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About

Since a very early age I have been fascinated with both projecting myself onto captured images while at the same time siphoning the subjects of those images into their purest forms.

I was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin to a couple of artists, specializing respectively in metalsmithing and photography. I spent the first four years of my life in the Midwest before moving to the small town of Eugene, Oregon. While spending my definitive years in Oregon, I would often accompany my father to his photo shoots and see the photos he would take, as well as his process and eye for detail. I haphazardly stumbled upon an extremely therapeutic and gratifying artistic outlet that wouldn't fully manifest itself until my teenage years.

Towards the end of high school my father bought me my first real DSLR. I had always fooled around with point and shoots, and dabbled in film, but this new found power of a full frame digital image with such intricate detail and clarity spurred me to plunge full on into photography. I started by shooting my friends, many of them skateboarders, and found that I had a knack for capturing movement and power. Perhaps it had to do with a lack of self-preservation, or simply naiveté, but I always threw myself closer to the action than any other kids doing what I did. I started doing photo work for Tactics, a local skate shop in Eugene, which involved shots of team riders. This later turned into a product photography job in which I learned the ins and outs of Photoshop.

Entering college my photography dropped off, I began a major in Digital Arts, which quickly shifted into Film and Cinema Studies. My formal education in photography stopped there, but through film, I gained a unique understanding of framing and composition.

After graduating, I moved to Portland and took a year break to work whatever jobs I could- movie theaters, pet care, film promotion, food service, you name it. It wasn't until I returned to Eugene to work as a video editor for an educational production company that I began to shoot photos again. I found that not only did I have the sufficient funds to support the equipment I needed, but there was also a gold mine of new subject matter that had sprung up in the year I had been away.

Oddly enough, the sport that first got me into shooting photos on my own renewed my passion for it. The Washington/Jefferson skate park opened up in the summer of my return, and I began to hang out there almost every day. I made friends with a lot of the skaters there, asking if they'd be cool with me taking photos of them and then sending them whatever I got. My work started showing up on Instagram and Tumblr, and my name was popping up more and more, buoyed solely by social media. I began getting spots in newspaper ads from Tactics, as well as features in articles concerning the new skate park. Suddenly I was being asked to do gallery shows for local art events, and soon I was freelancing for various publications, both local and worldwide.

Long story short, in the past 3 years my photographs have been featured on the OPB and NPR websites as well as Vice Magazine, Sciences OccultesVortex Music Magazine, Premiere Guitar Magazine, and The Eugene Weekly, the latter of which published an "rising artist" profile of me in their 2015 Arts Hound Issue. Apart from my journalistic and artistic endeavors, I have been hired professionally for commissioned portraiture. Most recently I worked with Metric Collective, a NY-based marketing and technology company to provide a full photos set for their employees, which is now featured on their main website page

In the last year I have shifted into music photography, profiling music artists and shooting concerts. Concert photography and portraiture have come to the forefront of my interests. I draw influence from photographers such as Estevan Oriol, Todd Cooper, James Nachtwey, Ash Thayer, Atiba Jefferson, Mary Ellen Mark, Ricky Powell, Boogie and Weegee. I have a profound love for black and white photos, and am fascinated by the ways in which the high contrast so effectively brings out beauty in the flaws that every human body retains throughout life. I feel that while I do keep the essence of my subjects largely intact, there is almost always an overarching element of darkness, or questioning of self imbued into every photo I take. I am fascinated with the sense of danger associated with capturing images of the uncanny. Even if that theme fails to be present in the subject, I often construct my shots with the intention of drawing some sense of sadness, pain or emotion from whatever I am photographing.

 

 

Info

4929 SE Hawthorne. Apt. 104
Portland, OR 97215

Phone: (541) 510-1194
Email: sam@samgehrkephotography.com

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.
— Man Ray
The difficulty with color is to go beyond the fact that it’s color – to have it be not just a colorful picture but really be a picture about something. It’s difficult. So often color gets caught up in color, and it becomes merely decorative. Some photographers use [ it ] brilliantly to make visual statements combining color and content; otherwise it is empty.
— Mary Ellen Mark