MEET. Samantha Schwann

© Samantha Schwann

Meet underwater photographer and APA member Samantha Schwann.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
I’m not a podcaster but right now I’m trying a learn to speak Spanish one.

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
And a couple of dog accounts because they bring me joy 🙂 

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I can’t listen underwater, but there is nothing better than getting lost in creative flow while editing with good music. A lot of indie electronic.

What inspires you?
That we still have a shred of a chance to preserve our oceans, but it’s a global call to action.  

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
I get to invite viewers to join me in experiences, and share my passion for our ocean planet.  

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I’m deeply engulfed in a project (which is my happy place) so it’s pretty all-consuming. That being said, I love what yoga does for me mentally and physically, so I try to keep that balance.  

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
I’m a very early riser and find mornings are when I’m at my creative best. Currently it is a lot of writing and preparation for a project. Covid meant no travel, but time in quarantine allowed for concentrated work in other areas. I’m usually traveling every couple of months, so it’s a cycle of developing, preparation, and then editing.

Who were your biggest influencers?
Nick Brandt
Edward Burtynski
Laurent Ballesta

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
“Hard work beats talent any day of the week” – Joel Grimes.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Highlight is happening right now, working on my dream project. The challenges have been learning how to navigate my way to where I want to be, and in funding my work.

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was an investment advisor. It was interesting and I was ok at it but I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. I saw a lot of people who worked and saved their whole lives, for moments which never came. That stuck with me – while it’s important to plan and be responsible, I want to do things now, while I can.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
Perhaps an oceanographer, or a submarine pilot – but I require a creative outlet. I feel I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.

What do you do when you get stuck?
I’ve learned to trust the creative process, and stopped freaking out a while ago. Step back, hit a yoga class, go for a swim or lose myself in a movie. The less I stress about it the smoother the wave.

What is your best advice for your peers?
Keep going.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
All of the experiences you will go through, especially the difficult ones, will be catalysts for growth. Be fearless in your pursuit, observe and listen to learn as much as you can, and trust your instincts.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I think it’s great that technology has made it easier for people to become interested in photography and take better pictures! I don’t see it as a threat, as I find it can foster a deeper appreciation. While advances have made things easier, at the end of the day you still have to put in the work if you want to pursue photography seriously. What separates a photographer from the masses is a cohesive body of work, personal style, and vision, and there are no shortcuts for that.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Contributing to ocean conservation in a meaningful, tangible way, and ocean exploration.

To view more of Samantha’s work you can follow along here.