Kula Adventure Series: Meet Sam Starns, Adventure Elopement Photographer

Hi Kula fans! I am so incredibly excited to start this blog series featuring incredible, adventurous women and girls. For the first post, I am absolutely ecstatic to feature Sam Starns. Sam is an adventure elopement photographer who has been a fan and friend of Kula since the very beginning. If you've received a Kula in the mail, it is Sam's photograph of her prototype Galaxy Kula in Maui that is featured on the front of the postcard that is included with your order.

 

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.

 

1. Tell us who you are and what excites you the most in life!

 

I'm Sam, an adventure elopement photographer based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and so many things excite me about life. I love trying and experiencing new things; that's how I learned how to ride motorcycles, live abroad, snowboard and travel alone all over Europe. I've failed at plenty of things, but I've had fun along the way, and they've all been experiences I can look back on and remember as part of an exciting life. I've always been an outdoorsy gal and passionate about the world around me, so one of my passions is hiking and just generally exploring new parks, forests and beaches.

 

2. What does Leave No Trace mean to you? Why is it so important?

 

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?

I'd be photographing clients who've become friends in some place like Scotland or Ireland, with my husband in tow. Afterward we'd all -celebrate at a pub together, singing along with local artists (drinks on me!). Luckily I've already lived a day similar to that - how cool is it that couples who have just eloped want to continue hanging out and have dinner together? To me, that's pretty damn cool, and I'm honored.

 

 

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.

 

 

6. Free space - this is where you get to write anything else that you are passionate about and want to share!

 

I believe people have so many facets and lots are multi-passionate - you aren't just a math whiz, a jock, an outdoorsy person, a conservative, a liberal, etc., and I want my couples to live their uniqueness and do their own thing on their wedding day. If you love the idea of a huge wedding and love sci-fi, work in some fun sci-fi references into your ceremony. If you're an outdoor-loving artist, incorporate that artistry into an elopement in your favorite national park.  I want every couple to have the best, most "them" wedding day ever and if the latter example sounds like you, I'm one of the best people to bring that dream to life.

 

Connect with Sam through her website: S Photography
Follow Sam's adventures on Instagram (and oogle at her photography): www.instagram.com/sphotographyco
All photos provided by and used with permission from Sam Starns, S Photography.