Samantha is a Toronto-based lawyer and photographer whose passion is sharing positive images of black love and families. She started her business as a creative outlet while studying in grad school and law school. While pursuing her Masters degree at the University of Windsor, she would take headshots for faculty, staff and other students in the Political Science Department. She made enough money to help pay off her tuition at the University of Ottawa Law School.
Since then, she has been in frequent demand. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, Ebony, Munaluchi Bride, The Knot, and Black Bride. Although based in Toronto, recent commissions have brought her to shoot in Ottawa, Montreal, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Maarten. While practicing law, she runs a busy photography business and a blog displaying young entrepreneurs and the work they are doing in the community. Her blog also features multicultural weddings and portraits across Canada and internationally.
Where did your passion for photography come from?
My interest in photography came at an early age. When I was young, my mother used to pull out the camera to make me stop fussing and crying, but little did she know, she was starting a very intense passion that would carry on throughout my life.
I loved being in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. I have always enjoyed the direction and the creativity involved in creating a photograph. I remember at around 9 years old, trying to set up mini photo shoots with my sister on our family vacations in Florida and Jamaica. My hope has always been to share what I see with others. Life happens quickly, and I have always loved that photos assist with slowing it down so that we can reflect on it.
Who are your favourite photographers?
I have a lot of photographers that I admire. Recently, I am loving the work of Malick Sidibé and Itaysha Jordan.
What advice would you give to someone on the path of entrepreneurship?
Learn to create opportunities for yourself. Be inspired to lead your own creative journey rather than waiting for opportunities to come to you. As a photographer, I've been able to produce a lot of my own shoots and reached out to others to collaborate with me. Over time, this has helped me through the slower times, keeping my work relevant, and creating a solid network of industry friends. I've also taken lots of courses and workshops (both online and in-person) to help me understand business and sales. This is key for creatives. By educating yourself on the business side of things, you'll be able to make a living for yourself rather than falling into the "starving artist" category. I would also recommend that you define success based on your own goals and always be true to you and your passions!
Did you have a mentor or anyone else that helped you on your path of entrepreneurship?
My family has always been my main support system. I often rely on my husband and my mother for sound advice and guidance. I can always trust that they will have my best interest. I also have a series of people that I consider mentors including my law colleagues, friends, professors, coaches, and others that have given me a lot of advice and support along the way.
I think it's a great idea to have multiple mentors rather than just one. Each mentor will have different strengths and can advise on different aspects of life and business.
Samantha has helped to create opportunities for other young black creative professionals by providing business advice and inspiration through her Ask Sam Anything Question and Answer series on her YouTube Channel. She has a passion for education and mentorship and will be hosting her first photography workshop on May 7, 2016 in Toronto.