Celebrity photographer, Sam Dameshek, is gearing up to release his coffee table book Yours Truly that will be a one-of-a-kind page-turner featuring the most iconic names in the industry.
Yours Truly, features Alexis Ren, Charlotte D’Alessio, Carmella Rose, Josie Canseco, Meredith Mickelson, Hannah Palmer, Yovanna Ventura, Yasmin Widnaldum, and many more top tier names in modeling and entertainment. I sat down with Sam to talk about his book, what inspires him to continue his photography career, and where he sees himself at the age of 30 having already accomplished so much as a 22-year-old.
The Knockturnal: Why do you do what you do? Who and what inspires you?
Sam Dameshek: I do what I do because I guess at some point I started becoming impulsively inclined to do this yeah know. Since I’ve started it’s not something that I even remotely lost my interest in. Like I skate, I surf like I really like a number of things and even though you know it’s like I’ll have maybe I’m not doing them as much and since I started taking pictures it became like it became like an itch, like if I go somewhere without my camera and anythings sparks my interest to take a picture it’s like I’m like freaking out if I can’t take that photo. If I’m around certain people or moments it’s like I have to capture. I would say it’s not even a choice it’s almost like an obsession and I think you know that’s that’s why I would do it before anything just cause I almost feel like I don’t have a choice like it’s just what I’m clearly here to do but say it was a choice and it wasn’t just this compulsive thing that I need and love, I guess just like anybody can feel all the benefits of documenting the life around you and the people, you know it it brings an entirely new perspective. You see everything differently so I’d say that would be the other answer but my first one I think is probably the best one.I seek inspiration in a lot of different ways and it kind of comes and goes and I think that there’s a lot of different types of inspiration. I think there’s the inspiration that motivates you to achieve things. I think there’s the inspiration that you know gives you ideas. I think that there is inspiration that you know inspires types of emotion and feelings that might lead you to do something and then there’s inspiration that like I feel like you kind of seek that I find within myself you know. I take a lot of inspiration from music. I always have music playing and I feel like music and my love for music definitely influences my persona and what I’m creating in a pretty great way. I love films. I love movies. I say it comes and goes as to how much that’s really impacted my work but it definitely has a pretty large impact on it. When I’m directing I find it like I’ll be pulling from like an archive of memories or moments or feelings or emotions or just different things I’ve seen and then trying to like even if it’s subconscious you putting that into whatever I’m shooting or directing you know like sometimes I might not even be aware of doing it but maybe the way that I’m trying to get someone to smile or move is coming from something that I’ve experienced you know within my life. And then it’s just obvious all these people they’re so f****** good at what they do like so many good photographers, so many great people and that definitely you know puts a fire under my ass but also can be exciting cause I’ll be inspired by like the way someone does this thing and the way somebody else does this thing and I always encourage people to kind of be like you know the accumulation of all the things that you like in other people’s work you know.
The Knockturnal: What does your creative process look like when preparing for a shoot?
Sam Dameshek: It ranges and its kind of I feel like it’s pretty one or the other but it’s either 0 process other than just where and when and then you know surrendering to like the rest of it. Or it’s very very thorough words of, you know basically making a checklist of what the look, what’s the makeup, what model, what’s the direction, why is the direction you know like even as far as what I want to be listening to. I really try to map out everything. I’d say the last year I like I don’t know why it took me this long to realize it but pretty much anything photo wise can be achievable as long as you are really smart with that you know that the timing in the location you choose and like the team that you build and you know you don’t forget to like keep paying attention to detail and making sure you have all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed.
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to put together this book and what did the creative process look like for curating all of the photos?
Sam Dameshek: What inspired me to do yours truly well I guess I mean I just I felt like I had thousands of photos that all were in this similar vein like they to me like they all had very similar feeling and even I am trying to pinpoint what the word is words for that feeling but I think it’s apparent when you when you look at all the pictures in the book. And I knew I had that collection and then it was kinda at a place where I knew I wanted to release a book for my own personal reasons of seeing something in physical form. It’s kind of like an artist releasing their first album. I feel like it’s pretty imperative as a photographer to put out a book. And I had a lot of ideas and I landed on this one because I felt like timing-wise this was the one that made the most sense. I felt like you know the body of work that’s in yours truly has kind of represented the last three years of work. And it’s even a type of work that I’m going to maintain but I see myself like moving in different directions and expanding off of it. So it’s not a closing of a chapter. This chapter will continue but it’s okay here, I’m going to date that, and here’s this timestamp in the first book. The other ideas just felt like things that would be so much better in time. I think that with Instagram being so instantly gratifying and this industry being so fast I really want to try to reserve books and prints and physical things as something I don’t rush. Like okay you know maybe I want to make a book of images that I’ve taken at all of the parties I’ve been to around the world. Or a book of all the celebrities I’ve worked with and then I’ll sit back and think how cool would it be if the book of celebrities was actually photos from 10 years ago. Timing-wise this first idea made the most sense. The creative process for curating Yours Truly was first going through all the shoots that I felt could have the ability to make sense together, eliminating all the ones that didn’t. Basically dumping thousands of photos into one folder and then narrowing it down. Then just literally just started dragging and dropping and going okay well this could maybe look good here or here and doing that hundreds of times. Normally I would spend you know about a week doing that like countless hours and then I would stop and show it to a few people and get notes and sometimes I’d get burnt out or like just I feel like you stare at something for so long and you just don’t even know what you’re looking at it anymore. So like I made the majority of it over a year ago but then I wouldn’t look at it for three months and then open it back up and be like okay fresh perspective, I have these photos I can put in I don’t know what I was thinking when I put those in and I’m going to swap this around and then revisit a few months later and I think when I finally got the place where like I took a month off and then I came back to it and I’m like you know what this is I don’t think I change anything. Then it was like alright you got to call spade a spade, call the book done or else you’re going to work on it for the rest of your life.
The Knockturnal: What’s the story behind the name yours truly?
Sam Dameshek: I found myself saying it a bunch I guess primarily on Instagram. I found myself posting a campaign or something I shot and I kind of just accidentally kept writing shot by Yours Truly or this design by yours truly. And then I thought I’d like to make that a staple and I kept doing it. I felt like the nail on the coffin would be to name the book Yours Truly. And then maybe everybody looking back and realizing that’s been there for a while. Putting out a book, I compare to the musicians putting out their first album, it’s vulnerable you know. You can archive an Instagram post you can’t you can’t take back books especially you know thousands of them. It’s really wearing your heart on your sleeve and so I feel like you know it’s like it’s yours truly like you was my first tangible little message to the world but the end of a letter and now it’s on my neck.
The Knockturnal: How do you want people to feel when receiving and experiencing your book for the first time?
Sam Dameshek: I want them to be very drawn in. I think there’s like the books you look at where you look at them and then I think there’s books that you kind of fall into and you need to get to the finish. But you know at the end of the day there isn’t a story, there’s not. And technically there’s not like something that you know defines like the genre everything I meant like it really is kind of a hodgepodge of pictures. I’d like to say you know the people that I’ve shown it to already, it feels so cohesive and it almost feels like there is some sort of message or story or like tone. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I feel it you know what I mean. And I hope that I guess like this is something that I haven’t really spoken about but the books composed completely of women and a lot of the photos of the girls in the book you know are quite intimate or like on the sexier side of things. And my goal was to be able to push what that line is but never at any point have somebody see it and like that’s where their head goes. Like you know even a photo of somebody who is completely nude or something that that does have like the sexual essence to it I wanted it to read that it’s so beautiful and natural that like it kind of take away from the stigma of just like sexualizing you know women or naked bodies and I feel like despite how you know how sexy some of the images might be, I look at it and I feel like it would be shameful to even try and sexualize anything cause everything just feels so real and raw and natural. So I guess I hope that that translates to especially with the men out there that will buy the book. And I think it’s cool too because every single girl that’s in the book is in the book because they want to be there and I know I got every single image approved. If a girl didn’t like the photo I would talk to her and see what we could do to change it and see what else we could do. Some people can be a little shady and it can be a selfish process if you want it to be and I’m proud to say that like you know everybody in there is in there because we both want them to be in there.
The Knockturnal: What would you say distinguishes your style from other photographers?
Sam Dameshek: I feel like even if it’s not super prevalent I’d like to say my relationship between me, my camera, and the person I’m shooting. I feel like with most people I can get a comfortability and a presence out of somebody that most people can’t and part of that might be me being younger. Not to pat myself on the back but I’d like to say like I’ve become pretty great at really figuring people out and I think that that shows through a lot of my photos where there’s like this organic-ness to them that I don’t think you can like learn to do and it’s something that I do know I’m not the only one that does it but I’d like to say I’m one of the few. I mean it’s funny like people tell me like I can spot your photo from a mile away and of course I can like I took the f****** thing but you know I always question if other people can recognize my work especially because my work is changing so frequently and I’m trying to just do more and more new things. I don’t want to be defined by anything right now. I don’t know if I ever want to be defined by anything. I kind of just want to just keep doing whatever I want. There’s so much freedom in that.
The Knockturnal: What title would you give this chapter of your life and career?
Sam Dameshek: I’d say coming of age. I mean, right? You know like I think I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders for a 22-year-old but that being said I mean every month I feel like I’m figuring myself out as a lover, a person, and an artist like more and more like my taste is changing rapidly you know. What I seek in other people, friends, and romantically is changing rapidly. And who I see myself as an artist as changing pretty frequently and I’m trying to just surrender that cause I feel like if there’s any time to do that it’s now. I’m really excited to see where it potentially takes me.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any new projects in the works after yours truly?
Sam Dameshek: I would say I’ll start the next book and figure out what that looks like. I have an online school I’d like to embark on I guess part 2 in a sense the next level up. As far as people I’m working with, there’s a lot of brands and campaigns, some things that I’ve shot and I’m going to shoot that haven’t come out yet. I just did some stuff with Shawn Mendes. I’d like to see myself curate my life more to allow myself to do more like personal self-produced projects just for my own creative means. I mean it’s not as exciting but I need to make a new website.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Sam and learn more about his photography and experience his mind outside of his camera lens. Sam Dameshek’s book Yours Truly is available for Pre-Order and will be shipping the first week of August 2021.