PRESQUE ISLE — Samantha M. White was a student at the University of Maine at Presque Isle studying business and art when another student asked her to photograph some events that were taking place on campus.
The invitation awakened a passion in the Bradford native that has blossomed into a successful, full-time photography business.
White is the force behind Samantha Marie Photography, a Presque Isle-based business that the 23-year-old started in 2008. Since those first days taking photographs of concerts, performances and artistic events at UMPI, White has amassed a significant client list and preserved emotions and memories for people across the state.
“I didn’t really start getting interested in photography until I was a freshman in high school,” White, who attended Central High School in Corinth, said during a recent interview. “But I didn’t think about pursuing it as a career until that first incident at UMPI. I ended up doing a lot more photography while I was in college, and eventually decided that photography was where I was headed with my life.”
White, who left UMPI after two years to pursue her craft, is completely self-taught. She got a job photographing a wedding soon after leaving college, and word of her talent spread.
“My career just sort of blossomed after that,” she said. “I started out with weddings and then branched out to take family and senior portraits, newborn profiles and whatever else people request. I am open to try new things and I enjoy new experiences.”
White doesn’t operate out of a studio, so she spends a lot of time traveling to clients’ homes, wedding locations and natural studios.
“If you are a photographer in Aroostook County, you really don’t need a studio,” said White. “There are just so many locations across the region that are the perfect backdrop for a photograph. I take a lot of pictures at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle and in the parks around Presque Isle.”
Snapshots of White’s work show families posing in lush fields surrounded by resplendent fall foliage and large hands cradling tiny babies. In others, a toddler in a sea of pink-and-purple fabric chews on a string of pearls, and an inquisitive baby reaches a tentative finger toward White’s lens.
White said weddings are her favorite occasion to photograph.
“I love capturing each couple’s love for each other,” she said. “And couples are so willing to do anything to get the perfect picture. It is great.”
White works at least five days a week and does her own marketing and product packaging. She is not limited to The County, and often travels to work in other parts of Maine.
The hardest part of being a photographer, she said, is “distinguishing yourself.”
“Now you see more competition from people who have a digital camera and are trying to make a go of it,” she said. “I also didn’t go to high school in this area, so it is harder to get people to contact me to take senior portraits. But my clients have been very good to me, and they are always mentioning my name to other people. I get a lot of business that way. I really do have a great job.”