Would you mind introducing yourself? Hi, my name is Sam Judge. I currently live, and go to school in LA, but I’m originally from Portland, Oregon.
Sam’s Instagram - @samueljudge
How would you describe your style of photography? I’d describe my style as an homage to the romanticism style of painting, only insofar as the romantic aesthetic. A little more modestly put, my style is an attempt to emulate aspects of romanticism. There is a surrealism in the lighting and colours that are captured in romantic paintings, and I try to echo it in my photos. I’m still figuring out exactly how to do that, but a lot of it seems to be less about the colour and more about the white balance. It’s a learning process.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? I first fell in love with taking photos around 8th grade. I had downloaded VSCO onto my phone and took a photo of a cup of tea I was holding. I’m pretty sure it’s still on my page, way far back. I threw on a filter. The filter did all the colour correction, edited the white balance, did its own split toning, the whole shebang-- the world of editing was largely a mystery to me then, but I was drawn to the difference between what I had seen with my eyes and what I was looking at on my phone. So, my love for photography actually, I’d say, largely came from my obsession with post-production, the different things you can do to manipulate a photo, and how they create, sometimes, entirely different environments within a photo.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I think one of my favourite experiences behind the camera has to be a day I spent alone in Seattle. I’d been visiting a friend who goes to school up there, and on this particular day they had a lot of classes, so I was free to roam the city by myself. This was my first time with street photography, so I was a bit apprehensive about taking strangers’ photos, but I had 2 rolls of film that I was determined to use. I went to Pike’s Place Market, and there were loads of people there. I loved it. I took photos of people on the subway, photos of people chatting, thinking, buying things. It felt so truthful-- that I was capturing people in a relaxed and genuine state, that they were modelling through being genuinely themselves. I felt invigorated by all the potential, and all that I could capture, in a sort of hidden appreciation.
What inspires your photography? Something that drives my desire to take photos is seeing other people’s creativity, and seeing how they do things differently. I find their own creative innovation inspiring and motivating to try to change up my game, and do something new, or just different. I think it’s really easy to find something you know how to do and bathe in it, and while that’s good and just, it’s also, I find, more enriching (and frustrating) to do something new. I think I learn more about myself as a photographer and it teaches me about working through kinks and frustrations. I grow more through those types of situations.
What kind of camera do you use? I shoot on a Canon 60D.
What's your editing process like? I first import all the photos from the shoot into Lightroom. Lightroom is where I do basically all of my editing. I then adjust the white balance-- this is arguably the most inconsistent and volatile part of my editing process-- and recently I have been working with lower contrast levels. I usually set the temperature slider to a colder setting. Then I jump down to the HSL sliders, and mess with the colours down there. I usually also sharpen the photo if I feel it would strengthen its quality, but I don’t always do this. Lastly, I set the split toning, which is also a part of my editing process that’s currently in flux. I used to have a set number or shade that I’d set the highlights and shadows too, but recently I’ve kind of dropped that, and instead am doing what I think fits the lighting of the photo and the mood I want to convey.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? Try not to lock yourself too heavily into a certain colour or balance. For example, when you’re cooking, you season your foods slightly differently depending on the dish, and the same holds true for the editing process-- you should edit each photo differently to get to a similar end product, if that makes sense. I also would say don’t be afraid to mess with the colours of things, but a rule I always follow is: don’t make it look like something that can’t exist naturally, or at least isn’t believably natural. I like to make my photos look realistic, but not unedited.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? I’d say my all-time favourite photographer is Joe Greer. His photos have greatly influenced my style and the area of photos I wanted to breach into. They were his photos that made me realize my love for romanticism, because whether he intends to or not, his photos, I find, very much resemble that style, through both colour and content.
Are there any photographers here on Instagram that you wish more people knew about? I love @clarajeannereed. She’s a student at NYU Tisch, and I think her work is absolutely amazing. Her collections do an incredible job of telling a story, and she does an amazing job of directing her models to create cohesive and meaningful photos. Her photos feel simultaneously contemporary and timeless. Check her out!
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? That’s a tough question, but I’d probably want to go somewhere very urban. Maybe I’d go somewhere in Manhattan, where there are tons of diverse peoples. I could go wild with street photography, I’d have a hay day, and see what I could capture.
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? Another tough question; I think winter is most fun. Growing up in Portland, I have a soft spot for brooding wintry weather. And if I need sun, I just have to wait a few days for a sunny day. Winter, though, also means the model can wear a larger array of clothing, and wardrobe can add so much to a photo, so I think, if I’m shooting outside, winter is a slightly more interactive environment to photograph in, not to mention that it’s a beautiful and dark season.
The coolest place you've ever been? I think one of the coolest, most beautiful places I’ve ever been was Lake 22 in the central cascades of Washington. I went there with my friend Clara, and it was in mid-October, so we got some solid fall foliage up at the lake. There were low clouds, but not low enough to entirely hide the snow-capped beautiful peaks that tower over the lake. It rained gently. It was just one of those times that I felt very at peace with the environment I was in. It was a moving scene. I have a couple of photos that I’ve never shared from that time, and although they didn’t follow my regular editing scheme, they are ones that I adore.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? Right now, because I’ve just moved to LA, I don’t have a car, and so I haven’t had the chance to coordinate anything that I’d like to do. In short, I don’t have anything planned and therefore don’t necessarily have anything to share. At some point, though, I’d love to make it to the White Sands National Monument or Yosemite, weather permitting.
Sam’s Instagram - www.instagram.com/samueljudge
Sam’s VSCO - www.vsco.co/samueljudge
Sam’s Website - www.samueljudge.com