LINE OF SIGHT
ILLUSTRATION BY JASMINE CURTIS
Youth is the way forward: millennials are facing new challenges almost every day, whilst some generations find ways to label; we look for ways to brighten our future. Sam Selvage is a very good example of this. No degree needed, just a pure passion turned into his career. Freelance is a wonderful thing and Sam genuinely enjoys his work, seizing every opportunity to take the next photograph.
We sit down at the local Wetherspoons, both having a pint of lager. We start with our small talk about being freelance and how it can be easy and stressful at the same time. Sam sits on the other end of the booth from me, dressed from head to toe for winter. Sam’s always been a stylish type of guy, an adopter of the topknot in its early stages, buying items that would make him stand out in a sharp and piercing way. We settle down to talk about his first solo shoot.
You are starting your very first solo shoot, but first let us hear about the work you’ve done in the past?
Sam takes a minute before looking into my eyes to answer my question; he moves his hands around the table.
“One at the minute, its pretty much going to go on all year its called ‘Splay’ which is with my mate Elvis. He’s basically making clothes but he’s doing it for the basketball community as well, so every Sunday there’s a small basketball game and stuff like that. I shoot and help out with the branding, there’ll be a lot more to come with different styles and stuff. We’re hopefully going to travel around the country a little bit to different locations, setting it up better. That one is quite well made, it’s pretty much everyone really, there’s kids going round from twelve and then you also have like 30-year olds, so it is really nice, like really diverse. I also do a lot of weddings, they’re my thing at the minute, I’ve got quite a few booked. I’m starting to get into new-born shoots, a lot of people when they have babies, they want family photos. I’m getting into that, I’ve only done a couple at the minute but they’re the main ones I’m going for.”
How did you find your way into freelance?
“I done photography at school, it was my passion ever since I grew up. I got my first camera when I was probably like eight! I’ve always liked photography since then. My uncle is a professional photographer, he done weddings and stuff like that as well. He passed away about two years ago and my auntie was like ‘I’ve got all of this, would you like it seeing as you were so close and helped him?’ So I got all of my uncle’s camera gear and I kind of do it in his memory but I do it because I love photography as well. My passion is photography: I do a little bit of cinematography but I’m not a big fan of doing that so I try to stick under the photography side. Companies really, they just seem like ‘I have to do this, I have to do that”. Tapping on the table his voice clear: “There’s too many rules and regulations that I have to follow in a company whereas freelance I have my own choice, there’s no dress code, no set time for when I need to work and I can charge my own rates. Because I’m still up and coming and small, my prices are still affordable, they’re not like ripping you off like two to three thousand pounds, I’m extremely cheap. That’s the main thing that I like about that, even if I get a lot of bookings at this price, I can stay at this price and I can make a living quite nicely, that’s the main reason I like freelance.” He freshens up after his speech by taking a long, slow sip of his lager.
Why have you decided to do the solo shoot now?
“I’ve been freelance for two years and I’ve never done a solo shoot. I do miniature projects here and there and just travelling the country, doing nature and stuff like that but I’ve never physically done my first solo project just for one particular subject. I thought now, two years in, I’ve got enough experience”. He drags his hands across the table as to show a timeline. “Enough people who know about my projects and know how I can shoot. I’ve done weddings and stuff so I’ve got the experience so I thought it might be a good time to do it now. I could do it later yes, but then if I start now I’ve got more projects in the future to come.”
Tell me about the shoot.
“It’s basically just going to be profile shots, chest upwards maybe the waist upwards, I haven’t got too many details on what I want to do at the minute. It’s all going to be shot in black and white on a black and white screen”. He clears his throat. “We’re going to do two different styles to see what I like best, what’s going to happen is they’re going to get a solid black line, either make up or face paint, from the forehead to their chin, straight down the middle of the face, when I put that on the black and white, that’s going to stand out. It’s not going to separate everyone but they’re all going to look the same but it will separate them in their own way, if that makes sense. Everyone is going to look the same which will bring them together as one and it just basically means that no one is different. You shouldn’t separate anyone or single them out, everyone is the same person, no matter what we look like, how old we are, if we’re black or white, stuff like that. I’m just trying to bring everyone together to be one person in my own format.”
Did you have any inspiration for doing this?
“I think its the national geographic, its played everywhere even on Netflix; it’s called ‘Tales by Light’. There’s a photographer on there, I can’t think of his name but he paints backgrounds with different patterns like African tribes and then he’ll paint the same design on their face and stand them there so they vanish into the background. I like that idea of the contrast of standing out from something but blending in with your surroundings; so that’s why I thought keep it simple with a plain background but, then something standing out on their face that isn’t normal, but will look the same on everyone. That’s kind of my inspiration but I’ve put my own twist on it to make it my own. Just mixed it up.”
What do you hope to accomplish with this shoot?
“As I said, its my first solo project so its more experience for me but its also helping people who want to get into modelling. I’ve got a few people who are setting up their portfolio so its helping them add to it and showing that they’ve done different stuff rather than the ‘standard photo of me, here you go’ sort of thing, so its helping them out but its also helping me out with experience, and there’s a magazine called ‘Coy”. He spreads his hands out across the table. “They are a small magazine, they’ve only made two issues at the minute and pretty much anyone can submit work and tell them what its about and they’ll decide whether they publish it or not, so I’m going to send all of it to them. One of my mates who lives in Essex, he’s a really good photographer, he’s got into it like three times and I shoot the same stuff that he does. So hopefully mine will go into there and that will be published which will get me out there more. I’m still looking for more magazines that I like the style of to get into or to publish but that’s the main one I’m aiming for because I’ve followed them since they started”.
Explain your style as a photographer?
“I don’t really have a style… I will shoot anything, whenever, whatever, day, night. It’s just me and my camera. I’ll take a photo of anything and have my own interpretation of it. If I have to say I’d shoot anything, I’m more of a landscape and wildlife photographer, I do a lot of that. I don’t live central London, I live more countryside of London so there’s a lot of nature around so I like doing that. I’ve started shooting a lot of sports as well now and hopefully I’m going to get into that. But I’m going to stick with photography of landscape and nature. That’s the main stuff that I do shoot.”
Knowing his job is done, he picks up his half empty pint of lager and takes one large swig. Day done.