HELLO GORGEOUS (ps. that YOU!)
Atali Samuel - Photographer a.k.a The Visual Storyteller.
For over a decade I have been capturing stunning moments as a lifestyle and portrait photographer. My lens is obsessed with organic emotion, natural movement, and pure connection. As an RYT 500 Yoga Instructor, my seasoned background in teaching and guiding students allows me to focus on a kaleidoscope of details at once. I compose each image as a singular work of art addressing lighting, composition, movement, background, personality, and overall vibe.
Like many others, Im terrible at writing my own bio, Voyage Dallas wrote it best...
Atali, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the one behind the camera, savoring visual candy one snapshot at a time. As a child, my mother gifted me a traditional film camera and sent me outside to “go play.” I would spend hours taking photos of anything interesting and anxiously wait a week for the photos to get developed at Eckerd’s (remember them??). Granted, I was no Annie Leibovitz, the deck often came back with blurred images of God knows what. But, I loved capturing colors, still life, and moments in time, as a way to feed my creative outlet.
Back then, I already knew what I wanted to do when I “grew up” – help people feel and look confident on the inside and out. I would often hear lovely people make self-deprecating comments, refusing compliments, and finding fault in their appearance. Puzzled, I believed they were attractive – if only they could see themselves through my admiring eyes. I was frequently interested in people, their thoughts, emotions, and life history. In retrospect, there’s no accident I became a National Educator for holistic CPG brands, then a Cosmetic Formulator, a Holistic Health Coach, and ultimately a Yoga Instructor. Most of my career, I’ve been focused on serving others in any way to help them feel worthy and self-confident.
I purchased my first DSLR camera body in my early twenties, towing it along to every outing. As a former public speaker, I had the opportunity to travel all over the country, never missing a chance to photograph snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and crystal blue beaches. I captured images of mouthwatering local dishes, interesting people, and busy urban streets. In retrospect, one did NOT want to be behind me in the airport security line considering my bulky amount of gear and lenses. Internationally, my lenses a.k.a “glass eyes” have captured marvelous photos in India, France, Italy, Israel, Canada and Mexico.
Folks took notice and requested me to photograph portraits for their friends and family including small events, high school seniors, business headshots, culinary and product still photos, engagements and birth stories. In my spare time, I would venture about DFW on photo-walks snapping arty images of architecture, wildlife, nature, and anything that allowed me to relish the beauty of each moment. I entered (and won) photo-contests, attended workshops and events to improve my skills in original art composition, capturing natural light, framing the shot, and working with people’s facial expressions.
Everything seemed perfect… and BAM! Fast-forward 15 years and my life was suddenly turned upside down. My spirit was crippled by a mid-life plot twist worthy of day-time talk show coverage complete with “oh-no-he-di’int” and “what human being does that?!?!”. Everything I’d ever learn to trust and rely on was destroyed in the most unfathomable way. In a span of four relentless years I’d experienced some of life’s harshest lessons, all while transitioning out of corporate America to follow my intuition of creating something that actually mattered. In the midst of massive changes, I found refuge at my local yoga studio – Gaia Flow Yoga and followed the path to becoming a certified Yoga Instructor, filling my time teaching several classes a week and attending over 800 hours of teacher training at Gaia Flow Yoga and AYM in Rishikesh, India. Gratefully, serving others kept my heart above water and helped navigate the rough tide of betrayal, divorce, constant illness, several family losses, and a second – more devastating loss and heartbreak. What ensued was debilitating grief and intense despair. I wanted to be existentially done, plain and simple.
The exact weekend I moved out of my home after my 15-year marriage had ended, I was asked to photograph a group of graduating Yoga Instructors at Gaia Flow Yoga. I gladly accepted and welcomed the mental distraction from ruminating thoughts of sorrow and hopelessness. For an entire afternoon, I found myself once again immersed in the beauty of angles, color, and lighting. Seeing life again through my lens gave me a different perspective and sense of belonging, capturing each Yogi’s vulnerability and personal story. One successful photoshoot led to another, and I found myself creating artful imagery of astonishing Yogis in magnificent poses. At the time, it would be a couple of years before I trained to become a Yoga instructor, but I intuitively knew how to capture the integrity and splendor of the poses.
Five years later, tens of dozens of photoshoots later, over 10,000 images taken I am beyond grateful. Where I once felt broken, rejected, and useless I now feel pride, strength, and a sense of belonging again. Grief can play some intense mind games, I had no idea how much change I would be forced to embrace. Had it not been for my creative outlet of photography, I might have barely risen from the ashes, but more than likely with a weaker spirit and no sense of purpose. I am beyond grateful for my natural gift of connecting with others through my lens. I feel inspired during every single photoshoot and honored when my clients invite me into their world, allowing me to share in their moments.
Has it been a smooth road?
Entrepreneurship is rarely a smooth road, especially in the photography industry. One must stay motivated while balancing the business aspect of attracting and booking clients as well as a master both the art and science of the craft. Photography is just as technical as it was emotional and precise as it is impromptu. Clients not only connect with the final images but also the photographer and the photoshoot experience. Every day is a new opportunity to focus my energy towards success and developing my career as a professional photographer.
When I first started, as most amateur photographers do, my passion was nothing more than a hobby. Friends and family took notice and asked me to photograph them. I thought, “wow, I could be a professional photographer” not realizing the enormous competition and superior technical range of other experts. I had yet to specialize in a type of photography and social media marketing hadn’t yet emerged. Promoting oneself was still very much word-of-mouth, but a beautiful image wasn’t enough to launch a successful career. It’s common to feel “not good enough” as a photographer. There will always be someone better, more skilled, more artistic, with superior equipment, and more years of experience.
As in most creative businesses, it takes raw determination and grit to follow this dream. Networking and marketing play as vital a role as does the photographer’s skill set and passion for stunning imagery. One must be able to bond with clients, capture unfiltered moments, master camera settings, manipulate lighting, focus on fine details, and develop the technical skills of photo editing. One must manage their accounting, expenditures, scheduling, and appointments as well as deliver images in a sensible manner – which can seem overwhelming at times.
Professional photography is more about self-motivation than it is extrinsic approval and reviews. Most artistic personalities tend to internalize lack of bookings as rejection, rather than allow the lull between photo shoots to improve their skillset and build their portfolios. I’ve learned to stay focused on the path ahead, to allow for the unknown, and continue sharing my visual storytelling via paid photoshoots and private photo projects. The business will grow itself as long as one remains wildly determined to capture the world through our brilliant eyes.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Atali Samuel Photography – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’m best known for portraiture, specifically lifestyle images with an organic feel and raw emotion. My clients always say: I help boost their confidence because I’m able to capture the best version of their physical appearance. I use the “conceal and reveal” method of posing, meaning we hide or minimize the physical features they are less than pleased with and reveal their favorite, most complimented aspects. I don’t believe in Photoshop to falsify their appearance, rather manipulate my camera settings and lighting to enhance their natural attractiveness. In addition to fitness, lifestyle, and portrait sessions, companies hire me to capture product stills and real estate images. Lately, I’ve been booking many headshots sessions for small companies and entrepreneurs looking to improve their personal branding.
Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
I was raised in a strict European and Eastern Indian household where perfection was considered a normal standard. My right-brained father, an international chef, and culinary genius in the Dallas restaurant scene inspired my creative and relentless side. My left-brained mother and step-dad both spoke “Accounting” as a second language, from which my logical and somewhat OCD personality traits originated. As the eldest of 4 half-siblings, I naturally took on the role of caretaker, making sure everyone’s needs were met, and folks were comfortable in a wildly dysfunctional environment. I owe my small victories to my dynamic yet adaptive personality. Through the years, there’s been no shortage of opportunities to cultivate my artistic talents, leadership qualities, and empathetic nature. I could literally write a book about the millions of dramatic and comedic threads woven into the fabric that is my story. Regardless, one thing remains true. I love to serve and support others – continuing forward in my mission to help people feel loved, safe, and confident – both as an experienced Yoga Instructor and professional Photographer.
From my clients' perspective, here are some kind words from smart people
“Having photos taken by Atali is like having a conversation with a friend. There is a comfort and ease of letting yourself come out naturally.”
"Atali Samuel has an incredible eye for capturing those small details that takes an average picture to one that is exceptional! Once you see her portfolio, you will be equally impressed as was I and looking forward to having her do all of our company photography!"
"After seeing examples of her work on display at Gaia Flow Yoga, I booked a photoshoot with Atali Samuels. Her photos showed a strong artistic sense which sets her apart from other local photographers. Arriving at her home studio, the backdrop and array of lighting equipment revealed a highly professional operation. I’m naturally nervous being photographed, Atali’s calming presence put me at ease. Atali knows her business! She guided me through an extensive series of poses, demonstrating the breadth of her skills. The number and diversity of photos she takes in an hour session is stunning! Did numerous wardrobe changes with a wide range of props and settings achieving a variety of themes. Atali’s skillfulness was unmistakable as she provided real-time feedback as she led me through the shoot. When I got the photos back I knew Atali was the right choice! Great work was done by a skilled photographer with a sensitive, perceptive and discerning artistic eye. Best of all, I was able to get an awesome portfolio at a great price! I highly recommend Atali, especially now before she figures out how talented she is and starts charging the big bucks!"
Plano, TX 75075