"I get inspired when people are actually doing what they love.”


Samuel McGuire is a bona fide hustler.

Written by: Susannah Tantemsapya

Six years ago he moved to Los Angeles from Iowa on the promise of a staff photographer gig. On the day he arrived, they gave the job to someone else. Out of pride and determination, Sam stayed in Los Angeles, couch surfing and living out of his car for close to a year. Almost giving up, he moved to Minneapolis, then Chicago, then that same company called him up to offer him a job again, a year later. So, he decided to just go for it.

Looking back it was perfect: a humbling experience that shaped his approach to work and life. He had stressed so much about getting a job. After everything fell through, he accepted how little control he had over anything. He also made one project that he always wanted to do: shoot a photo in every Midwest state. That ended up being a 12-page feature in The Skateboard Mag and a bad case of strep throat. Recently, Sam started shooting surfing, which pushes him even harder in new directions.

3.5 Questions with Samuel

What is your secret talent?
I’m really good with potatoes: hash browns, mashed potatoes, any sort of potato making, I can crush it.

Where do you find inspiration?
Maybe since I was struggling for so long, I get inspired when people are actually doing what they love. Aside from that, I really enjoy observing normal, everyday life.

Tell us about the picture or job where you realized “Damn, I might actually make this happen”:  
There’s been many of those moments, it’s really anytime I’m getting paid to shoot. In 2010, I was in Mazatlan, Mexico on a shoot, which coincidentally is where the waterslide photo (on this site) was taken. I actually remember laughing. It felt cool that I had to leave this shoot to fly to another shoot. And, I wasn’t living in my car anymore

I ENJOY cold beer after a long day, sunsets, a nice porch, a cool breeze, a thunderstorm rolling in, surfing, checking into a hotel is always exciting, Xanax before a 12 hour flight, classic American breakfast (hash browns, eggs, bacon, coffee). Maybe I enjoy really, boring stuff?

View all of Samuel's Prints