The Style Spotlight: Sam Horine

by Lex van den Berghe

We pulled up a seat next to photographer Sam Horine to get a closer look at the unique style and process behind his urban photography. Sit back as we explore his methods, and then get hands-on in Lightroom CC_ with his six FREE Lightroom presets _here.

How many ways are there to look at a place like New York City? It’s been in the lens of so many talented artists that it can feel explored in its entirety—at least until someone shows it to you as a local might. In this edition of Style Spotlight, we’re taking a look at cities around the world, from NYC to Stockholm, through the eyes and breathtaking photography of Sam Horine.

Image from Bergen, Norway, edited with Sam’s “Bergen” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

Like many photographers, Sam’s interest in the craft started at a young age. “I’ve always had a bit of an interest in photography. My grandfather was usually seen with a camera in hand, and I dabbled with some black and white film classes when I was in high school,” he said. However, it was moving to New York City and getting his hands on his first digital camera that kindled his hobby and turned it into a passion.

Sam became enamoured with his new home and took to exploring it with a camera in-hand. Walking down every alley and learning every route, Sam found his unique way of seeing New York and cities in general. There was a pace, a rhythm, that he began trying to capture.

Over the next decade, Sam found good work as a journalist, but it was with Instagram that he found his audience. Using his impromptu style and intimate knowledge of New York City, he filled the feeds of his fellow New Yorkers with pictures of their city like they hadn’t seen before. His photos captured an authenticity that his contemporaries missed, which earned his Instagram channel the title of “Best in NYC” by the Village Voice.

Image from New York City, edited with Sam’s “6thAvenue” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

Finding your Style

When we asked Sam to give us a peek into the inspiration stage of his process, he surprised us by explaining his desire to break away from his most frequented channels, stating, “While I’m a huge consumer of the internet and Instagram for inspiration, I think one of the most difficult things these days is to get out of the echo chamber.”

Instead, Sam focuses on cinema. So much of a film’s tone and story are communicated through its cinematography, which Sam takes in frame by frame. Whether by dissecting the cinematographer’s thought-process behind positioning a shot, or deconstructing the colour palette, once Sam has found what he’s looking for, he grabs his things and heads out into the streets.

Image from Istanbul, Turkey, edited with Sam’s “Centraln” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

Style in Focus

The energy captured in Sam’s photography is in the streets themselves. There was once a time when Sam could use his intimate knowledge of New York City to line up the perfect shot, but now that he travels from one city to another on a semi-regular basis, he’s had to learn how to explore a city rather quickly.

Image from New York City, edited with Sam’s “Pioneer” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

In order to sink his teeth in, Sam says he starts the same way he always has—putting his shoes on and experiencing it all first-hand. “One of my favourite times to shoot is the early morning, especially when I find myself in a totally unfamiliar place, there’s something about watching the city wake up and come to life.”

Though a shot can sometimes come together through chance events, the equipment Sam carries is always meticulously planned. “Working a lot in the travel space and coming from an editorial background, I’m often trying to minimize gear as well as do as much in-camera as possible,” he said.

Lightroom in Style

After all the exploring, planning, and flick of the shutter, Sam is finally ready to open his laptop to touch-up his work in Lightroom CC—a process that he was more than willing to let us observe.

“I typically start working on one key image and from there I can either create a new preset for the whole set or else work on a specific edit that will then carry across the entire set,” he explained.

Having trouble getting presets into Lightroom? Follow these instructions:

For Lightroom CC (must have version 1.3 or later):

  1. Download the presets here
  2. Open Adobe Lightroom CC on your computer
  3. Select File > Import Profiles and Presets
  4. Select the downloaded preset file and click ‘Import’
  5. Open the photo you would like to edit, click the edit toolbar on the right-hand side of Lightroom and then you’ll find the imported preset when you select the ‘Presets’ button

For Lightroom Classic CC (must have version 7.3 or later):

  1. Download the presets here
  2. Unzip the zip file on your computer
  3. Go to the Develop Module with an image
  4. Click on the + icon in the Preset Panel. Select “Import Presets”
  5. Navigate to the downloaded presets from step 1
  6. Click “Import”

After using his preset to apply edits across all his selections quickly, Sam then chooses which photos are the exemplary few that genuinely capture the mood of the city he was exploring. From there, he takes the final step of Airdropping it to his phone where he checks to ensure his edits translate well to mobile.

And just like that, Sam shares his perspective with the world through an eye-catching post.

Image from Stockholm, Sweden, edited with Sam’s “Old Town” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

For the Love of Photography

Before parting ways, we asked Sam what has kept him loving photography for the last 20 years. From his phone to his drone, the wonders of technology have shaped, and continue to shape, what he’s capable of making. “If you take a second to really let that sink in, it’s insane.”

Image from New York City, edited with Sam’s “Ace” Lightroom preset. Get his six free presets here.

Start exploring your own photography style with Lightroom_ today._