Sam Comen was born and raised in Los Angeles where he now shoots commercial and documentary portrait projects.
In his documentary work, Sam shoots environmental portrait essays in geographical locations salient in the American collective consciousness. These essays engage with each site's established historical narrative, creating anthropological documents of place and social phenomenon. Most recently he has brought this approach to California's Central Valley in Lost Hills; and to Central Avenue, the historic core of South-Central Los Angeles in Central Avenue: A Community Album. Sense of place is critical in his work: accordingly, his native Los Angeles has played a major role in his pictures throughout his career. His commercial practice has played a vital role too: he actively transposes the visual motifs in his commissioned photographs to his site-specific documentary work, bringing a consistent quality of light and composition to all his projects, portraying each person he shoots with honor, dignity, and a sympathetic gaze.
His work is included in a 2017-2018 exhibition in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and was recently collected by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA.) Sam has been published in books, magazines, and newspapers internationally, and recognized by Communication Arts, American Photography, Photo District News, The Center for Documentary Studies, and the Santa Fe Center for Photography.
72andSunny, Airbnb, AOL Music, Billboard, Businessweek, Canon, Comcast, COMPLEX, DETAILS, Distro, Dreamworks, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Fast Company, Fortune, Garnier, Glamour, GREY, Hewlett-Packard, Huffington, Inc., K Swiss, Latina Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, MTV, Maxim, Men's Health, Money, Newsweek, Nylon, Oakley, Paramount Pictures, People, Proctor & Gamble, Psychology Today, Publicis North America, Quick + Simple, Rolling Stone, TIME, TV Land, TeamOne, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TruTV, Variety, VICE, WIRED.
EXHIBITIONs & COLLECTIONS:
The Newest Americans; solo exhibition, The California Museum, curator Amanda Meeker, Sacramento, CA (2018)
The Sweat of their Face; group exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, curator Dorothy Moss, Washington, DC (2017)
LACMA; selections from 'Lost Hills' acquired by permanent collection, curator Britt Salvesen (2016)
Portraits of Compassion, three artist show, presented by California Community Foundation, Plaza De Cultura y Artes, Los Angeles, CA (2016)
Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing LA, group exhibition, Kopeikin Galley, Culver City, CA (2015)
Manifest Justice, group show, organized by Yosi Sergant, presented by Amnesty Int'l, Los Angeles, CA (2015)
The Valley/El Valle, group show, San Francisco City Hall, curator Ann Jastrab, presented by the San Francisco Arts Commission (2014)
Kern County at a Distance, three artist show, Bakersfield Museum of Art, curator Vikki Cruz (2014)
Passing Through, L.A. Union Station 75th Anniversary, public lightbox installation, commissioned by L.A. County MTA (2014)
Critical Mass, group show, Corden|Potts Gallery, curator Jessica Johnston of George Eastman House, San Francisco, CA (2013)
Central Avenue: A Community Album, solo show, Central Avenue Jazz Festival, Los Angeles, CA (2012)
28 at 28, solo exhibition, NextSpace LA, Culver City, CA (2011)
A Place in the Sun, group show, Month of Photo LA, curator Audrey Landreth, Los Angeles, CA (2011)
Hayley Fox, "The Newest Americans Highlights Immigrant Stories in the Age of Trump" GoodMagazine.com (2018)
Shana Nys Dambrot, "The Newest Americans" Vice.com (2017)
“Valley Edition,” live radio interview with Joe Moore on KVPR, Central California NPR (2014)
Camille Gavin,”Of Luck and Lost Hills at BMoA,” The Bakersfield Californian (2014)
Miranda Whitworth, “Found in Lost Hills: Struggle, but Also Joy,” The Bakersfield Californian (2013)
Cindy Y. Rodriguez, “Undocumented Youth: A Dream Deferred,” CNN Photos(2013)
Adam McCauley, “Bridging Eras: Photographer Sam Comen’s…Lost Hills” TIME’s LightBox(2013)
Shana Nys Dambrot, “Skid Row and Central Avenue’s Culture-Based Activism,” KCET Artbound (2012)
Jeff Zuschlag, “Photographer of the Week,” Resource Magazine(2012)
Veronica Villafañe, “Photo Retrospective…Central Avenue,” USC Annenberg Intersections South LA(2012)
Caitlin Shamberg, “Photographs: Central Avenue 1940s to Present,” KCRW Which Way LA? (2012)
James Brasuell, “Exploring Central-Adams from 1940s to Today,” Curbed LA(2012)
José Martinez, “Weeklong photo exhibition to shine spotlight on Central Avenue,” KPCC On Central(2012)
Aline Smithson, “Sam Comen,” Lenscratch (2011)
Bryan Formhals, “28 at 28: An Ongoing Annual Portrait Series,” La Pura Vida (2011)