What’s it Like to Work as a Freelance Photographer in New York City?

There are hundreds of photographers who move to New York, and few become super-famous. So what’s life really like for them? For someone who enjoys the simple artistry of photography, and who gets by with enough commercial work to pay the bills? One answer can be seen in this video, which profiles Sam Fan—a.k.a. SamAlive—who moved from his hometown of Taipei to NYC to make it work as a full-time freelancer:

Fan shoots all sorts of photos—as a natural traveler, he tends toward landscapes and interesting faces.

intimate portrait photos

“My favorite subject is portraits. I feel like the most difficult thing to capture is personality, and everyone has a different personality, so in order to capture a person’s personality, you must get to know the person first. That’s why I prefer shooting friends rather than strangers.”

beautiful symmetry lake landscape

Fan shoots primarily with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens—a lens he considers ideal for both portraits and landscapes. (He also admits to being lazy and only wanting to carry around a single lens.)

taiwanese american freelancer
instagram social media photos

But, as even he concedes, the type of gear you’re shooting with doesn’t matter nearly as much as having a keen aesthetic eye.

“I want to shoot more about life, being a life photographer, and in the future maybe have a wife, have children, and take pictures every day. Photography is just life. As long as I’m still alive, I’ll take a picture every day of my life.”

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