A Q&A with photographer Sam English

Dec 21, 2018 at 4:54 pm
Photo By Sam English
Photo By Sam English

Sam English (samenglish.com) came to photography, to use his phrase, “later in life.” So, he dislikes it when people say that “they aren’t creative or don’t have ‘an eye.’ I bet otherwise. Pick up a camera and start taking pictures of something that interests you. Try it, spend time, fail, succeed, try again. If not a camera, try writing, painting, drawing. I’ll bet there is something inside of you that is creative. Just start.”

LEO: What type of artist are you? Sam English: Photographer. That said, I still have a hard time admitting to the ‘artist’ label. I try to be an artist. I think about it. I would like to be. But, I really wrestle with that label as I work full time in commercial real estate and have a bunch of finance degrees.    

What is your earliest childhood memory that involved art? My earliest good memory involving art was in seventh or eighth grade, and when we were working on drawing or clay projects in art class. I created a few pieces that were pretty good. It didn’t take. For the next 30 years, I didn’t do anything that would be considered art until I picked up a camera later in life.

Photo By Sam English - Sam English
Sam English
Photo By Sam English

What came first, your interest in photographing ballet dancers or your work with the Louisville Ballet? Dancers in their studio space. The Louisville Ballet studios have large windows and natural light spills into their space. I thought then and still think that the combination of sunlight and dancers in rehearsal would be different and fun to capture. Most people see the finished performance onstage with costumes, sets and stage lighting, but the rehearsals and quiet moments in the studio are just as beautiful. 

What is something most people do not know about you? I started this photography late in life, and it grabbed me immediately. I have been obsessed with it and have been trying to get better ever since. 

What's on your art bucket list? I have a long bucket list. Walking around a city with a camera is a lot of fun. You’re hunting for something different in an unfamiliar place. You can’t just walk around and look — you have to look. It has been done, to be sure, but I want to wander Venice for a week. Also, I have been using flash to create images, particularly portraits of people and horses. I have so much more to do with creating light versus finding light already in place. Lastly, I want to build on my photography of horses. Saratoga during the racing meet is mandatory and I want to photograph the wild mustangs in the Black Hills Mustang Reserve. So much to do.