Kula Adventure Series: Meet Sam Starns, Adventure Elopement Photographer
These posts are meant to inspire you to pursue the adventurous dreams and desires that are in your own heart. The word 'Kula' means community, and it is only through supporting each other that we can truly cultivate a community of outdoor women who lead by example and pave the way for others.
Leave No Trace is important to me because I'm not the only one living in this world. That goes for people and animals. It's as simple as that. I've been conscious about leaving no trace even when I was little, but I've been able to incorporate more LNT practices into my daily life (my husband and I even have a competition when cleaning up our campsite). I love coming up to a location and seeing a pristine landscape, not something that's been littered with trash (even biodegradable items like flowers) or pockmarked with bare spots where other visitors have clearly worn down the plant life by going off trail. I don't want to be the one to subject even one future visitor to that. I could also go on and on about the impact humans have on wildlife and the environment in general. Animals are affected by our mere scent, so it's crucial to erase as much of our presence as possible.
3. As a photographer in the outdoor space, what drives you? What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
As a photographer, I absolutely love capturing the beauty, majesty, and fierceness of the outdoors. I'm so incredibly lucky to have witnessed crashing waves, towering mountain peaks formed by glaciers, and granite boulders exposed by erosion. I've never been a person who could choose favorites (colors, music, whatever it may be), because each place is unique. And I want to see it all. The most rewarding thing about my job is exploring new places with new friends, and capturing the first day of the rest of their lives. Every time a client says, "Let's do this thing!", I thank my stars that I get to capture their elopement day and their love for the outdoors all at once. That doesn't come without its responsibility, though. On top of the pressure of capturing a day you can't replicate, I also feel a duty to educate any followers of my work about LNT and how to incorporate the outdoors into your elopement without negatively impacting the environment. Photos often times lack a lot of context - so when couples ask about an image, I try to educate them that while it may look fun and adventurous, there are also LNT policies in place behind the scenes. It makes me so happy when a couple says, "Whoa! I didn't know that would affect the environment so much! I need to remember that for the future."
4. If you could snap your fingers and live your perfect day, what would it look like?
5. 'Kula' means community. What does community look like and mean to you?
Community to me means not only professional feedback and support, but friendship. And if you're lucky, that community and friendship becomes family after a while. And realizing that family is family you've gotten to choose is the best feeling in the world.