Photography clicks with Samms
Reyna Samms thought architecture was her passion until a trip to Egypt changed everything.
“Every other year I go on a trip with my family,” the 21 year old Bermudian said. “In 2019, we went on a tour of Egypt and Jordan, and my father, Royland Samms, let me use his camera.”
At first she was a little confused by the DSLR camera.
“I had never really picked up a camera before,” she said. “The first time I took a photo with my father’s camera, I was like what do I press?”
Unsure how to set the camera manually, she put it on automatic, thinking she’d just click and see how things turned out.
She was surprised when several photos were good, despite her inexperience.
One of her favourites was a photo of the pyramids taken through a doorway.
“I thought maybe this is a sign,” she said.
Another favourite photo was of a man sitting on a wall. The background was of water and hills.
“I thought, this is getting really artsy,” she said.
Ms Samms particularly enjoyed editing her photographs to make the colours pop.
“It was an art form that was different to me,” she said. “I liked capturing things and being able to show them to other people.”
At first she used an app called Polarr to process her photos, but later upgraded to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
When she returned to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan to for her second year of architecture in 2019, she took a beginners photography course.
It quickly became apparent that she had a knack for photography. Several of her photographs were also featured in a campus art show The Best of Fall 2019.
Initially she shot landscapes, but over time became more confident when taking photos of people. Now people are her preference.
Friends often reach out to her to take photos of them for special occasions like birthdays.
Ms Samms’ photography professor encouraged her to take her photography further.
“She saw potential in my work,” Ms Samms said. “I said, you only get one shot at this career thing. Especially being so young, I wanted to take the opportunity to do something I actually enjoyed. I thought okay, lets do it.”
She changed her major to photography and added a minor in marketing. She is now in her second year studying photography, and has started her own business Reyna Samms Photography.
In the last two years, she has taken photos locally for companies such as ModBlu Boutique on Front Street in Hamilton, and her parents’ own company Atlantic Vision Care on Church Street. She did it for free to gain experience.
This Christmas while back in Bermuda visiting her family she sought out new clients.
But she was a little bit nervous about advertising her services on the island. Her fear was that with the change from architecture to photography, people in Bermuda would not take her seriously any more.
“With architecture people would say ‘oh, you’re going to make a lot of money and all that’,” she said. “Now I have to believe in myself and believe I can do just as great things as I would if I was doing architecture.”
Her dream is to one day shoot for fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle.
“After graduation I want to get a job with a company whether it be a clothing company, working in a professional commercial photo studio, or being an assistant photographer,” she said. “Right now I don’t want to focus on freelancing or having that as my main goal. I want to start with smaller jobs and build up. I want to have freelance more on the side.”
Michigan, where she attends university, has had 527,000 cases of the coronavirus and 13,008 deaths since the pandemic began in March.
“Where I was, students had the option to be remote or come on to campus,” she said. “But then I think maybe about three weeks before the semester ended the Michigan governor said no, we are going into lockdown.”
Before coming home to Bermuda for Christmas she spent several days visiting family in Cartersville, Georgia. It seemed to her that Michigan was taking things more seriously than Georgia.
“I stepped into the store in Georgia, before Christmas, and 80 per cent of the people were not wearing a mask,” she said.
To be tested before flying to Bermuda, she had to go through a drive through testing facility in Georgia.
“It was a really long line but they give you test and you swab your own nose,” she said. “That was weird.”
She will be doing photography gigs in Bermuda until January 8.
“I am always trying to do something new,” she said. “I don’t charge a lot of money because I am at a learning stage. People say you should charge more money, but I want to build up my portfolio first.”
One of her challenges is that she is a bit of a perfectionist, which can slow her down, a little bit.
“I want to get clients photos back to them as soon as possible, but I also want to make sure they are perfect,” she said. “I have to work on that.”
But she felt that photography had been good for her, so far.
“I used to be very shy,” she said. “It has made me a bit more comfortable with people in general. The most challenging aspect of photography so far would be being bold and brave. You have to reach out to people to ask if they want to participate in a photo project.”
She will be taking clients in Bermuda until she leaves on January 8.
For more information see her on Instagram @thedancing_photographer or on Facebook @reynasammsphotography. Also see her website reynasammsphotography.myportfolio.com or e-mail email@example.com.