This month marks 6 years in business as Samantha Levi Photography.
I get asked a lot 'how long have I been a photographer' and I never quite know how to respond - My entire life...
You see, there is a difference between being a photographer and being a professional photographer so where do I even start??
I was a grew up doing photography in 4-H since I was seven and had a camera in hand prior to that. In 7th grade I was able to take my first dark room photography class. I remember taking photos of my skateboard friends, printing them and making a 3d model of the skatepark when you look through the view hole. I remember taking my moms 50's glassware set and her old converse and a white piece of foam core to the side walk outside my house. I shot them in direct sun to learn about light and dark and how light reflects, etc.
In high school I continued photography and lived in the art dept. Learning all mediums and honing the technical side of art. My teachers would submit our work for contests and I was winning. I think it was junior year when college talk started and I realized wait a second, 'I can actually do this for a living!! This is a thing!' Who knew ?! I was exploring different art schools and getting accepted with small scholarships. It was between MIAD (which I ended up doing their summer program before college), Chicago, and the Corcoran in DC. At this time I was also being heavily recruited to do High Jump at Central Missouri. At a track meet sitting on the bleachers with the recruiter, he asked well what do you want to study? I said, Photography. Well, turns out Central Missouri had a photography program! And long story long, I visited, loved it because I could finally learn color darkroom and signed. Plus I wouldn't be in dept till I was 80 going to art school so everyone (parents) were happy.
I studied photography for 4 years, went abroad to New Zealand to live for 6 months and truly fell in love with the art of photography during that time. I competed year round indoor and outdoor season for High Jump and was able to graduate in 4 years lol.
After college I obtained an 18th month contract job shooting hotels and doing virtual tours for Photowebusa and traveled all over the Northwest and into Canada. I continued this work for the next 10 years as they needed me. After my contract ended I moved back to KC for a boy (don't do this ladies lol because I had full intention to end up in California but I was too weak), had my blessing of a son Auguste and floated around doing weddings, families, occasional seniors, fashion and helped my sons dad open his salon, Pinkie Couture. At which point I was spending so much time at the salon and doing events with them, we were lacking makeup artists. So I reverted back to my art days of color theory, read some books and taught myself. It was actually sustainable for 2 years with the bridal industry but it wasn't a passion. It was a job I did and I was good at it. I worked my way into the commercial industry and started doing hair and makeup for commercials. I loved that side and ended up chatting with Liquid 9 about 'hey this is what I DO but what I really LOVE is photography.' They helped me start photography business in 2014 and for that I am eternally grateful. I officed out of Liquid9 for the past 5 years and while I was there picked up my video and production background.
September 2019 I moved out officially of Liquid9 and set off to embark on my newest addition, Phare. Add in 3 months of
what I call purgatory for me and my business. I can officially say I have the keys and I occupy this new baby of mine.
To say the last 10 years of my career was a journey...you have no idea.
To think I would be sitting in this space Jan 1, 2020 that is 100% mine...the feeling is surreal and overwhelming.
I am grateful for my lessons along that way that have brought me to this point. To those just starting their passion, their path. I never stopped networking, I never stopped putting myself out there, I had wins and losses, I had strength, determination and discipline. I honed my technical skills. I learned the rules so I could creatively break them. I paid my dues. I write all this because this didn't happen overnight. If you want something to work you just keep grinding. This new studio space represents the 100 hr work weeks, the all night editing sessions, the wins and losses of my business over the last 6 years, the light that existed inside of me this whole time. I just needed to go through all this shit to see if for myself so that I can finally light the path for you. THAT is what Phare is about.
My name is Samantha Levi
I have been a photographer for 27 years
A Professional Photographer for 6 of those years.
And I am the founder of this new space for Communicating Illuminated Innovators, Phare.
Everything in our journey happens at the time it needs to happen at and we just keep moving forward.