One day I found myself Googling “Best GIF Tumblrs”.
I typed those exact words into the search box, and after a few clicks here and there, boom: Sam Cannon.
Have you heard of her? Have you seen her Tumblr? Well if you don’t know, now you know…
This gal has some crazy talent, behind the lens and in post production. One glance at her page and you’ll be like…”okay, I get it.” She shoots in two different formats — video + photo — and uses her skills to blend the two together and bring an image to life.
Formally, a “GIF” is a lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images. Or, in other words, all those moving pictures you see on Tumblr getting reblogged and shared over and over again. The GIF craze is definitely here to stay…at least for the moment… so when I reached out to Sam and found out she would be willing to collaborate with us and produce some exclusive content for the Free People Tumblr, I was stoked. Turns out she went to the same high school as one of my current roommates, and we happen to know a handful of the same people. It’s funny how the world connects sometimes… goes to show it’s really not that big.
I got to hang with Sam one night in Brooklyn and learned how cool of a chick she is. The next day she popped over to the set of our Festival Lookbook shoot, featuring the all-star model Martha Hunt, and started making magic. I was in the background, snapping a few BTS shots here and there, but mostly watching Sam and the way she works. I wish I knew half the stuff she does when it comes to editing, so it was really fun to watch her on set interacting with Martha.
The result? A collection of content that moves, inspires, and brings festival fashion to life. Wanna see? You’ll have to go check out our Tumblr to find out ;) Head on over to see the amazing GIFs Sam has created for us, and get to know more about her below!
Where did you grow up? What was your favorite thing about your home town?
I grew up in sunny South Florida. My favorite thing was living five minutes from the beach, followed closely by how much fresh seafood I got to eat.
Where do you currently live? Can you tell us a little bit about your neighborhood?
I currently live in Ridgewood, Queens. I’ve been here for less than a year so I’m still finding new places in my neighborhood all the time. I’ve already got the essentials down though: my favorite coffee shop, the best breakfast spot, and a bar in walking distance that has a great photobooth and darts.
What does a day in the life of Sam Cannon look like?
Wake up. Feed my cat, Bones. Feed myself coffee. The first thing I look forward to is listening to music while I walk to the subway. First song of the day is very important. I spend a lot of time walking around the city by myself and listening to music. When I’m editing a shoot I’m constantly tethered to a computer, so it’s really nice to spend time outside and moving to recharge and find inspiration. I spend my days shooting stills and video, for myself and for brands, and feel really lucky to spend so much of my time creating images. I spend my nights editing, emailing, and planning shoots; and when I do get a free night it hopefully involves a lot of dancing.
When did you first start getting into photography? Did you always know you wanted to study it in college?
I started out wanting to shoot video. I got my first video camera when I was in elementary school and I used it to audition for the local arts middle school. I took my first photo class in eighth grade and went to the Dreyfoos School of the Arts for photography and film. It’s kind of crazy to think that I’ve never really wanted to do anything else, but I just fell in love with shooting at a really young age and knew that it was going to be one of the most important things in my life. I ended up moving to New York to get my BFA in Fine Art Photography, and I really can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What first attracted you to GIFs and wanting to create some of your own?
I’m really interested in the relationship between photo and video, and gifs were this amazing format that let me try to create images somewhere in the middle. I started making them while in college and posting them to my blog for fun, but I had no idea how much the file format was going to influence my life. Some of the best experiences I’ve had, and the coolest people I’ve met have been because of gifs. There are a lot of really talented artists out there using the format. I’m really grateful to be a part of that.
When you made the move to NYC, how did you start making a name for yourself on Tumblr and in the world of GIF creation?
Really I just tried to make as much work as I could while I was still in school, that way when I graduated and moved here I could hit the ground running. I got to do some really cool work while I was still a student, it was hard trying to balance it but it was really fulfilling. I would shoot some gifs for brands in between classes/assignments, and got to take time off to cover New York Fashion Week for Tumblr. Everything changed when I was able to finally move here after graduation though. The best part about living in NYC is getting to hang out with so many of the other gif artists whose work inspires me. We have this really great community here and everyone is so supportive and collaborative. You should check out traceloops.tumblr.com and zolloc.com.
What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I love shoots that provide me with the opportunity to travel. I got to go to Kauai, Hawaii to shoot some gifs for St. Ives with Mr. GIF (mr-gif.com). That was a really great trip. I went to Cuba while I was still a student and got to shoot a lot of video there. This May I am going to China for the first time and am really excited to make gifs on the other side of the world.
I know you’re a FP fan… how would you describe your personal style, and which of our five girls do you think you relate to most?
Feeling comfortable is always most important to me. Not just physical comfort, but feeling confident in what you’re wearing. I look for pieces that make me feel like me, and I get really attached to pieces that I love. If I find a new pair of shoes that feel right I will wear them into the ground and then probably just go buy the same pair again. My go-to is usually just a pair of black jeans, chunky boots, a soft shirt, and tons of long necklaces. I think I’m probably a mix of Lou and Sandy.
What was it like being on set of the Festival Lookbook shoot with Martha and the FP Crew?
There was such good energy on that set. Martha looked incredible and there was great music playing the whole time. Obviously she’s an incredible model, but she also has some really impressive dance moves.
What are the essentials that you always keep in your camera bag?
Other than my main camera and lenses: a waterproof point and shoot, tape, fishing line, knife (not usually for fights, haha), Chapstick, small sketchbook and pen, emergency candy.
Any hidden talents you’re willing to share with us?
If I had never picked up a camera I probably would have focused all my energy into music. I love singing and song writing, and my mom is a professional musician so I grew up around it and she’s a really inspiring woman to be around.
If you could give one piece of advice to any aspiring creative freelancer, what would it be?
Keep lists of your short and long term goals, and remind yourself of your accomplishments rather than focusing energy on mistakes or failures. It’s really easy to get sucked into your own fear and self doubt, but it’s really unhealthy and will keep you from moving forward. Work hard have fun.
What does being “free” mean to you?
For me, being free means being able to create my own happiness. To not be afraid to make decisions and changes in order to keep growing.
Sam, cheers to you. It’s been a pleasure!
+Head on over to our Tumblr to see the exclusive collaboration!