Samantha Sherdel’s first venture into photography came at 17 years old. She freelanced on the side while working on her Winter Park High School newspaper and landed her first paid client, Winter Park Magazine. A family friend who had graduated from Daytona State’s School of Photography during the 1980s saw Sherdel’s potential and recommended that she enroll in the program after high school.
That choice has led the now 21-year-old on a career path that is still advancing, sparked by a willingness to seek out new opportunities and ways to experiment.
“I’m considering moving my business to California when the time is right,” she said. “I really love it there, and I believe there will be lots of opportunity for me to grow. But right now, things are going well here, too.”
Sherdel earned her Associate of Science in Photographic Technology in 2011. In addition to being a regular freelance contributor to Orlando Magazine, she also operates Sabelle Creative, a Winter Park firm that specializes in corporate, architectural, commercial and portrait photography. Her mother, Linda, helps her with staging and set design, while Samantha handles the technical and photographic aspects of each project.
“As a photographer, it’s important to be a technician,” she said. “Daytona State’s photography program really stresses the technical in all areas. I, personally, like to work with lighting, and my professors were very supportive. They allowed me to experiment and that helped me develop a personal style and come into my own as a professional photographer.”
Noting that photography is a competitive field, Sherdel encourages anyone aspiring to make a living at it to first go to college and study it. “The knowledge you gain will separate you from the rest,” she said. “Being a professional photographer requires knowledge of more than the technical and aesthetic aspects of the business. Daytona State taught me how to network, get to know people and build relationships that have really helped me get my start.”