Isabel Sam Photography – Cincinnati, OH

May 4, 2010

Meet Isabel, of Isabel Sam Photography, a husband and wife team in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH.  Their focus is being creative and fun with people.  They are Nikon shooters and shoot with their right eyes.  They shoot in RAW using manual 99% of the time and AV 1% of the time.  Isabel’s favorite actions are Claire-ify and Pool Party by TRA.

image by Bernie Sam



Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?

I don’t think I had a specific moment. I never really saw photography as an option until I thought I was going to take a photog class for fun and then I found out it was an interview for a job. Eventually I saw that I was good and that I had potential…and then figured out that this would be the best career for my family. My husband and I both have advanced degrees, but this job gives me flexibility with my family life that no corporate job ever offered. So, it’s been a blessing!

17-55 55mm 2.8  1/1600 ISO 320

What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?

I cannot do it all and I must be patient with myself.
What makes you as a business person different from everyone else?

Outstanding customer service. My brides love me to death for all the extra joys I add to their experience of having me as their photographer.

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Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?

Hmmm….I don’t know…maybe myself? 😉
One item you can’t live without?

My eyes, everything else is just a tool.
Your favorite bokeh image and why?

85mm 1.8 1/640 ISO 320

I think this one is my favorite – I have issues saying this, because my mind changes like every day! Anyway, I’ve received TONS of comments on this image that it just brings out his personality and I’ve even had other clients ask if I can do a similar image for them.
Why did you want to be included on The Bokeh Pot?

I think this blog is a seriously wonderful tool for many newcomers!
Favorite book?

The Bible

17-55 17mm 2.8 1/2000 ISO 250

Favorite movie?

I really loved the Mexican film “El Crimen del Padre Amaro”, it’s really sad, but it’s just great.
Favorite songs to work to?

Anything that makes me happy and helps make my fingers work faster. 🙂
Where do you find inspiration?

I find a lot from fashion, architecture, and nature. I feel like that helps me from letting my images look exactly the same as others.

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Aside from yourself, what do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?

Probably my husband and baby sitter. They help me keep my business separate from my family – because when I feel like those worlds are colliding –  I’m losing my mind!
Do you use a second shooter?

Yep, mostly my husband.
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?

Shoot me an email with a link to your site!

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If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?

Probably Fuller Edge in Canada. I really love their sexiness in their images!
Are you a member of any organizations?

Eh, PPA and a bunch of nerdy engineering and computer ones. 🙂

17-55 17mm 2.8 1/2500 ISO 200

What did you have to do to actually take the leap?  Did you have any hoops to jump through?

My husband and I put a chunk of money into savings and when it looked like God was opening up some doors – I just did it cold turkey!
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?

Be patient and always keep on trying to think outside of the box. If something isn’t working, be ready and flexible to try something new.

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What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?

Senior model program for my high school students and a fashion show.

Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If for, who have you had the most success with?

I think that some paid advertising does work – you just have to be smart about how  you do it. I’ve advertised, for instance, in high school papers for my senior shoots, but I used my models from those schools in the ad. That helped bring in a lot of new business.

85mm 2.5 1/320 ISO 320

How do you go about networking with other wedding vendors?

I started going to their parties they have at the end of the wedding season or openings of new locations. I just get to talking with them and if they seem to want to work with me we set up a time to chat and figure out how we can help each other.
What does an overview of your typical workflow look like?

It could probably be better. But I dump all my cards after  a wedding and then sort according to the images time stamps. Then a day later I just sit down and go through the whole folder and start “starring” the ones I like. I get to the end and see how many I starred and sift through them to get to the number I give my clients. From there I take my favorite 100-150 to very specifically retouch in photoshop. The rest get batched or something like that.

17-55 38mm 2.8 1/640 ISO 250

How do you stay organized?

I have all these envelopes that hold contracts, dates when checks were paid to me, dates of  engagement shoot, etc…that all pertain to one client. I then also have all the dates in my phone and on my calendar so I can immediately tell a phone inquiry if I’m available or not.
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?

Probably hot chocolate together and discussing our businesses and how we can help each other.

17-55 20mm 4.5 1/640 ISO 200


David Ziser: Digital Wake Up Call

April 28, 2009


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