overcast though but then the outfits/settings need to be bold. I also love yellow and pinks.
10. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
My mom was shit talking someone and accidentally sent that person the screenshot instead of sending it to me. TWICE. I was rolling on the floor at my desk laughing. It’s funny because my mom is a really nice lady and it’s rare that she gets that annoyed she needs to “shit talk”. We both thought it was hilarious.