Sleeping Awake | Interview With Surreal Fantasy Photographer Samantha Goss
Samantha Goss is one of those artists that has an eye for the shot and the creativity to make wonders happen. Her surreal photography is often times straight out of a beautiful fantasy world.
We were lucky here at SLR Lounge to sit down with Samantha and ask her a few questions about her photography and inspiration.
What inspired you to start doing surreal photographs?
As a kid I’ve always loved surreal imagery and they didn’t even have to be photography related. I love fairies, dragons, unicorns and worlds that aren’t our own. So movies, shows, video games, paintings or anything that was related to those fantasies have always inspired me. I just loved the idea of being able to fly or do magic!
How did start your work? Did you find any parts about it difficult?
I started out drawing fine art and would create my own little worlds through that medium. At 13 years old, I found photography and started learning the best ways that I could. Since I didn’t have the money for props, costumes, models etc. I would use Photoshop to create my images. The most difficult thing I had to go through with my work was allowing myself to revert back to my 13 year old imagination.
When I finally had the chance in college to take a photography class, I lost that creativity. I found it to be very strict and every assignment and rule were expected to be followed precisely, not allowing much room for creativity. I stuck with that mentality after that class for a long time. Everything was by the textbook until I finally gave myself the permission to play again. Since then my work has dramatically changed, and improved creatively.
How do you find your ideas?
All my concepts are based on my personal dreams or events happening in my life. Each of my images talk about something different, they aren’t always crazy looking like my dreams are. One goal I plan on working on is creating images as close to how my dreams really are.
Right now, my work shows a sophisticated side to my dreams and life events. My work is a healing process for me and a huge outlet. I used to be so afraid to show people my work because I feared they wouldn’t understand it. To my surprise, I get a lot of comments telling me just the opposite. It fills me with extreme happiness that I am finally to a point in my work that I can convey my dreams to my viewers. By conveying them, I am allowing my images to connect and heal me, but also to connect and heal others as well.
Do you sketch your ideas out or just go with the flow?
This is something I have recently started doing, it has helped my images improve a lot. I am able to sit and think about my concepts more and plan the image better. Last year, around this time, I decided to start a ‘dream journal’. I have terrible insomnia and sleep paralysis, which cause very vivid dreams when I do sleep. When I wake from a dream, I’ll remember keywords and write them down to help me. Later, while awake, I will study my dreams and try to understand why I dreamt it. It’s amazing how your dreams contort your waking life and show you truth in your sleep. There have been so many times where I didn’t think something was bothering me, but my dreams clearly showed the situation at hand was really eating at me.
How did you get your start in photography?
I didn’t know where to start honestly. I didn’t know how to get my name out there, and I was scared of no one liking my work. My dear friend, Amanda, set up a little fun photo shoot for me one day. She got a bunch of people to come out and allow me to photograph them. I was able to learn to connect with people ever better because of her help with that. That photo shoot got my feet wet and I started really loving to shoot. If there is anyone to thank for helping me when I started, it would be her and my first model, Hunter.
Do you have a favorite photograph, and why?
This is the question I can never really answer because it is constantly changing. Since my work is a huge reflection of myself, I connect with my work deeply and it is hard to say one is more favored than another. As of right now, I would say my image ‘Imaginary’ is my favorite. I love everything about it. The meaning for me is very personal and something I wanted to share with others for a long time. I finally was able to find a way to create it the way that I saw it.
Are there any photographers that inspire you?
I am inspired by so many photographers. Some of the times it’s not even their work that inspires me, but their drive and determination. I love Sally Mann’s work the most. Not just because of her beautiful images, but that she didn’t care what other people thought. She stands behind each and every image 100%, that is something I am striving to do.
What advice would you give to fellow photographers?
Don’t be afraid to appear dumb. If you want a shot, go for it. Who cares who is watching, or what they think of you. This is your life, your love, and your art. People that wait around for things in life get nowhere. I have bad anxiety in crowds of people. I won’t lie, I usually don’t talk to people unless they come up and introduce themselves to me first. I get nervous, but when I create my work, that anxiety vanishes. My work is something I truly love and no amount of judgement from others will keep me from continuing. For surreal photographers like myself, don’t let people tell you that you aren’t a photographer, you are! I use photography as a medium for my art and I have seen many amazing manipulations created both on screen and in the dark room.
CREDITS : Photographs by Samantha Goss are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.