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Sam Abell Talks About Making a Photograph

Sam Abell is one of my favourite colour photographers.  His books are a must have for me and I always enjoy his sharing of his thought processes in making photographs.  To me, he is one of the rare photographers that is able to express himself clearly in his photography as well as in his words (whether spoken or written). His photographs have always been an inspiration to me in his uniquely quiet style.  I know that even though his photographs are mainly in colour, his work has been a large influence in my own Silent Japan series which is in black and white.

As a boy, my father taught me photography and one of the things he taught me was, “Sammy, compose your picture and wait. Compose and wait.”  ~Sam Abell

 © Sam Abell/National Geographic Image Collection

I came across the following video interview of Sam Abell at The Atlantic website yesterday.  In it, he recounts his year and a half long quest to find the perfect image of bison skulls for the closing image for an essay on American painter Charles M. Russell.  In the interview, he mentions that he took 25,000 photographs for the essay of which only 8 images where selected for the essay in the National Geographic magazine.  Talk about having to edit down your work!  The video interview is worth checking out if you are a fan of his work or you enjoy getting into the thought process of good photographers.

The Atlantic ‘First Draft’ Series- Sam Abell from Surface Below Media on Vimeo.

The documentary was produced by Alex Hoyt and filmed and edited by Ross McDermott.