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Sam Klegerman: “People who were Divas don’t get hired again!”

This past year I have focused my heart and art toward my mother with early on-set Alzheimer’s. She is my absolute hero and my newest book, Yes No Thank You Goodbye, is an ode to her strength and courage. Growing up, she constantly reminded me that “although those around you are different, everyone is still […]

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This past year I have focused my heart and art toward my mother with early on-set Alzheimer’s. She is my absolute hero and my newest book, Yes No Thank You Goodbye, is an ode to her strength and courage. Growing up, she constantly reminded me that “although those around you are different, everyone is still equal.” That message has stuck with me ever since and I continue to live my life recognizing the lessons I’ve learned from her. I recently just finished my book and am looking forward to sharing it with her when I am able to visit her nursing home again.


As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sam Klegerman.

Sam Klegerman began photographing for global fashion brands at the young age of thirteen while still attending the eighth grade. For the past nine years, Sam has been immersed in the complex world of creating visual narratives for hundreds of clients. With a focus in vibrant pop imagery, he began creating an atmosphere of images to exist as a visual facade. While reflecting on his commercial awareness, he has applied these skills to his personal narrative and has begun crafting fine art imagery through a queer lens. “By diving into my deepest feelings and placing myself in charge of the visual atmosphere, Yes No Thank You Goodbye exists as a level of separation between me and my commercial identity.”


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

Thank YOU so much for having me! Since seventh grade I’ve always had love for creating visuals and styling people in all different types of environments. So photography came easy to me and once I was hooked, I was HOOKED. It became my outlet of expressing myself visually to those around me. From there I started posting online and companies began contacting me to create content and shoot campaigns for them. This was still the beginning of high school so juggling both full time homework and crafting vibrant campaigns, I started to feel like I was Hannah Montana in a weird way.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me during my photography career was on this one shoot a few years back on this boat. I was working with a small team that in the morning was all stressed about making sure everything we did that day came together perfectly and swiftly. We were so anxious about making it all come to life that while we were on the boat we got sprayed from these giant waves to the point we were all soaking wet. In the moment we were furious but soon after we were able to laugh about it and have a great day going forward. I constantly think of that story in stressful situations so I can reassure myself that everything will be ok in the long run. It’s just about your lens on the world around you.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Listen to your gut and trust your artistic judgment. Also as time has gone on I have found more and more comfort knowing that nobody thinks about you as much as you do. So with that said don’t take the world so harshly and learn to forgive yourself.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

This past year I have focused my heart and art toward my mother with early on-set Alzheimer’s. She is my absolute hero and my newest book, Yes No Thank You Goodbye, is an ode to her strength and courage. Growing up, she constantly reminded me that “although those around you are different, everyone is still equal.” That message has stuck with me ever since and I continue to live my life recognizing the lessons I’ve learned from her. I recently just finished my book and am looking forward to sharing it with her when I am able to visit her nursing home again.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

After working on such a meaningful project with my mother, I’ve allowed myself to reflect on the privilege and access that went into crafting my narrative. I was so lucky to have the access to medical needs, doctors, and the insurance to cover her Alzheimer’s. This put my project into perspective and I am going to donate 100% of the profit made from the book to UsAgainstAlzheiemer’s.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

UsAgainstAlzheiemer’s is an organization that helps communities of color receive the proper care and access they need when diagnosed with either Alzheimer’s or Dementia. I was privileged to have such access to all medical needs regarding my mother’s Alzheimer’s so all I want to do is give back to those who don’t have the same.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

Being Diagnosed at such a young age with Alzheimer’s, My mom continues to be my idol. She constantly inspired me to create, perform, and give it my all in every artistic outlet. She always encouraged my narrative and always helped me see things in different lights. Her confidence and value for art will continue to inspire the ways I give my art to the world.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Educate, Donate, and Respect. Alzheimer’s is different with each individual so seeking the proper tools and allowing yourself to understand the condition will only allow you a closer look into the world around it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

Say Thank you and introduce yourself to everyone you work with on set. Make sure you know the team. Being a diva won’t give you want you want at the end of the day. People who were Divas don’t get hired again!

I wish someone told me how fragile you should be with yourself when giving personal work to the world. I feel at times the creative world can be so glamorized that we forget that people are PEOPLE. I recall working on my book, Yes No Thank You Goodbye, and being so tired after working with such difficult concepts for days at a time.

I wish someone told me to put yourself first when you are giving yourself at an artistic level. It’s not arrogant if done the right way. If you are the star of the show, it’s ok to recognize the galaxy around you.

Everyone’s a winner and to not scale others’ success to your own. Obviously with Instagram and all social media we constantly compare each other but to always find a way to remind yourself of your worth and how others don’t compare is key.

Your time will come. I used to get so jealous when certain photographers would shoot with models that I wanted to shoot and as time evolved I learned that your moment will always come if it’s right. If it’s not meant to be then be ok with moving forward with things that are.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Being a non-binary individual, I would just like to bring more validation and acceptance to the LGBTQ+ community through art. I personally believe I feel the most connected with myself when I am creating so to give that to others would be my life goal.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“It only works if you do.” Some things will fly by in the wind and you’ll accept them from there but most things you have to create on your own.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

100% Jen Atkin. Besides photography I also love the world of hair and I think how Jen has built her platform and her brand is truly inspiring. We have met before in the past but I would love to have a full conversation with her and share my admiration for her work.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

Thank you guys so so much as well!

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