- September 30, 2021
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As a professional photographer, clicking the shutter on a scene or subject captures a moment in time. In a nutshell, that’s what Sammie Saxon does. That’s how he earns a living, capturing forever moments and memories.
His life today is a far cry from growing up poor in tiny Talbotton, Georgia. Like many small towns across the state, Talbotton is a “blink and miss it” sort of place. The population is 970 and there are about three stoplights around the town square. It’s off the beaten path and rarely a destination. Not that a few of the homes surrounding the main drag aren’t beautiful structures built in the 1800’s and graced with tall columns surrounded by manicured lawns beneath towering magnolia trees. The kind of architecture reminiscent of the antebellum South but not necessarily motivating for a kid with talent who dreamed of a life beyond those boundaries.
Talbotton is home to former Georgia Governor, George Towns, journalist and editor, Charles Henry Jones, and the place where Isador Straus, co-founder of Macy’s Department Store, got his start. Those figures began rising to history in the 1800s. Today, there is Sammie Saxon. There is every reason to believe that his name will be added to the list of Talbotton’s famous sons.
The history and the setting may not have inspired Sammie’s future but his life growing up in this quaint town certainly did.
“I guess my mother noticed some artistic ability in me early on. I asked for a camera and she bought me a point-and-shoot when I was five years old. It was a Kodak 110. That was what she could afford,” Sammie explained.
He responded by playing around with it, interacting with people, and taking pictures.
Sammie was surrounded by family who worked hard and could be described as artistic in their own right. His mother was a hair dresser and makeup artist. His grandfather was a barber who built his own shop on their property. His uncle was a folk artist. Sammie was amazed by his uncle’s skills in illustration with only one arm, the other being lost in a car accident. They were all major influences in his life because they “believed in me and encouraged me.”
“We were so poor, I couldn’t afford to buy a school yearbook. I took pictures of my friends and made my own yearbook. It was my way of holding on to those memories.”
Taking pictures and capturing memories became even more important when his mom remarried. His stepdad was in the military. They moved to Fort Bliss in Texas and then later to Columbus, Georgia, just outside Fort Benning. Sammie was taking pictures all along the way. Once again, the camera provided him a way to hold on to those moments in time.
“I was fortunate that in high school my art teacher recognized my interest in photography and steered me toward college. I never even realized that was a possibility in my life. But when someone believes in you it’s a challenge to do better and be better.”
Sammie was able to attend college through scholarships and his professors helped him with other scholarship awards. Not once did he ever suspect his photography skills would be taken seriously.
One of his best friends from Japan, who he met in college, introduced him to digital photography, although he had long surpassed the simple point-and-shoot days.
“My final exhibit for college involved a video for someone who needed a modeling shoot.”
That would lead Sammie to connections with leading magazines who needed professional shots of models to grace their covers and advertisements. These days Sammie has a manager in New York and travels there for photo sessions as well as many other locales.
He’s done work for Nordstrom, Givenchy, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, and Amazon Fashion Week in Tokyo. His work has appeared in magazines including Le’Coeur, Elle, and Vogue. Quite a ride for a kid from a small town in Georgia.
Along the way Sammie won contests sponsored by Canon, a leading manufacturer of digital camera equipment.
“The next thing I know, I’m working with actress Eva Longoria who had seen a photo I had taken with a model who looked like she was underwater. Then I’m rubbing shoulders with director Ron Howard and actor Jamie Foxx.”
He also ran into someone from America’s Next Top Model who asked him to do a photo shoot.
It may be where you are or who you know that helps guide your path to success but none of this would have happened if Sammie Saxon didn’t have incredible skills. This somewhat shy and reserved young man has a story but prefers to tell it behind the camera.
“I don’t like the spotlight.” Somehow the spotlight found him anyway.
From humble beginnings in Talbotton, Georgia to New York and beyond, Sammie Saxon has arrived. He is living his dream and capturing memories that are timeless.
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