My Photographic Heros no 7: Sam Abell

My Photographic Heros no 7: Sam Abell

Sam Abell

He thinks about the horizon line and where he is going to place it.The video below on the Cowboy photograph, I would show to my students as an example of a complex photograph and his description of how he made it would often lead to great discussions on how and what a photograph can do. The power of description and the layering of the different elements, would often get student photographers to attempt more complex photographic compositions.

This changed how I thought about my own images. Sam Abell was for a long time a National Geographic photographer, which is one of the places that I wanted to work when I first started with photography, life however took me in different directions, I still like the idea of National Geographic, and I appreciate what these photographers did for the magazine. Sam seems to be very generous with his ideas and is willing to talk about his process of making images and I like this as it shows that a photographer is able to explore their methods and keep adapting as life and interests change.

YouTube videos with and about


What I learnt from Sam Abell

Think about horizon placement, wait for the photograph. use your instincts as to what is a good photograph, don’t give up when making an image, his story about making an image of some fruit in a window is a great example of this, that is featured in The Life of a Photograph.

Links to articles on his work.

Sam Abell’s photography website

John Paul Caponigro has a article listing 21 Quotes by Photographer Sam Abell that is worth reading for examples of his thinking. Here is one example:

“One of the things that I most believe in is the compose and wait philosophy of photography. It’s a very satisfying, almost spiritual way to photograph. Life isn’t’ knocking you around, life isn’t controlling you. You have picked your place, you’ve picked your scene, you’ve picked your light, you’ve done all the decision making and you are waiting for the moment to come to you….” Sam Abell

Sam Abel Interview on A Photo Editor

Books by/on Sam Abell

The Life of a Photographby Sam Abell (Amazon US link), (Amazon UK link)


Seeing Gardens, by Sam Abell (Amazon US link), (Amazon UK link)


 Sam Abell: The Photographic Life, by Sam Abell (Amazon US link), (Amazon UK link)


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