Mazda CX-9 adventures with photographer Sam Tippetts


Mazda CX-9: Adventures with photographer Sam Tippetts

Sam Tippetts is the winner of the ultimate photography competition, Assignment: Inspiration, run by National Geographic and Mazda. We follow Sam as he explores the badlands of West Texas in search of the perfect shot.

When Sam Tippetts was 10 years old, his parents bought him a point-and-shoot camera. Ever since that day, Sam has had a camera with him everywhere he goes. He’s travelled all over the world and found that taking pictures has enabled him to connect with people or things he might never have encountered before. “When I’m taking photos, I’m always looking to establish a relationship with my subject, regardless of whether it’s wildlife, landscape or humanity,” he says. We asked him to do a shoot for Mazda Stories and our brief was simple: go somewhere you love and show us what you can do. He chose West Texas, his home. Here’s Sam’s story.

“My images revolve around the single idea: connection.”

“I was pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. Everything’s so spread out you could spend weeks, months, years and still find new roads.

“My name is Sam Tippetts. I was born and raised in Texas. And I take pictures.

“I’m drawn to West Texas by the landscape. There really are dramatic changes from flat to mini mountains and hills that captivate me as a photographer.

“Art in general and expressing yourself through something like photography are very personal. You put a lot out there when you show people your work or when you are creating your work. It’s about the relationship between the subject and the viewer.

“My camera has given me an excuse to interact with people who I otherwise wouldn’t meet and that’s something I’m super-thankful for. My images revolve around the single idea: connection.

“When you’re shooting outdoors you always have to be pretty aware of your surroundings, so that’s definitely something I try to focus on. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road. I’ve walked, hitchhiked and also sailed. For a lot of time I’ve lived out of a backpack.

“I was all over West Texas. I spent a lot of time out there exploring and driving.

“My camera has taken me all over the world, but I’ve always made my way back home to Texas. There’s just something special about home.”

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Assignment: Inspiration was a photography competition run by National Geographic and Mazda. Photographers were asked to share three to five images that inspire, engage, and reveal a passion for storytelling. Sam was shortlisted and, along with two other finalists, he was flown to Los Angeles to compete in a series of storytelling quests under the mentorship of experts from National Geographic and Mazda. Sam’s prize is every photographer’s dream: an official assignment for National Geographic Travel. To find out more about Sam and the National Geographic competition he won, click here.

Images Sam Tippetts / Videographer Michael Kincaid

Downloadable images are freely available for individual use and distribution without charge. However, it is PROHIBITED either to distribute by sale or to modify the images.

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