Sam Comen was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he now shoots commercial and documentary projects. His work has been recognized by Communication Arts, American Photography, Photo District News, The Center for Documentary Studies, and the Santa Fe Center for Photography.
In his documentary work Comen shoots environmental portraits in locales salient in the American collective consciousness. His essays engage with each site’s established historical narrative, creating anthropological palimpsests that document place or social phenomenon. He has brought this approach to California’s Central Valley in his project Lost Hills; to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, flashpoint of the 1965 Watts Riots in Watts Votes Obama; and to Central Avenue, the historic core of South-Central Los Angeles in Central Avenue: A Community Album. Sense of place is critical in his work: accordingly, his native Los Angeles has played a major role in his pictures throughout his career. Comen’s commercial practice has played a vital role too: he’s actively transposed the visual motifs in his commissioned photographs to his site-specific documentary work, bringing a consistent quality of light and composition to all his projects, portraying each subject he shoots with honor, dignity, and a sympathetic gaze.