interview interview advent

Interview Advent Day 5 : Sam McAllister

12/05/2017Jake Ryan

At the age of 21, Sam McAllister is already on his way to doing big things. From working with the likes of RedBull, Beautiful Destinations and The Luxury Collection (Marriot) to founding @stemwatches. Sam has recently left university and looking to expand on his creative work. 

I first found Sam's work on Instagram after seeing his Paris posts being shared by several big travel accounts and when I checked out his full account, I discovered some really incredible work. 

We recently asked Sam a few questions about his photography work and Stem. 

See what Sam had to say below. 



First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself. 
Hey, thanks for reaching out! I’m 21-years-old and based in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve recently left university to pursue my creative side while I continue studying part-time.

I first found you on Instagram, I was quickly taken in by your stunning photos. How long have you been taking photos for?
After I left secondary school (high-school for anyone in the US), I took a gap year and travelled to Costa Rica. I picked up a GoPro after working in retail for a few months and decided to capture the adventure! Creating photos there with a fairly basic camera really got me hooked, and by the time I was home I purchased my first DSLR. That was about two years ago now! It has really kicked off in the past year however, I started to find my style and what I really wanted to create.

Did you study photography? 
Formally? No. Any skills I’ve picked up are from shooting with others or through self-education online!

If you could offer advice for anyone hoping to start out in photography, what would that be?
Don’t fall into the trap of starting with the hopes to make money. I’ve had quite a few DMs recently asking how I make enough money to travel the world with photography (I don’t haha, yet). If you start taking images with the sole goal of becoming ‘insta-famous’ or making money, it’s pretty unlikely it will happen. As with anything, if you don’t have a real passion for it, you’ll burn out before you make it.

What equipment do you shoot with?
Currently shooting on a Canon 80D, and a Sigma 18-35 lens. I also recently picked up a DJI Mavic Pro drone, something that has really opened up a new world for me.

How much time goes into editing your shots?
I don’t use Photoshop unless there’s something complicated I need to remove from a scene, or I need to adjust a complicated crop. Most of my editing takes place within Lightroom and to be honest, the majority of my time is spent organising and choosing selects from my images.

Tell us a little about Stem Watches? 
So Stem Watches is an Irish-designed watch brand that has a eco-mission; with every watch sold a tree is planted through our NGO partners WeForest.org.


What made you create Stem?
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted photography to be a passion for me and not have to rely upon it financially. Travelling is super attractive to me and I figured it would be a great idea to create an e-commerce brand that would essentially be able to run itself no matter where I was in the world. From the beginning, I also wanted to not just own a purely capitalistic business, and to give back in some way. I’ve seen quite a few people I know (online and off) start their own businesses and I decided to do so myself. Up until last year when I launched, I had boxed myself off as someone who wasn’t a ‘businessman’. I had never studied business before in school, and had never had any motivation to create something for myself.

Do you have a favourite piece of work you’ve created so far? (and why?)
Some of my most recent aerial images of surfers off the coast of Dublin have perhaps the most artistic flair. I put a tonne of work into creating my last few videos from France and Portugal. The Portugal video has a tonne of personal meaning for me.

It seems like you’ve done a fair bit of travelling, do you have a favourite destination? 
I’ve ventured mostly within Europe over the past year when I’ve saved up enough money. I’d love to see parts of Asia next, Indonesia & Japan are definitely up there on my list. I have saved albums dedicated to places, Kyoto in particular.

What would your dream project be as a photographer? 
A dream project for me would be given a budget to include a bunch of my friends and to create some fun memories in some crazy destination. There’s nothing more fun than creating with others.  Although I work harder than people think, just to travel a few times a year, I definitely understand that I’m more privileged than a lot of people my age, especially to have the safety and security of an education.

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
Finish out my new degree, hopefully start a Masters soon after and begin working with more & more brands that I love! As far as photography & videography is concerned, I’ve really hit some key milestones this year and I’ll continue to work as hard as I can at it.


Thanks Sam for taking the time to speak to TravelFoodFilm. 

Make sure you follow Sam on Instagram HERE

And check out more of his work on his website HERE

All photos in this post belong to Sam

Did you miss Day 4? 

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