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Interview Advent Day 25 : Sam Potter

12/25/2017Jake Ryan

Sam Potter (or you may know him as Captain Potter) is a photographer and film maker from Hawaii who is doing huge things right now. 

Sam travels the world capturing incredible moments and documenting them for his audience, but while doing so and inspiring thousands, Sam always makes time to spread a positive message and share his knowledge. 

Sam is a huge inspiration of mine and I recently asked him a few questions about his work and his travels. 

Hey Sam, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Sam Potter, I’m from Hawaii, I love to surf. I’m a big free diver and I love anything outdoors.

Hawaii is my home and I absolutely love it here but I also have a drive to keep leaving but I will always, always come back because it’s incredible here. My home is perfect but the rest of the world needs to be seen as well. 

Have you learnt anything about yourself while travelling?
I have learnt everything about myself while travelling. Travelling has been my biggest teacher. It’s opened my mind to things. It’s changed me completely. I encourage travelling to everyone and I know that it’s hard and that it costs money but I would view it as an investment in yourself. For anyone who is on the brink of wanting to do a trip, book that ticket!! There is no teacher quite like it.  

What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had while travelling?
That’s a good question. I have so many. I feel like the moments that pass by really fast are the most memorable moments to me. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have time to completely comprehend them and so they stick in my mind because I kind of fantasise them. But I have all these little flashes from all these countries that I’ve been that stick with me.

But one of my favourite memories is this time I was in Tanjung Putting and I’m in the rainforest and I put my drone in the air to get this shot I’d been planning the whole trip, but just as I did it started pouring. This huge downpour started out of nowhere unexpectedly, these huge droplets just hitting the deck and I was so stressed trying to get my drone in, but as I finally managed it, I turned around and this river had turned into something out of my dreams, the colours were incredible and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, so I sat on the deck in the rain in awe of this beautiful scene before me. 

Do you travel full time?
I travel about half the time. I’m always coming home to my little island tucked away in the pacific, I love it here. However one of these days I’d like to attempt full time travel but as of now I’m a one man show and am constantly creating content, which takes a lot of down time, which isn’t something you get a lot of while traveling haha! So returning home is necessary at this point.

You’ve been a huge hit on social media, are their any sides to social media you don’t like?
Obviously. They’re positives and negatives to everything. It can be damaging because people look at these people on Instagram and think their life is perfect. They then compare other peoples lives to their own. You shouldn’t be comparing your life to anyone else's. You have a life and a purpose and you need to get out and find that purpose and that passion.

But I don’t think the positives of social media get enough light. How's this one? We’re all connected, really connected. We can see into other worlds, for example we can see what’s going on in Zimbabwe right now, we can see that Mugabe has been overthrown. We can see the damage that war is doing to Syria right now, we can see the ice caps melting in Antarctica. 

We can plug into other peoples lives and understand other people.

Understanding each other is the key to everything, to living with each other to realising we’re all connected on a much deeper level and maybe social media is the ticket to understanding that. 

I love your photography, when did you first start taking photos?
I actually started taking photos when I was in fifth grade. I saved up all my money in a shoe box, I was quite a little entrepreneur. I’d pay my uncle 10 cent a mango. He had a really good mango tree and I would go out on the curb and sell mangos and I ended up saving $320 and buying myself a camera and that’s where it all started. 

Have you always been creative?
I guess so. I have always loved creating whether it was arts and crafts or building forts etc. I owe that to my parents. 

What do you think the most important factor is in getting the perfect shot?
I think everyone should stop trying to get the perfect shot. Just capture moments and shoot what you love and that’s how you’ll get the perfect shot. It’s not about it being flawless. 

Do you have any favourite photographers? 
I’m sure it’s always changing but right now it’s Paul Nicklen. The reason is because he’s using his art form, his voice and his camera to spread the message of climate change. And anyone who uses their art to contribute to something bigger than themselves and to spread a message, I have the upmost respect for. 

Creators in general who inspire me, tend to land on the more video side. The first would be Nainoa Langer. He is just incredible with everything he does. All around just the perfect example of a one man show. His work is so well done. He tells good stories, he has good editing, great sound design and amazing, amazing shots.

I also admire Sam Kolder. A more specific reason is that I love that he created a style. A style he is known for, you look at it and you can tell this is a Sam Kolder piece. 

Another is Rory Kramer, I love how he has put his personality, his heart and his vulnerability into his work. 

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration in everything. It’s literally every little thing from the people in my life to the places I travel, to something as simple as a shadow or a leaf. I think being a student of life is such a key and it brings so much happiness. Something as simple as a leaf falling can give me an idea for a shot and then maybe an idea for an entire piece. And of course, I find inspiration in everywhere I go, I am inspired by the people, the culture and the nature of the place. 

I also think it’s important to study. I’m not in school but I never stop studying. I’m always learning and some of it is more vague like I’m just learning throughout my life but some of it is very concrete and I will study this person this month etc. 

So for example, this month, I am studying Martin Luther King and Heath Ledger. I know that’s kind of a weird pair but I am studying Martin Luther King because it’s Martin Luther King and I am studying Heath Ledger because of the dedication he put towards his craft and his art work and that intrigues me. 

I am also diving in to pretty much every director out there. I am completely intrigued with the way their minds work. Especially Quentin Tarrentino but all of them really, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese etc. 

Outside of travel, what else makes you happy?
My friends and my family, just the people in my life. I love them so dearly and I am so blessed to have them around. 

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
A lot! 

So stay tuned, check me out on Instagram and my YouTube, there is going to be a lot going down on my YouTube in 2018. 

I am out to change the world! 

I’m also planning on going to some wild places. Some out-there, rarely explored destinations. I can’t disclose them but they’re going to be crazy. 

Thanks Sam for taking the time 
to speak to TravelFoodFilm

Make sure you follow Sam's journey on 

All photos in this post belong to Sam. 

Did you miss day 24? Catch up here - Matt Komo


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