Photography has become a popular industry in Jamaica and it has seen a variety of talents and types – Wedding photography, Event photography and even Nature photography to name a few. But every once in a while there is a photographer with an edge, and a signature look to their photos that cannot be ignored. For me, that is D. L. Samuels.
For some, photography is a hobby, and for others it’s a passion and an artform.
Meet D. L. Samuels
Hello there, my name is Devaughney L. Samuels, also known professionally as D. L. Samuels. I am a Retoucher, Photographer and Cinematographer based in Jamaica.
He has undoubtedly created a recognizable brand for himself where he is considerate of the needs of each client, “ensuring that their vision is brought to life at its fullest potential. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing clients fall in love with the end result of our combined hard work, and that truly makes this creative life worth it.” (About D. L. Samuels).
Let’s get to know the man behind the brand – and the camera!
What inspired you to pursue photography, especially as your career choice?
As I always tell people that ask this question, it’s a long short story. Growing up, I always felt myself drawn to the creative industry, but it took me a while to figure out exactly where I would fit in. Looking back at it, I always had a knack for imagining visual partners to the music I listened to, for instance, so maybe my subconscious always had a clue.
My love for music, coupled with a slight veering off from my original plan to pursue solely cinematographer, helped me to really dive into photography as an outlet for my passions and my imagination.
Can you elaborate on your first experience with a camera/photography that convinced you that you had made the right choice to become a professional photographer?
To be honest, I couldn’t say that I had one convincing experience with photography that cemented my decision to pursue it long-term. I can say that every single time I have a shoot, and I engage with a client about their vision and what it means for them, it gives me a feeling of peace to know that I’m playing such an important role in bringing ideas to life.
Furthermore, how did you get into retouching and cinematography?
Retouching, to me, is a natural aspect of the photography field. They really do go hand-in-hand. It allows me to delve even deeper into my own skillset and pool of creativity to really make the captured image line up with the client’s vision.
I’m also a big believer that capturing an image is like creating a blank canvas, and retouching just happens to be a brush that helps to create art.
Cinematography was always my first love. Like I mentioned earlier, growing up I would listen to music and almost always found myself putting together a dynamic music video in my mind. I have had the opportunity to start fulfilling that long-time passion, some released, some yet to be released, and I intend to definitely continue honing my skills. I love to help share stories that resonate, and for me, cinematography is a medium that I’m passionate about utilizing for that.
There are many existing and upcoming talents in the Jamaican photography industry. What do you think distinguishes you from the rest?
I believe that competition should remain internal, and be more focused on improving on your skills in relation to yourself from last week or last year.
Photography is quite a saturated industry in Jamaica with many passionate individuals, but on closer inspection, there are distinctions.
Personally, I prefer utilizing natural light to capture images, and it is an aspect that I take great care in continuing my education in order to maximize my skills. It is not very common to NOT use flash or strobes in photography in Jamaica, so that alone may be a clear distinction.
I think it is also important to note that by niching down and focus on honing in on Beauty, Portrait and Fashion Photography, particularly as it relates to portfolio development and personal branding, it makes it clear that I have no intention of following the usual path of what photographers are expected to be in Jamaica.
What would you consider your most memorable shoot/project to date?
I don’t have one “most memorable shoot/project”, but I can say that I have enjoyed working with Fashion Entrepreneur/Stylist Melenigma and Fashion Brand Tashikani The Label. I love branding and portfolio development, so working with clients that take it as seriously as I do is a breath of fresh air.
Your website not only showcases your talent and services but also includes a blog with articles like 5 MISCONCEPTIONS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN JAMAICA that are very informative and relatable to other photographers. How important is it to keep your audience/clientele informed on the intricacies of your trade?
After my own frustrations when I was just starting out professionally, I realized that certain integral information isn’t well-known, even among those in the industry. I would never claim to be the ultimate expert, but if I can share what I continue to research, while encouraging others to becoming more informed about the nitty-gritty of their field, then the landscape of the Jamaican photography industry can eventually shift for the better.
As creatives, it’s hard enough just setting down roots in a “non-traditional” career path, so we need to do our due diligence in sharing the information that can help you to sustain continued business growth.
We all need to know what release forms and usage fees are so that the landscape is better for all of us.
There is always an assumption that Jamaican photographers do mostly events, but what types of photography/concepts do you personally prefer to do as a creative?
I personally prefer Beauty, Portrait, and Fashion Photography. I love to capture the details of a face or of a modelled outfit, so those niches work best for how I process my creativity. Especially as a natural light photographer, and as someone not fond of large crowds, events are not suited for my particular skillset and I am okay with that. There is no shortage of wedding and event photographers in Jamaica, so I doubt that I am missed.
Are there any new concepts or locations you’d like to shoot and include in future projects?
At the moment, I am planning out editorials for the upcoming year, and intend to hone in on a unique intersection of fashion and storytelling. I have some locations in mind already, but am still working out the kinks in the logistics.
Where do you hope to see your brand in the next 3-5 years? Both in Jamaica and internationally.
Locally, I see myself pursuing a more teacher/guide role in my career. I am already working on my first book, and I intend to begin rolling out workshops (in-person & virtual) for beginner photographers and retouchers.
Internationally, I will definitely have been more established within the editorial sphere, and look forward to pushing myself as an individual in order to make my brand the best that it can be (for itself, rather than in relation to any others).
All in all, I will continue to provide my clients with quality images for their portfolio development and their personal branding, and I look forward to it.
Finally, what upcoming projects/collaborations do you want people to look out for?
I am currently the main cinematographer of the ‘Rooted’ Docu-Series, and I am really excited to share the stories of our interviewees within the coming months. I will also be providing more content via my YouTube channel, ShotByDLSamuels, including tutorials and behind-the-scenes of some shoots.
For more info on D.L. Samuels, his brand & what he’s up to, check out his: