Best Soul Glow (2006)

Hal Samples

A good portrait is hard to come by. Olan Mills and its smoky, swirly backdrops just don't cut it. No, environmental portraiture and a more natural expression is so the way to go. A person hanging out in normal surroundings will interact with the camera, not act for it. Conversely, a bride seated on a swing set, or someplace more casual and less stressful than a studio setting, will relax. These are techniques used by a good photographer. But Hal Samples is a great photographer. Though known mostly for gallery showings, Samples also shoots commissioned portraiture. But "commissioned" doesn't mean "less artful." What makes Samples so successful is his ability to expose the inner beauty, the spirit and the soul of his subjects. A combination of childlike enthusiasm and natural charisma exudes from the man, putting subjects--from small children to stuffy businessmen--instantly at ease. It is said that certain indigenous peoples believed a camera could steal one's soul. In this case, Hal Samples doesn't steal your soul with his camera; he coaxes it out of hiding and shows you what it looks like.


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