Why I Became a Lifestyle + Portrait Photographer
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the one behind the camera. As a small 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 Eckerds (remember them??). Granted, I was no Annie Leibovitz, the deck often came back with blurred images of god knows what. But, I loved capturing moments in time, as a way to preserve the memories of what mattered to me. I remember wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up and thinking “I want to help make people look and feel great”. I wanted for them to see themselves through my eyes. I was always interested in people, their thoughts, emotions, and history. In retrospect, there’s no accident I became a National Educator for popular skin care 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 good about themselves.
“I want to help make people look and feel great”.
I purchased a point-and-shoot in my late teens, and my first professional DSLR camera a few years later. Since my mid-twenties, I’d been accumulating high-end lenses, camera bodies and gear, studio lighting equipment and learning editing software. I had taken on small projects for friends and family including small weddings, senior portraits, headshots, food and still photos, engagement shoots, and childbirths. In my spare time, I would go on photo-walks taking creative images of architecture, wildlife, nature, and anything that allowed me to savor the beauty of the moment. I entered (and won) photo-contests, attended workshops and events that allowed me to learn more about the creative art and specific skill of capturing light, framing the shot, and working with people's facial expressions.
Fast-forward almost two decades since purchasing my first professional DSLR camera and my first mid-life “What-The-F*$#-ness” hits… hard! I’d experienced some of life's harshest lessons while leaving corporate America to follow my dream of creating something that matters. In the midst of major change, I became a professional Yoga Instructor, which helped me navigate the rough waters of divorce, sickness, family loss, another heartbreak, and debilitating grief and depression. The exact weekend I moved into my own tiny apartment after my 12-year marriage had been destroyed, I was hired to professionally photograph a group of graduating Yoga Instructors at my local yoga studio. I gladly accepted and welcomed the mental distraction from ruminating thoughts of betrayal and separation. One successful photo shoot led to another, and I found myself creating artful imagery of amazing people in stunning yoga poses. It would be a few years before I trained to become a Yoga instructor, but I intuitively knew how to capture the integrity and beauty of each practioner and their pose.
One successful photo shoot led to another, and I found myself creating artful imagery of amazing people in stunning yoga poses.
Five years later, tens of dozens of photo shoots later, one of my yoga students noticed my signature on the photographs at the yoga studio and asked "Is there anything you can't do?" He then went on to call me a "creative genius" and asked for my website. To which I realized I never thought to create one. I had been professionally photographing for over decade, yet never thought to market myself as a professional photographer. Social media had made it easy for my to post final images, but a website was literally next level stuff and I have no idea how to build one. Until now.
So, here I am... over 10,000 images taken in the last decade and finally having designed the Atali Samuel Photography website to showcase my favorite images of past and recent shoots. I've been honored with many recent bookings and look forward to the opportunity to photograph you and yours.