Business Name: Samantha Grant Photography
Name: Samantha Riegels
Location: Pleasanton, CA
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I worked as a sports photographer shooting action as well as head shots and team shots during college. I also took all the photography classes the school offered. But being incredibly risk-averse, at graduation I chickened out; instead of pursuing the MFA in photography, I went to law school. After working as an attorney for 2 years I decided to start a family. Returning to those 90 hour work weeks isn’t going to happen, so finally life has made the decision to pursue photography an easy one. I shoot nearly exclusively seniors because I personally had an amazing portrait session my senior year that I want to recreate for others. And also, I love working with clients who are just as excited about their photoshoot as I am.
What is in your gear bag?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii, and nearly always use my Canon 85mm 1.2. I love shooting wide open. I also have a 24-70mm that I use in tighter spaces but prefer locations that leave more room to back up. And I bring along a reflector which I use any time I’ve got an assistant.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
There are several portrait photographers whose work I admire and I draw inspiration from. As a personal project I enjoy trying to figure out what I like about another photographer’s editing style and then challenging myself to see if I can re-edit some of my old photos like them. I’m also inspired by the locations and architecture in my area. I’m constantly pulling my car over to take a cell phone picture of something I want to revisit. A run down fruit stand….a used-tool supply store with 30 rusty ladders…impressive graffiti…these all give me ideas for shoots I want to do.
What is one obstacle you had when you first started your business? What did you do to overcome it?
Getting my name out there was a big obstacle at first. How will anybody find me? Creating my Model Brand Representative team of 8 girls helped with this a lot. Shooting a local high school pre-prom fashion show and then giving watermarked low res files to all the kids in the show also helped. Finally, having some wonderful clients give me “shout outs” on Facebook using images from their sessions also made a big difference. At the end of one of my shoots I was talking with a client (who attends a high school with 2,500 students) and she said, “When people asked me who was doing my senior pictures and I told them ‘Samantha Grant Photography’ they all knew who I was talking about.” That’s when I finally felt like things were falling into place.
Please share one tip that you found to be successful to share with other photographers.
I talk to clients a lot during the photoshoot. We talk about sports, band, jobs, volunteering, dance performances, boyfriends, college admissions, favorite classes, you name it. When I post an image from their session to Instagram I often write about who they are rather than what they look like. I also look in their feed to find out if anything in my comment has it’s own hashtag (for example, the name of the studio she dances with, or the high school band percussion section’s tag.) This all does take time. But seniors are so happy with these posts and I get a lot of people telling me they enjoy reading the captions.