Game Changer: Samm Blake

Every wedding photographer has one special image that has defined their careers and Lisa set out to ask a selection of those who have most influenced her to nominate their stand out shots for her monthly column in Professional Photo Magazine.


We’ve all had those moments in our careers where we get into our groove, and end up coasting along for a little while. I know for me, it was feeling a bit stagnant in my career that made me apply for British Journal of Photography’s Wedding Photographer of the Year award in 2010. Winning this was a game changing moment for me. For others, it can be taking the chance to look beyond your tried and tested techniques, which is of course a risk for a wedding photographer – there’s only one chance to get it right for your couples, after all! Australian photographer Samm Blake‘s fine art photography background has given her a skilled and sensitive eye for portraiture, with her images garnering acclaim for their honesty, vulnerability and unfeigned connection to their subjects. Her photojournalism degree allows her to think on her feet, which is exactly what turned this image around for her and made it into a game changing moment. Let’s hear what Samm had to say about this shot below.

What Samm Said…

“This shot, which was taken in Palm Springs at the Frederick Loewe Estate, was a game changer for me because it made me realise that I should embrace the natural light more, particularly in tricky lighting conditions or at different times of day. I had set up a flash to get the first dance but, after a few initial shots, I realised it looked awful and didn’t capture the ambience or the atmosphere of this location. It was twilight and beautiful, but the flash was killing all that. Quickly cranking my ISO up to 10,000 I was able to capture a far better shot of this couple’s first dance. It taught me to push what we think our cameras are capable of and to not play it safe. The better photographs always happen when there is some risk involved.”